TS15: Polite Facade
â€œMom! Dad! Over here!â€ Jove waved to his parents as Azariasâ€™ air shield dissipated. The top of the large central tower was well lit by the late evening sun. A cooling summer breeze filtered past as the two foxes met their son.
Jove hugged his parents. â€œHow was the trip?â€
His father smiled. â€œBetter than last time, I think I could get used to flying that way.â€
â€œOf course. Hopefully we can visit often.â€ He turned to Azarias, â€œI hope weâ€™re not inconveniencing you. Amy and I really appreciate you going out of your way to give us a ride.â€
â€œNot at all Mr. Astrom.â€ Magus Azarias stetched his wings then folded them behind his back. â€œI was in your world on business anyway and it was only a few minutes out of my way.â€
â€œI donâ€™t see how thatâ€™s possible, and call me Tim.â€
â€œDistances are not consistent between our worlds. Sometimes we save travel time by hopping between them.â€ The snake shrugged, â€œI do have a few things I should get to, and Iâ€™m sure you have a lot of questions for Jove.â€
â€œThanks again,â€ Mr. Astrom said. He turned back to Jove and noticed the wolf standing nearby. â€œWhoâ€™s your friend?â€
Jove blushed. â€œThis is Chris. Heâ€™s been helpful the past two days.â€ Jove had no idea how to explain Chrisâ€™ oath, or that the wolf was the son of the dragon that almost killed his mother.
â€œNice to meet you.â€ Mr. Astrom offered his hand, and to Joveâ€™s surprise Chris shook it. For a moment, everything seemed normal. Just a moment.
Chrisâ€™ eyes went wide and he squeezed Mr. Astromâ€™s hand. Chris forced words out of his mouth, quickly and with deep feeling. â€œThe day of the prophecy was at hand, both the best and worst day of Aeonâ€™s life. His son would awaken and Aeon could finally tell George who his father was.â€
Mr. Astrom was stunned, â€œHow… What are you talking about?â€
Jove stepped in, trying to get Chris to let go of his father. â€œChris was abused magically. He doesnâ€™t always make sense. I guess thatâ€™s a quote from Aeon.â€ Chris finally let go, but offered no explanation, so Jove continued to explain. â€œApparently thereâ€™s a webfic thatâ€™s really popular here called Aeon. They donâ€™t know who writes it, but something like half the mages here read it.â€
Joveâ€™s mother asked, â€œWhy donâ€™t the mages find out who writes it?â€
â€œThereâ€™s concern that if everyone knew, someone would be tempted to interfere.â€ Jove sighed. â€œThatâ€™s forbidden by that second half of the Oath of Habitat I mentioned.â€
Mrs. Astrom nodded, â€œBut what about us? Why are we allowed to know?â€
Jove stopped himself from saying the real reason. Instead the prepared response emerged, â€œBecause youâ€™re my parents. Thereâ€™s no way I could just vanish and it wouldnâ€™t interfere.â€
â€œSo, weâ€™re allowed to know,â€ Mr. Astrom flattened his ears to his head. â€œBut they canâ€™t help out an author whose work billions of mages read?â€
â€œWell, not billions.â€ Jove shrugged, â€œI think Tan mentioned there were under a million mages in Atlantis as a whole.â€
Joveâ€™s father grumbled, and turned to pick up some of the luggage, only to find it floating. Chris touched the last of the bags, which caused it to float like the others. He then began to tie them together.
Mrs. Astrom asked, â€œJove, are you going to be able to do this?â€
His father interrupted, â€œOf course he will. Our sonâ€™s going to be a great mage.â€
Jove shuddered. â€œIâ€™m not sure if my abilities will be elemental.â€ He took a breath, a nervous tick he had seen Azarias do before delivering bad news. â€œI might tap into a different type of magic. But, Iâ€™ll know more next week when I start classes.â€
Mr. Astrom frowned and asked, â€œWhat do you mean â€˜a different type of magicâ€™?â€
A laugh came from nearby. â€œHavenâ€™t you heard?â€ A round-eared short-tailed weasel that had been watching stepped forward. He wore yellow robes and smiled a toothy predatory grin. â€œHe got into a fight with a friend of mine.â€ The weasel shifted slightly, â€œMy friend, regrettably, tried using a spell on your son that fizzled. Mages canâ€™t negate magic after they burst. So, this fox is something different.â€
Joveâ€™s father growled, â€œWho are you?â€
â€œMark, Air Venator, and before you call me just a weasel, I am a stoat.â€ He shrugged. â€œI came here to test a theory. To see if his father was-â€
â€œShut up!â€ Jove shouted. â€œLeave my family out of this. If you want to help figure things out, we can talk about it after their visit. Otherwise, leave.â€
â€œOkay, okay.â€ The stoat smiled, â€œStill, you might want to figure out a way to explain what the students here will think you are. Itâ€™s not like Iâ€™m the only one whose going to attempt this. I suppose that given a reason, I could ask the others to wait.â€
Jove felt a sudden surge of confidence. He glared at the stoat. â€œHow about I donâ€™t tell Azarias that youâ€™re threatening my father? Iâ€™m sure that will go over well.â€
â€œWhy would Azarias care…â€ The stoatâ€™s eyes went wide. â€œOf course. Iâ€™ll make sure youâ€™re not bothered this weekend.â€ He forced his face to look serious and bowed to Mr. Astrom. â€œIâ€™m sorry to have bothered you.â€
Joveâ€™s family stood in silence as Mark turned and left. The stoat broke into a run after a few feet, leaping down the stairs into the tower. No one said anything, and Jove dreaded the question his parents would ask.
Mr. Astrom finally spoke up. â€œJove, thereâ€™s something I need to ask. Even if youâ€™re not ready to talk about it yet.â€
Jove nodded. â€œOf course Dad.â€ He swallowed, trying to get whatever felt stuck in his throat dislodged.
Mr. Astrom said, â€œIt seems you have a lot that youâ€™re figuring out, but it bothers me that I donâ€™t understand.â€ He smiled, â€œWhy isnâ€™t there any glass in any of the windows here?â€
Jove laughed, grateful heâ€™d be allowed to bring things up on his terms. â€œFunny thing, I asked Tan that on Thursday.â€<< TS14: Revoker Questions || TS16: Introductions 1 >>