Captive (Tainted Elements, #4) by Alycia Linwood - Read Online
Captive (Tainted Elements, #4)
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Summary

A world-changing prophecy. A group of rogue elementals who are ready to do whatever it takes to fulfill it and steal all the elemental magic for themselves.

Unaware that her mind is being controlled by a powerful elemental, will Moira help them or stop them?

Published: Alycia Linwood on
ISBN: 9781507030448
List price: $3.99
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Captive (Tainted Elements, #4) - Alycia Linwood

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26

Chapter 1

I called to my air and let it surge out of me in a blast. The dark-eyed woman in front of me raised her shield of fire, and my air hit it right in the middle. The woman bared her teeth at me, pushing at my air with her fire until my air parted around her shield.

A slow smile spread across my lips. That’s nice, but I’m not even trying.

Who are you? What do you want? she asked as I ceased my attack to let her take a breath. Her body was shaking, the strands of her sweaty black hair sticking to her forehead.

I didn’t answer, just watched her carefully. We were alone in the alley behind an old school and there was nowhere for her to run.

Who the hell are you? I swear I’m going to call the cops! she yelled, her hand going for her purse. As she kept rummaging around in her purse, she didn’t take her eyes off me, probably afraid of what I’d do.

I cocked my head. What’s your name?

What? Are you insane? You attack me out of nowhere and just...

Her babbling was giving me a headache, so I sent my element at her head, slipping inside her mind with ease. She kept on saying something, but I didn’t bother to listen. What’s your name? I grasped her mind, and she went perfectly still.

Maya, she said, her eyes no longer seeing me.

I want you to do something for me, Maya, I said, getting closer to her. I want you to tell everyone you know what you’re about to see. Forget that I attacked you. Understood?

She bobbed her head, and I let my element slip out. Her eyes went wide when she saw me standing a couple of inches away from her.

Boo! I said, and turned invisible in front of her. As I rose into the air, she gasped and turned around, scanning her surroundings. Trying to contain the laughter that was threatening to bubble up from my throat, I flew to the roof of a nearby building. As I turned visible again, I flashed a smile to my boyfriend and Raven, who must have been waiting for me for a while.

How did it go, baby? Blake asked, pulling me into his arms.

What do you think? I laughed. You should have seen the poor woman’s face. She was terrified.

Well, that’s one more person who’ll spread a story about us. Good job, Blake said, his light blue eyes glistening.

Raven pressed her lips together, her arms crossed, her black hair flying around her shoulders. They’ll try to cover up the story, as usual. I don’t see how this will help our cause.

Oh, it will, Blake said. The more rumors about our existence we spread, the better. The government will do their best to contain or cover it all up, which means they won’t have time to look for us. But soon the whole world will know about us and what we can do.

I pulled him in for a kiss, running my fingers through his soft and short spiky black hair.

And what if they get lucky and capture us? We should have waited with our plan until after the prophecy is fulfilled, Raven said.

No, Blake said. We’re powerful enough to take them all down, and anyone else who dares to come against us. But don’t worry, we’re almost ready to complete the ritual and find the place of greatest magic ever known. And it’ll all be ours.

He’s right. I pulled away from Blake and looked at Raven, who was chewing on her lip and smearing her red lipstick. We need the distraction. While they’re trying to keep their secrets and are busy figuring out the wrong prophecies, we’ll be doing what we have to without any problems.

I hope you’re right. She turned into a shimmering cloud and flew away.

Why is she still with us? I asked when I was sure Raven was out of earshot. If she doesn’t believe in our cause, then she should leave.

Blake’s eyes narrowed. No. We need her. None of the others can use mind control and they’re not that loyal to us. We can’t do everything on our own.

Right. I prowled toward the edge of the roof and looked down at the city. People milled around without realizing that soon their world would be drastically changed, and there was nothing they could do about it.

What’s on your mind? Blake put his arms around me from behind, his lips brushing my ear. Did you have another one of your headaches?

I shook my head. I think my headaches are getting better. I don’t know why I’m still getting them. It’s been four months since the accident. The accident I couldn’t even recall. Blake had told me my car had steered off the road and hit a tree, and that I’d hit my head and lost consciousness, but that I hadn’t been seriously injured. I just wished I could remember at least a little bit about it, but there was no time to think about that when we had better things to do.

See? I told you it would get better. Blake let go of me and came to stand next to me, his eyes growing distant as he gazed at the city. The sun was about to set and the lights were starting to turn on, giving the city a new, vibrant look. Do you remember when I showed you the Sacred Book for the first time? he asked.

Yeah. How could I not remember that? We’d spent months reading various books about prophecies and ancient elemental magic, but most of them were full of bullshit. One of those silly little books had led us to the Sacred Book, which had been kept at our National Museum in the capital. We’d immediately gone there and stolen the book, and Blake had been the first one to take it into his hands. When he showed it to me and let me touch it, I’d been speechless.

Reaching into the inner pocket of his black leather jacket, Blake pulled out a small book bound in red leather. I could feel the power humming from it as soon as he extended his hand toward me. I gently took the book into my hands, caressing the soft cover. Both my fire and air woke inside of me, and it was as if they were pulsing in the rhythm of the magic coming from the book. Just like my heart.

Blake’s hand covered mine, and I closed my eyes, feeling the soft humming of the connection between the two of us. As soon as Blake let go of me, the magic connection pulled back, so I opened my eyes and handed him back the book. There was absolutely no doubt that the prophecy in this book was the real one, and all the other books were just a sham that was supposed to sway us from the right path.

The book only pulsed like that for Blake and me, and we knew what that meant. To complete the ritual, we needed the Murderer, the Hero, and the Strong. One part was missing, though. We need to find the Strong. I bit down on my lip, drawing blood. We were so close, and yet I was afraid that we’d never find our third part.

We’ll find him or her. Don’t worry. It’s our destiny. Blake’s head was tilted back, his eyes sparkling with determination. It’s not a coincidence that you and I met here. And if the Murderer and the Hero are here, that means the third member of our group should be somewhere here, too.

I know. I shifted from foot to foot, curling a strand of my hair around my finger. But we both had to do things to grow into our roles. I found my ability to kill and I ended a life, and you saved many elementals from being captured or taken by the government’s secret organizations. What if this person still hasn’t done what needs to be done to become the Strong? And how does one even become the Strong? I know what the Hero and the Murderer need to do, but what about the Strong? Why doesn’t it say anywhere what that actually means?

We’ll figure it out. All we have to do is find more tainted elementals and see how they react to the Sacred Book. Blake’s nonchalance almost made me jump at him and shake him.

Yeah, if we’re lucky. If not, someone might have already killed the Strong.

Blake returned the book to his pocket and shot me a glare. Don’t think like that. There’s a reason why that person is called the Strong. They’re not dead. I’m sure of it.

So what do we do? We’d send the rest of our small group to look for tainted elementals, but it was hard to catch people using their elements in public. It wasn’t as if people needed their elements and used them constantly in everyday lives, and we couldn’t exactly patrol the whole city. The elemental we needed could be right in front of our noses and we wouldn’t be able to tell. The city was just too damn big.

I have a plan, Blake said, and I raised my eyebrows at him.

You do?

Yeah. He eyed me carefully. Do you remember Lily?

I frowned. The name sounded familiar, but I just couldn’t recall who that was.

She’s the leader of that organization that hunts tainted elementals so she can keep track of them.

Oh, right. A couple of weeks ago, one tainted elemental who we’d run into while searching for the Strong told us that there was an organization that claimed they’d protect elementals like us. They wanted either to recruit us so we’d search for those of us who were considered dangerous or put our names on their list so they could keep track of us. That was a nice idea, except I didn’t believe for one second that magic disease carriers and regular elementals gave a damn about us. If they did, they would have told everyone about us, not looked for a way to gun us down. Seriously, of what use would the list be to them if not for something nefarious?

I doubt our Strong would be stupid enough to hand himself over to Lily, but what if she or someone else stumbled upon him and put him on that list? Blake’s face was serious, his shoulders stiff. We should get that list for ourselves or at least take a peek at it.

I clapped my hands together. Oh my God, that’s a brilliant idea! We could even visit some of those tainted elementals and find out if they know of more of those like us. The tainted elementals on Lily’s list might have been forced to give her their personal information for various reasons, but that didn’t mean they’d betrayed their friends’ secrets or revealed anything about others like them. And while tainted elementals could lie to Lily all they wanted, they couldn’t lie to Blake and me if we used our mind control on them.

I knew you’d like my idea, but there’s one small problem.

What problem? I didn’t really see any problems. We’d gone to numerous places and always gotten what we wanted, so it was surprising that we could have a problem. Some of Lily’s agents and guards were tainted elementals, but I doubted they were very powerful.

Lily’s techs upgraded the building’s security, and from what I heard, it can’t be breached so easily. There are devices that can block the elements, too, and if we go inside, we’ll have to do it without our elements. His lowered his head, a pinched expression on his face. I tried to mind control Lily and some of her men, but I was unsuccessful. He bared his teeth. Something was protecting her. Maybe some kind of a device.

I pressed my lips into an angry line. You went there without me. Why?

I thought it would be easy, and I wanted to surprise you with something nice, he said sheepishly. I love to make you happy.

I let out a loud sigh. Blake loved me. How could I ever blame him for that? Okay, I forgive you. But how on earth did they develop blocking devices against you so fast? Are you sure there wasn’t someone guarding her? Blake was really good at mind control, and it was one of his strongest abilities. I doubted there was another person, aside from me, who could resist him.

I don’t know. I didn’t see anyone around her, but they probably assumed she’d be a target for those of us who were smart enough to see through their lies, Blake said. This is exactly why we have to complete the ritual. Once we have the power of all elements that exist on this planet and we drain the world of theirs, there won’t be anything they can do to stop us. Not even their stupid technology will be of any use.

You’re right. We need to hurry. I worried my lip. So how do we get the list? Do we mind control a hacker or what?

They have a good tech team. I doubt just any hacker can break through their security, and I don’t think they connected the computer to any networks.

I thought you said you had a plan. I tilted my head at him. So why don’t you tell me what we can do instead of what we can’t?

I was strong enough to break through Lily’s protection for a couple of moments before she kicked me out. He raised his finger to shush me as soon as I opened my mouth. And no, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to do it again, because I tried and it didn’t work. I think that whatever technology she’s using can recognize our elements and block them better once it becomes familiar with them. I could get inside her mind for a while only because I’m powerful enough.

Did you manage to tell her to do something for us or to take the list and leave it somewhere we can find it? I leaned in, holding my breath.

Nothing like that. I managed to get an image of you into her mind. Make her think she knows you.

What? I gaped at him. How is that going to help us? She’s going to send someone after me! We’re already in trouble because we’re drawing so much attention to ourselves, and you fucking go there and slip an image of me into her mind! Are you kidding me? She’s going to figure out who I am and tell everyone to look for me!

No, listen, Blake said calmly. She thinks you’re one of her agents who got mind-controlled by another tainted elemental, and she wants you back. And I’m pretty sure her team has all of our photos by now, including mine. They have satellites and every possible technology at their disposal, but they still can’t catch us. We’re just that good.

Okay. I took a deep breath. What he was saying made sense. Lily and her stupid organization probably knew some things about us, but that wasn’t really helping them to find us or catch us. We’d made sure to change locations frequently and cover our tracks well. So she thinks I’m her agent. Do you think she’ll let me into the building?

Blake grinned. That’s exactly what I’m thinking.

I snorted. You’re crazy. If I go in there, they’ll capture me or kill me.

No, they won’t. I convinced her that she really, really cares about you.

I ran my hand over my face. "Let’s suppose that works and that no