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TS27: Hidden Anger

Later that day, about halfway through South’s class, Jove found himself wondering how South could be Praeda. Jove’s whole body hurt from practicing basic strikes and blocks. One punch, one kick, one block for each. Aden set off the wards twice, but wanted to try to keep control of his magic himself. Jove figured Aden was still upset about yesterday.

“Okay, everyone take a break,” South shouted. “Catch your breath, and we’ll pair up for the next part. I want to stress this is not going to be sparing, yet. We’re only going to continue our practice, only one of you will do the attacks with the other blocking.”

Julius said, “Hey, Jove. You’re with me.” The bear’s tone was insistent, and reminded Jove of when they first met. Julius had been social enough during ARC the night before, perhaps he was being influenced by a Vorax.

Chris made a move to intercede, but Jove waved the wolf away. “Chris, I can handle it.”

Jove walked over to Julius and they stood facing each other. Jove looked at the bear, trying to sense if there were any active spells. He asked, “Why do you need to take this class? Haven’t you gone beyond it?”

“I can fight,” Julius said, “with magic.”

“You forgot the basics. Is that required for the test for apprentice?”

“Shut up.”

South raised his hand, “Is everyone ready? Again, this is not a sparring match, this is to get used to doing the kata with another person there.” He paused, “Begin.”

Jove punched. A basic strike, turning shoulders to add some force, solid stance to keep balance. Julius effortlessly knocked it aside. A basic block, using the forearm to push the fist aside. Something flared inside Jove. A little heat, directed at Julius. From the exertion. Numbly, Jove did the second attack.

A basic side kick, leg pulled up, then extended, striking with the top of the foot. Julius made a similar motion, a low sweep with his forearm, to stop the kick’s momentum. A second flare, stronger this time, a warmth that filled his chest. Anger, anger directed at Julius. Suddenly, he felt danger, but not from Julius. Was the Vorax nearby?

“Stop daydreaming,” Julius said. He punched Jove, but Jove was too distracted to block. Pain touched the heat in Jove’s chest.

Jove’s senses sharpened. He smiled and closed his eyes. “It’s ok Julius. Don’t hold back. I know it’s making you angry. I can feel it.” Best to deal with the nearby issue, so things would be quiet enough to sense the bigger threat.

Julius laughed. “Sure.” Several of the wards nearby became visible, glowing green and red. Julius changed his stance and shouted “Lava Channel!”

It felt like slow motion. More and more wards were becoming visible, perhaps in response to Jove’s desire not to be hurt. Jove opened his eyes to see Julius’ fist, covered in molten lava heading towards him. Such a weak attack. Probably because it was not driven by Julius, but instead by the black flame Jove could now see inside Julius.

Jove caught the fist, lava dissipating at his touch. “I’m going to fix it now.” In the distance he could hear South shouting something. Jove didn’t care, the larger danger was still here.

Jove’s hand reached out on its own, and grabbed something stuck in Julius’ chest. Jove pulled, and a knife made of red energy became visible as it came free of Julius’ heart. Jove squeezed and the knife shattered, and the danger from Julius vanished. Julius collapsed on the floor.

“What the hell are you doing?” The voice was Mark. Somehow, the stoat’s voice cut through the focus Jove had. “You’re thralling him, aren’t you?”

The rest of the rom seemed to materialize to Jove’s senses again. Everyone had stopped, South was still shouting. The students were all looking at him like he was a monster. Like he was a revoker. Jove spoke, but he couldn’t hear his own voice. He knew he said, “No, that’s not it. It was like Aden.”

Mark approached, ignoring South’s order to stay away. “You thralled Aden!”

Julius started to force his limbs to move, pushing himself away from Jove. “No, stay away! Keep him away!”

South shouted something. He ran around Jove and Mark to Julius. The other students were backing away, whispering among themselves. All except Chris. Chris was staring, perhaps he knew something was still wrong. None of the other sounds seemed real. Why could Jove only hear Mark?

Mark turned and responded, “See? Julius is terrified of the revoker!”

“I’m not a revoker.” Jove’s voice sounded odd, as distant as the other sounds in the room. Plus he was sure that wasn’t entirely true, not anymore. Jove also knew there was no time to worry about what he was. The danger was still here, but there was too much magic. He could not make out where it was. The wards drowned out the magic from the smaller spells. Jove looked at Mark, was there another black flame inside him?

Mark started to walk towards Julius, “It’s okay. He won’t hurt you.”

Julius screamed, “Keep away!” He continued to back away. Not from Jove, but from Mark. The bear was trying to say something but couldn’t get the words out. For a moment, Jove could make out blood-red flowers that seemed to grow out of his mouth, with petals latched onto the bear’s lips, preventing him from saying what he needed. Jove knew it was a geas.

Jove held out his hand. Mark interposed himself, “I won’t let you harm him any more.”

“Julius,” Jove spoke, “You may speak.” The words formed an invisible arc that lashed out and severed the geas.

“Mark!” Julius screamed, “Mark is a Vorax!”

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