The past two months were a blur to Jove. His parents had decided that the Summer classes made sense, and learned about how to send packages. Magus Azarias made the arrangements, and neglected to mention the large bounty that Jove might be due. Jove just nodded, but he noticed the interest his father showed in what was happening. More interest than Jove remembered his father showing in anything.
The last weeks of high school barely registered to Joveâ€™s memories. He knew he got As on his finals, but he didnâ€™t really remember the exams. He remembered his friends all made plans, and he remembered how distant they all seemed. None of them knew the real Jove anyway. The Jove who dreamed of magic every day and experimented with his grimoire; not the Jove who sat in the back of the classroom, did his homework, and barely spoke.
The first Thursday in June arrived just a blink after Joveâ€™s first visit to the University of Atlantean Thaumaturgy. Joveâ€™s parents reluctantly agreed to let him go by himself, but only on the condition they would visit over the weekend. Which would also give them the chance to bring anything he forgot.
Crossing between worlds and a ride from a different dragon brought Jove to where he was now. In a stone corridor, lit by what appeared to be gas lamps, with rows and rows of wooden doors, all with numbers. Jove pulled a large suitcase on wheels and carried a backpack and a duffel bag as he walked down the corridor, checking his registration packet. â€œFreshman Dorm, Seventh floor, suite 754.â€
With that, a set of numbers glowed slightly a few doors further. Jove paused. He repeated, â€œSuite 754.â€ The numbers glowed again. Jove blinked, and walked to the wooden sign which had glowed. 754 was written on it. â€œThat shouldnâ€™t make sense, but it does.â€ He knocked on the nearby door.
The door opened, South greeted him. â€œJove, good to see you. I set a ward to alert me when you arrived. You really need to stop bypassing them.â€
Jove let the bear take his bags. â€œSouth? Why are you here?â€
South moved out of the way to let Jove enter. The central room also had stone walls and was huge, about twenty by twenty feet. In the corner of the room was a small sitting area, two couches and two chairs and a small table, with three open windows streaming the afternoon sun into the room. The center of the room was open, a basic circle drawn onto the floor. Four doors lined the right side of the room, the one closest to the windows was open, showing the bathroom beyond.
South said, â€œOne of your roommates… There was concern he might try to hurt you.â€
Jove looked at South, â€œWhy would he do that?â€
â€œHeâ€™s Dion Dimitriâ€™s son.â€ South looked towards one of the closed doors. â€œHe was being raised as a sacrifice, and they had put a number of taboo restrictions on him growing up. Having that kind of magic on you when youâ€™re developing causes problems. Somehow, he managed to shrug off the effects long enough to call the authorities. That was in April, the same day you sealed Dionâ€™s magic.â€
Jove nodded. â€œBut, how did he end up here?â€
South opened the door farthest from the windows. The room beyond was small and sparse, with a single piece of multi-purpose furniture: a bed over a desk with drawers on one end. South put Joveâ€™s bags down just inside. â€œYouâ€™re the last to arrive, I hope you donâ€™t mind this room,â€ South said. â€œAs for Christian, heâ€™s been almost catatonic since he was rescued. Heâ€™s only spoken once since he was taken from his parents. He asked to come here and see you. Weâ€™re still not sure how he knew you were going to attend, or if he realizes what you did.â€ He led Jove back to the common room, and took a seat.
South continued, â€œI mentioned the damage caused by having those spells effect you when you grow up. You can think of it as a binding for the mind, the spells are kind of like a net over his thoughts. Cast it on an adult, and itâ€™ll cause issues, but itâ€™s purely on the outside. Cast it on a child, and the personality grows around the strands becoming tangled. Heâ€™s spent two months having enchantments removed, and he hasnâ€™t gotten any better. The magus working on him is afraid if he tries anything more aggressive, itâ€™ll start pulling his brain apart. Still, heâ€™s gotten all the compulsions removed, so theyâ€™re letting him recover before trying anything more.â€
Jove sat there, stunned at the news. He was not an idealist. He knew magic could be used for harm. Yet, he didnâ€™t expect to have to face it so soon. He nodded, but remained silent.
â€œThereâ€™s another theory. Your ability to stop magic. It canâ€™t be a coincidence that he managed to call the authorities the same time you sealed his fatherâ€™s magic. It might be able to simply make the spells woven into him disappear. That would let his mind recover easily, without danger of further damage. It might happen just from being near you.â€ South shrugged, â€œPlus, youâ€™re the only thing heâ€™s shown any interest in. So, I took responsibility for him. Heâ€™s now my ward, and I took a break from my guard duties to teach here for a year so I could let him attend school. The problem is, as I mentioned, he could just be here to try to kill you.â€
Jove asked, â€œDid you ask Azarias about him?â€
South nodded, â€œDivination is not an exact science. The answers you get depend on the complexity of the situation and the skill of the seer. All he was able to find out is that your destinies are intertwined. That implies that it will be much more than a single meeting. Deep down, my gut says to trust this.â€
Joveâ€™s gut told him to ask, â€œChanging jobs and staying here for a year seems like a lot of trouble to go through for someone you just met. Him or me.â€
â€œWe all have pasts.â€ South shrugged, an said, â€œHe reminds me of someone, and thatâ€™s all Iâ€™m going to explain today.â€
â€œIf he tries to kill me,â€ Jove said, â€œIâ€™m going to hear the rest of that.â€
South nodded. â€œFair enough.â€
There was another detail Jove wasnâ€™t sure about. He asked, â€œIf Christian is unresponsive, will I need to take care of him?â€
â€œHe knows how to care for himself. Groom, eat, bathe. Heâ€™ll attend class without any prodding, but other than asking to come here, he doesnâ€™t speak.â€ South sighed, then continued. â€œHeâ€™s in there. He listens and sees. Itâ€™s just that he canâ€™t bring himself to interact very often. Most of it is magical, but thereâ€™s a bit of psychological trauma also. The hope is that with some normal interaction, he will recover. Plus, Iâ€™ll be checking in on him regularly.â€
Jove sighed. He had a lot of questions, but he needed time to think before he could put them into words. â€œWill Mr. Azarious be around later?â€
â€œHe had a meeting he needed to attend, but heâ€™ll be back on campus after dinner.â€ The bear smiled, â€œHe wanted to talk to you about your parentsâ€™ visit.â€
They sat in silence for a while at that. Jove wondered if other students had to worry about their roommates killing them in their sleep because they were vorax mages. Jove smiled, probably. Finally, he said, â€œI suppose we should get this over with. No use being paranoid about it.â€
They got up, and South walked over to the door next to Joveâ€™s room. He opened the door, and said, â€œChristian, Jove is here.â€
In the room was a wolf, with gray fur and dressed in basic pants and a simple short sleeved pullover. He sat on the bed, looking at the wall. Slowly, he turned his head to the entrance, and stood up. Silently, he walked past South, and his yellow eyes finally focussed on Jove.
Jove offered his hand in greeting. â€œNice to meet you Christian…â€
The wolf didnâ€™t take Joveâ€™s offer. Instead he dropped to his right knee, left fist on the floor, head bowed. Three syllables, the first sounds Jove heard him make, "Tuebor.â€
Jove looked at the wolf, then at South. He stammered, â€œWho, what is a â€˜too-ey-borâ€™?â€
â€œIt means â€˜I will protect.â€™â€ South visibly relaxed. â€œThat was a pledge of loyalty. I think he knows what you did, and understands the hope you offer him. Youâ€™re definitely safe.â€<< TS07: Null Legends || TS09: Three Roommates >>