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TS02: Application Review

Twenty minutes later, Jove, his mother and the strange snake in blue robes sat at the dinner table in a small house in the suburbs. The snake, Raphael, looked almost embarrassed at what occurred. Taking a deep breath, he began, “As I mentioned briefly, I’m a mage from the University of Atlantean Thaumaturgy. The university is the only school in the magic realm that accepts and seeks out students from the mundane world. Jove, you have a very rare gift, even among mages. I’m afraid that a Vorax mage got a hold of a prophecy about you, and decided to end any possible threat you could cause them.”

Jove nodded, “What’s a Vorax mage?”

The snake looked down at the table. “A Vorax is a mage who violates the Oath of Habitat, and devours other animals for power or enjoyment. They are vile criminals in our world. I suspect that their interest in you has to do with finding latent magic in this world.”

“I don’t understand.”

“We found you by accident,” the snake said. “Most people in this world inherently reject magic, to the degree that those with any magical talent focus their energies to negating all magic around them. We call them nullifiers, and the methods we use to find prospective students can’t find them.” He took another breath, and chose his words carefully, “You have shown an ability to stop magic from working. However, it’s not always active. We were able to find you at one of the times when you weren’t preventing magic. You only negate some magic. We haven’t seen that before.”

The snake’s words felt like a punch in Jove’s gut. “I’ve been searching for magic my whole life, and I haven’t found it because I stop magic from working?”

“Not exactly,” the snake said, “You don’t stop all magic from working. I was able to heal your mother, for example. That means you have some form of control over it. We’d like you to study your ability. It might lead to better detection methods, or a better understanding of where nulls come from, or even a way for a null to learn normal magic.”

Jove’s mother spoke up at that, “What stops you from just experimenting on him like some mad scientist?”

The snake sighed, “A fair question. If the process was biological, I must admit there would be temptation. But it’s not. Magic is best understood by the person using it. While we can teach techniques, and explain methods a student can use to learn magic, ultimately it is up to the student to learn. Likewise, if he has the ability to manipulate an element that I cannot, there’s no way for me to dissect him to learn it. It’s possible that a Vorax might gain some potential in that element through their forbidden arts, but they wouldn’t gain Jove’s own intuitive understanding of it. The only real way to learn about this ability is for Jove to find out himself.” He smiled and addressed Jove, “and we’re willing to help with that self-exploration at the university. If your ability is what it appears to be, then just publishing your arcane thesis would pay for your entire schooling and then some. If you went on to become a magus, you’d be exploring a potentially unknown aspect of magic.”

Ms. Astrom was not convinced. “What if he decides not to be a magic user? What if he just wants to continue on with a normal school and be a physicist or an engineer?”

The snake said, “I understand. With even two years of schooling, he’d be able to take advantage of our normal assistantship program. He’d be uniquely qualified to bring our less traditionally educated students up to speed in mathematics, for example. Plus, all of our classes not related to magic are given through a partnership with a regionally accredited institution and are accepted at any other college. Likewise, our undergraduate degree, becoming a magister, can be used to qualify for most Masters or Doctorate programs.”

Jove asked, “Which university are you partnered with?”

“Hudson University. If I remember, you did apply there.”

“It was one of the ones I considered.” Jove said, “Without financial aid, it was too expensive.”

His mother added, “It doesn’t make sense. He got a 1470 on his SATs. He’s a straight A student. He even placed at a national chess tournament. Why is it that you’re the only school offering him anything?”

The snake blinked, then started, “No matter how many times I do that, I’ll never get used to it.” He shook his head and continued, “You’re right. It’s too much of a coincidence.” He frowned and addressed Jove, “You’ll figure this out sooner or later, so you should hear it from me first. My guess is that someone is trying to cut off your options to force you to attend college in Atlantis. It’s probably related to the Vorax that tried to kill you today.” He smiled, “For what it’s worth, if you choose to go elsewhere, I will make sure any magical problems in your financial aid vanish. You have my word.”

Jove smiled back, but his mother interrupted, “How do we know you weren’t involved with what happened earlier?”

“I can’t prove I wasn’t,” the snake answered. “I understand your concerns. Given what’s happened, I don’t blame you for wanting to be angry at someone. I am from that world, the same place, but I assure you that I am nothing like that criminal, and while I can’t vouch for everyone at the university, I can tell you that his actions are against everything the university stands for. My concern is that a Vorax may have infiltrated the university, if they’re trying to force him to attend. If that’s the case, what happened today was just a loose cannon who couldn’t wait for their real plan.”

Ms. Astrom shook, “Will Jove be safe?”

The snake nodded, “He has people who want to kill him. All of us at the university will do everything we can to make sure he is safe.”

“I don’t care,” Jove said, “If there’s a chance I can learn magic, real magic, then just the chance is worth the risk. I mean, a dragon actually breathed fire on me, an actual dragon. I won’t give that up.” He turned to his mother, “I will be careful, but I’ve wanted this my whole life. I’ve been waiting for some sign that my feelings about magic were more then just in my head. Just the hope alone is worth a look.”

His mother forced a smile, “If you’re sure love, your father and I will support you.” With that, the matter was settled. “Although, I have no idea how we’re going to explain this to your father.”

The snake offered, “If it will help, I can explain things. That way, he won’t have to take things on faith.”

Jove thought for a moment, “That should help, but something else is on my mind.” He leaned forward, “Why aren’t you used to blinking?”

“I was born in the magic realm. This form, with it’s eyelids and legs, is still a little uncomfortable for me. If it’s okay, I’ll show you tonight, when I show your father.”

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