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TS04: Null Hypothesis

In a middle-income house in suburbia, three foxes sat across a coffee table from a winged rainbow serpent and contemplated a card. The snake looked through a small book, jotting down small notes. He explained, “Let’s start with the easy to explain. If someone who can be both venator and praeda takes the test, the card will tear and you get this kind of double response. I have not seen it tear into stripes before, usually it’s just a single tear, half white and half black. It can also happen if someone simply has not solidified into venator or praeda yet, but I’ve never seen that in anyone older than seven. The stripes probably mean either you can’t choose, or you can switch back and forth.”

Jove sat there, utterly stunned by the news. Over and over the same thought kept coming to him. If he could only negate magic, that would explain the response.

“If he is a null as you suspect,” Jove’s father sounded as if the words were offensive. He almost choked at the word null. “Could that explain why none of the lines have color?”

Raphael shook his head. He absently continued to write in his book while he spoke. “Normally, a null’s ability to stop magic is based on a twisting of their own magical potential. Generally, strong nulls, ones able to completely stop a mage form using magic, would have more elements they are strong in, not less. Ironically, if you have no magic potential, you can’t negate magic.”

Jove swallowed. That thought again, no elements meant he couldn’t learn any elemental magic. He shivered, feeling his body suddenly cold.

Raphael looked at his book suddenly, and poked it with his pen. He put the book down. “Jove, I’m trying to do some research into what’s happening. I need the magic connection my grimoire has to the repository in Atlantis to do that. Working yourself up is just shutting that down and preventing me from helping.”

“I used magic before.” Jove muttered, rocking back and forth nervously, “I felt it. I know that’s what I felt. There’s nothing else it could have been. I knew the feeling.”

“Jove,” Raphael said, “Jove! Focus. You can’t negate magic if you can’t use magic. It’s equally likely that the results mean you can shift from one element to another. I’m trying to track down a report of a similar reading from almost eight hundred years ago, before the Oath of Habitat. I have a half dozen researchers going back to original records of the times. Hand written scrolls, that sort of thing.”

That didn’t help Jove feel better. “Then why is the last line blank?”

“That’s what I’m currently working on. I can’t find any record of someone having a blank last line.” Raphael took another deep breath. “The only records I’ve found so far are from improperly done thaumascans. It’s possible you negated the scanning magic, because you got scared when the card tore. I don’t believe that’s the case. I’d have noticed something was wrong.”

“What else can it mean?”

“I have a few guesses, but that’s all they are. I’m trying to track down a precedent so that I can make an educated guess.” Raphael sighed, “I know it’s difficult, but you may want to think about it. These words come from inside of you, including the blank part. What’s your instincts tell you about the last line?”

Jove looked at the card again. Only one response came to mind. “That I’m afraid of the answer.”

Raphael nodded, “Which means that even if I can’t find anything, you will figure it out when you stop being afraid.” He smiled, “And the good news is that I can guarantee that your arcane thesis will pay for your education. This is a very rare situation, and finding an explanation for it will be worth a lot to the right mages.”

“What if I can’t figure it out?” Jove asked.

“No need to worry about that now. When you calm down, we can set up a time for you to visit the school, and get you some exposure to real magic.” Raphael shrugged, “I’m sure after you’ve taken MGC 096 you’ll have a better idea of what’s happening.”

“I’ll still be able to go to the university?”

“Of course. At the worst, we’ll train you how to control your negation abilities. It’d be a powerful protection against harmful magic, and there’s a few careers that they’d be handy for. Including research and teaching.” The snake picked up his book again, “You were looking into those, right?”

“Well, yes.”

Raphael poked at the book with a pen, “There it goes.” He settled back into a nearby recliner. After a few minutes of writing and reading, he said, “They’re going back to the original records, so this will take some time. For now, we’ll go with the assumption that you can negate magic, since you’ve done that already. When we get to the university, we can figure out some alternate ideas of why this happened, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Jove smiled at that thought, experiments to see what his magic could do. “So, what now?”

“The vorax that tried to kill you was just captured. They interrogated him, and he appears to have acted alone.” Raphael closed his book and put it back in his robe. “Jove, his magic was still sealed when they caught him. Whatever you did, it was a really big deal. I couldn’t do it, not without a day long ritual and maybe a month of preparation. Even a nullifier would have needed to stay near the mage they were shutting down. There’s real magic there.”

Mr. Astrom asked, “Did you read that in your book?”

The snake looked at Jove’s father, then realized the question. “Think of it as a cell phone. They’re linked, so what I write in one can be read in another, and I can read what others write to me.”

Jove asked, “So, when can I see Atlantis?”

“Under normal circumstances I’d take the family out to dinner, answer questions, and then arrange a time, usually the following weekend.” Raphael took another breath, “So, let me answer your questions over dinner, and the visit can wait until the weekend. With your permission, I’d like to keep some security nearby for a few days, just in case.”

“I hope all of us can visit,” Mr. Astrom said. “I want to be sure my son is in a good school.”

“Of course,” Raphael said. “I assume you’ll want to know how to send packages, make phone calls, and everything. Atlantis doesn’t get normal cell phone reception or mail.”

Jove could barely contain his excitement, “So, where is it?”

The winged snake smiled, shimmering and shifting back to his more humanoid appearance. “That’s best shown, instead of explained.”

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