The elephant shouted. â€œThis is Jove? You didnâ€™t say he was an atavist.â€
â€œHeâ€™s not.â€ Azarias sounded defensive. Not what Jove had come to expect. â€œHe wasnâ€™t.â€
Joveâ€™s eyes finally focussed. The elephant looked remarkably young, about the same age as Jove. The suit was a deep mustard color, perfectly pressed and apparently enchanted to remain that way. What Jove had assumed was blurry vision had been correct. The elephantâ€™s head was much more animalistic, with enlarged ears and a nose that hung down past his chin. On his head was a simple gold circlet with a gap over the center of his forehead. When he stepped forward, a second set of arms became visible. â€œPerhaps you would like to explain what is going on here?â€
Mug was on her feet and storming over filled with anger. â€œHey kid! He risked his life to help Elsa.â€
She was restrained by Tan and Chris. Tan whispered, â€œThis is the council rep.â€ Mug just stared in disbelief.
â€œAstute students.â€ His nose reached into his breast pocket to draw out a pair of glasses. While it was placing them on his face, he started simple arcane gestures with his second set of arms. â€œI am Animus Edward Humphrey, Council Inquisitor. I prefer Inquisitor Edward but either part of that is fine.â€ He did not wait for a response, his spell was finished and the two gesturing arms made a show of lifting Jove.
An invisible telekinetic force responded. It felt sick, like the magic flowed wrong, as it picked the fox off the ground. Jove had no reference for what it meant. He tried to ask a question but he was too drained from his time as an atavist.
The inquisitor adjusted his glasses with his nose and looked closely at Jove. â€œYou just outburst. Itâ€™s interesting that you have enough strength to talk.â€ His idle hands drew a small spiral-bound notepad and started to jot down notes. â€œNo currently active spells. No signs of atavist infection. Fascinating. I was not told you could use elemental magic. Do you have any idea how hard it is to perform an atavist transformation without being infected?â€
Jove could feel the invisible telekinetic bonds. His magic slowly worked to slip free but the bonds adapted. Like the briar the Vorax used, where the real spell was hidden. The struggle gave him strength however. â€œIt was her change.â€
Edward looked over at Elsa. â€œYou have a point. It seems we should let the students recoverâ€ He walked over to the raccoon, who was still in the primal form of an atavist. â€œA new burst is important.â€ He put his notepad in his pocked and offered her a hand. â€œCan you shift back?â€
Elsa shook her head and looked at the ground. â€œI donâ€™t know. Iâ€™ve never been in control before.â€
â€œWait…â€ The inquisitor closed his eyes and concentrated. In the center of his forehead, filling the gap in the circlet he wore, a glowing disk appeared. â€œYou burst… while changed?â€ His brow scrunched up and the faint outline of an eye became visible in the disk. â€œThereâ€™s another spell. Itâ€™s- like Dominus.â€ His eyes opened and the disk vanished.
Jove felt a sudden surge of danger and strength. The inquisitor spun towards Jove, one set of arms telekinetically pulling Joveâ€™s arms painfully apart, the other drawing a short hand-axe from nowhere. He only made it two steps before the arm that held the axe was caught by Azarias.
â€œInquisitor Edward!â€ He objected.
The elephant glared at the winged snake. â€œDo you have something to say, Magus?â€ The emphasis he put on the title had a dark edge. It was a dare.
Jove tugged at the invisible bonds. They refused to dissolve and the strength he drew from them made him feel sick. He found his voice. â€œYouâ€™re dying.â€ Flat intonation, a simple statement of fact. â€œYour magic is dying.â€
Azarias and Edward turned to look at Jove. The inquisitor casually pushed Azarias to the side and let his axe vanish back into the nothing it came from. He adjusted his glasses, â€œYouâ€™re trying to syphon off my spellâ€™s energy.â€ He relaxed his telekinetic grip slightly. â€œIt wonâ€™t work.â€ He pointed behind himself, directly at Julius, â€œYou. We need to speak.â€
Azarias got his tail underneath him and interposed himself between Julius and Edward. â€œLater.â€
â€œVery well.â€ Edward turned away from Jove and walked back to Elsa. â€œPlease forgive me, Miss Elsa, but I need to do this divination before we go. It will only take a minute.â€ He drew a series of runes on his notepad and they flared with a yellow light. â€œMay I?â€
Elsa, still standing almost eight feet tall, nodded numbly in agreement.
Edward tore the remaining pages out of his notepad and threw them to his right. The runes flared again and the pages flowed in a circle around Elsa; A swirling column of paper and ink. Invisible to everyone but Jove, dozens of phantom pens wrote on the pages for many long seconds. One by one, the pages filled and flew back to the pad, reattaching themselves with their observations.
Edward skimmed over a few of the pages. â€œUnknown element. Basic, simple spell design. Sloppy application. Unknown rate of decay. All typical of an outburst.â€ His eyes widened. â€œIt prevents you from changing form, but shows significant variation from Dominusâ€™ version.â€
Elsa whimpered, â€œHe locked me in my normal form to try to force me to burst without becoming this.â€
The inquisitor glanced at Jove. Suddenly the force lifting Jove was gone and Edward folded the pair of spellcasting arms behind his back. Edward laughed. â€œTypical for a teen.â€ He gave Azarias a knowing look. â€œLess fallout than when you encouraged Magus Southeyâ€™s burst. That was a mess.â€
Several moments of stunned silence ensued. Jove wondered how old the inquisitor must be to know when South first learned magic.
Inquisitor Edward offered a hand to Elsa. â€œCome along. Letâ€™s go see Magus Walton. You too, Julius.â€
Julius looked pale and terrified. Jove was about to say something when Chris interrupted. â€œIâ€™ll make sure youâ€™re okay Julius.â€ The four of them left, leaving behind a large group of confused students.
Azarias made an effort to maintain order. â€œThings seem to have settled down for now. I know you have questions but they will have to wait.â€
Mug asked anyway, â€œHow old is he?â€
â€œAbout a century and three-quarters.â€ Azarias pulled his wings about him and looked at Jove. â€œBefore you ask, no his magic isnâ€™t doing whatever it was because of his age. When Dominius showed up twenty years ago, he tortured Inquisitor Edward for several days.â€<< TS43: Magic Trick || TS45: Improper Form >>