â€œJove!â€ The voice was unfamiliar. The yell was more of a roar, but not exactly feline. Closer to ursine, the shouting snarl of a bear. â€œOtherworlder!â€
Jove, Tan and Chris were heading back to their room, taking a shortcut outside, through one of the large courtyards. It was well-lit by a system of floating lanterns that hovered above the walkways. Jove turned to see a lean bear in a green tunic running towards him.
About ten feet away, the bear stopped and dropped into a grounded fighting stance. â€œHow could you beat him?â€
Joveâ€™s response was cut off by the bear shouting, â€œLava Channel!â€ For a moment, Jove could see the magic at work, the earth gave strength and a solid foundation which flowed up the bearâ€™s body, through whatever rage he felt, and flowed down his arm as the bear lunged forward. Jove felt no sense of danger, somehow he knew that what was happening would not hurt him.
A wolf hand grabbed the bearâ€™s wrist, and with a short shove turned the lunge from grounded, to overextended, to off his feet. The bear landed heavy on the grass, and Chris stood between him and Jove.
The bear was on his feet. â€œDion killed my father. One of the best sword sages in the world. How could an otherworlder survive?â€ The bear struck Chris in the gut, and the wolf made no move to stop the punch. The wolf collapsed, and the bear growled, â€œOnly going to defend him?â€
Chris gasped and managed to say, â€œIâ€™m defending you.â€
The bear paused, and Jove said, â€œThe only reason I survived is Magus Azarias showed up. He drove Dion away, not me. Iâ€™m sorry about your father, but shouldnâ€™t you be happy that Dion was stopped?â€
â€œAn otherworlder like you couldnâ€™t have stopped him.â€ The bear growled again, and Jove could see the earth and fire energy build around him. This time there was a sense of danger. â€œLava Eruption.â€
Jove reacted on instinct, putting his arms in front of himself. â€œStop.â€ The phrase was confident, not unlike with the dragon, although not nearly as intense. It came with a similar feeling of energy that passed through him.
Nothing happened. At least for a few moments. Then the bear yelled, â€œYouâ€™re a null? You beat Dion because youâ€™re a null!â€ He leapt at Jove, without magic and without discipline.
This time Tan intercepted the bear. As the jaguar was not the focus of the bearâ€™s rage, he managed to pull the bear away from the fox. Chris had also recovered, and was soon helping to pin the bear to the ground.
Someone else had noticed what was occurring. â€œJulius!â€ The newcomer was a leopard, a bit older than Jove and the bear, wearing the same green robes. He quickly walked up. â€œStop this before you embarrass yourself further.â€
The bear, Julius, stopped and got quiet. â€œEvan, I was just…â€
â€œYou were just fighting a friend of mine.â€ The leopard walked up, and nodded at Chris. â€œItâ€™s good to see you again, Christian. Iâ€™m glad you managed to get away from your parents.â€ He attempted to hug Chris, but the wolf did not react, and he stopped.
â€œChristian?â€ The bear stuttered, mouth agape as he looked at the wolf, â€œChristian Dimitri?â€ He looked horrified. â€œI- I didnâ€™t know. Iâ€™m sorry.â€
The leopard forced a smile, â€œI am sorry for my lodge brother. Some painful memories obviously have come forth, and his noble blood was taught to distrust the other world. I hope we can meet again on a better day.â€ He turned to Jove, â€œI am Evan Dagaan. Once again, please forgive what happened. Once my brother returns to himself, heâ€™ll realize your actions did the world a favor. A formal introduction will have to wait. If you will permit, I should deal with lodge matters.â€
Stunned, Jove nodded. He watched as Evan escorted Julius towards a different part of the dorms. â€œShould we get Chris to the nurse, or whatever they have here?â€
Tan shook his head, â€œI can heal it. Itâ€™s just a bruise.â€ He turned to Chris, â€œUnless you think it might be more. Iâ€™m still a novice at healing, so if something ruptured or broke, weâ€™ll want someone else to take a look at your injury.â€
Chris didnâ€™t react.
Tan sighed, and started tracing what appeared to be runes in the air. â€œI donâ€™t understand why you have no problem talking sometimes, and you canâ€™t tell me if you think youâ€™re injured.â€
Jove shrugged, â€œI get the impression he only speaks when he needs to. You can tell how injured he is by looking at where he got punched.â€
The blue runes that floated in midair faded into the wolfâ€™s chest. Tan said, â€œLooks like itâ€™s just a bruise. This should heal it in an hour or so. Heâ€™s okay to walk.â€
The three of them continued their trip back to their room. As they left the courtyard, Jove asked, â€œSo, whoâ€™s Evan Dagaan?â€
Since Chris didnâ€™t answer, Tan explained, â€œIf I remember, he was raised as a sacrifice, similar to Christian. About a year ago, his parents were exposed as Vorax and killed while being arrested. If I recall, his education was paid for by a trust they set up. He probably met Chris while their parents were at some kind of Vorax meeting.â€ Tan shuddered visibly, â€œHe probably only knows Chris from when the geas were fully in place. His parents forced him to seem normal. My parents threatened that a few times.â€
â€œTan, itâ€™s all right.â€ Jove put a hand on the jaguarâ€™s shoulder. â€œYou get to live on your own for at least a year. The hard part is over, and you can find out who you are when theyâ€™re not around.â€
The jaguar calmed. â€œThank you. You might have noticed that my parents and I donâ€™t get along. They were very concerned that I would sully the Tezcacoatl name while I was here. It will be nice to not hear about my brother for a while.â€
Jove asked, â€œLiving in his shadow?â€
Tan shook his head, â€œNo. My twin brother died in childbirth. My parents blamed me for his death. They thought my magic ate his. When they found out I had two magic auras, they accused me of stealing his and went through all those accusations again.â€
â€œWell, at least youâ€™re free of them for a while.â€ He laughed, â€œand they donâ€™t have to know everything you do here.â€
Tan nodded, â€œThey would be upset if they knew I was sharing a suite with an otherworlder. Actually, I could see them reacting similar to that bear, if they knew what you were and what you did. Of course, they wouldnâ€™t be caught dead being visibly angry. Showing emotion is beneath them. Well, unless you count contempt.â€
â€œWait,â€ Jove said, â€œHow did Julius know what I did? I mean, it was made public that Dionâ€™s magic was sealed, but did it mention that a fox did it? Iâ€™m sure South said my name wasnâ€™t used.â€
The roommates stopped and looked at each other. They all knew the answer, but none of them wanted to say it out loud. The only real way that Julius could have known it was Jove that bested Dion. A Vorax must have told him.<< TS10: A Simple Question || TS12: More Questions >>