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TS06: A Book Opens

The walk to the bookstore gave Jove an idea of just how big the university was. It was down a dozen flights of stairs, half a mile of winding corridor, down another two flights of stairs, and across one of the fields. The outside entrance had an old hanging tavern sign with the symbol of a limbless snake eating its tail. In old formal lettering the words “The Emporium” proclaimed the name of the store.

The building itself was at least five stories tall, and stretched for several hundred feet, anchored by one of the large walls of the castle. The Emporium was two of those stories tall, a section of the building with more windows to show off the various tomes, books, and other implements.

The door was heavy and wooden, with a little bell above that rang when Jove entered. Rows and rows of free standing shelves filled the place, filled with books, wands, packaged herbs, amulets… Anything one might need for magic or magical practice. Jove walked through the shop, reading every label he could. He noticed a sign for textbooks and headed over to that section. There were some actual books, but a lot of them simply had a single sheet of paper with runes on them.

South walked up, “Here, let me get your book for Elements of Magic Theory.” He picked up one of the single pages. “Most students prefer to have their textbooks in their grimoire. I have a feeling you’ll be one of them.”

“Mr. Azarias used his to do research,” Jove said. “Can the one I’m getting do that?”

“Yes. They all can. Although, initially it’ll only be able to talk to the network on campus.” The bear lead Jove to the main register. “You’ll want to get used to it. Many professors require homework be submitted by grimoire.”

An older female approached. She had a lion’s body, with an eagle-like head covered in white feathers, with two black feathered wings attached to her shoulder blades. Her hands were eagle talons, a feature one normally sees on a birds feet. She wore a simple red tunic with a small yellow badge over her heart. “Hello South. Is this the student you mentioned?”

He nodded, “Yes. For now, we’ll need his grimoire and this textbook. Oh, and a pen.” He offered the paper he was holding. “Jove, this is Hypatia. She handles the ordering and delivery of ritual components and textbooks. Since you don’t have any local connections yet, you’ll be relying on her for any kind of special orders.”

She nodded. “We usually have a dozen or so students from the other world. I understand it’s a big step, but you’ll fit in.” She handed South a form. “He’s still not officially a student. I need you to fill this out for the purchase.”

The bear smiled, “Of course. I don’t think anything will be able to keep Jove from the school.”

Jove blushed and nodded. “I’m still a little overwhelmed.”

Hypatia laughed, “It’s alright. You should have seen how I was on my first visit. It took me almost a year before I felt at home. Now, I’m one of those mages who stays in mythic form all the time.”

“A gryphon would be interesting. I hope I have a mythic form.” Jove sighed, “All I’ve been able to do so far is negate magic.”

Hypatia shook her head, “You’re not a null. Normally getting near a null would be painful in mythic form, and you don’t cause that. I was doing some research for Raphael on nulls. It’s unheard of for a null to have any control over their ability. I look forward to seeing what you actually are.”

Jove blushed. “Thank you.”

South handed Hypatia the completed form. “All set here.”

A quick check of the form, and Hypatia handed Jove a blank book. Leather bound, perhaps six inches wide, eight inches tall, and a good inch thick. The cover was blank, waiting for lettering, with complex arcane textures stitched throughout the cover, spine and back. Jove turned the book over in his hands.

Hypatia said, “One last step. The book needs to imprint on you. Without a mage to power it, it’s just an elaborately setup set of rituals and rites. We can do that now, if you’d like.”

Jove nodded, “Of course.”

With sharp talons, Hypatia took the book, and turned to the back cover. She opened a hidden flap, revealing a small square labelled “Owner’s Mark”. She placed it on the counter, and took Jove’s hand. “Ready?”

“Does a lot of magic require blood?”

“Just the premade rituals that depend on your magic aura. Most permanent items require a drop to get them to imprint on you. Granted, if you know how the magic works, you can skip that step, but you haven’t taken any classes yet.” One of her talons pricked Jove’s finger, and she pressed a single drop into the grimoire.

It’s hard to say when awareness begins. Most mages believe that sentience is a matter of yes or no, are you conscious or not. Sometimes it is a matter of degrees. Regardless of how the events would unfold, this was the moment that a familiar came to meet its owner, its mage. Thin gold letters appeared on the cover. Aether.

Jove closed the book. “Aether? The air of the gods?”

Hypatia added, “Or the fifth element. A powerful name for your grimoire. Well, I’m sure South is going to give you a few good lessons with it. I’ll see you when you come back before classes. It was nice to meet you Jove.”

Jove shook her hand. “Thank you again. I’ll be sure to stop by soon.”

On the way back, South and Jove settled on a bench looking out from the middle of the round tower. Jove opened his new book, pen in hand, and looked at the table of contents.

“Messages, calendar, calculator… This looks like a list of apps for a PDA.” He found one, “Help topics. Okay, let’s try that.” There was no page number, so Jove decided to try treating it like a computer. He tapped his pen on the listing, and then opened to a random page.

The title of the page said “Help Search”, and underneath was “Question?:”

He laughed, “It is a computer.” On the page, he wrote, “How do I add text books?”

On the page, writing appeared, as if it was being penned by some invisible hand. “Turn to loading page, it’s always the second to last page, and apply runic transfer.”

Jove flipped to the back cover, then back a single page. It had the title “Application Input”. South handed Jove the paper for his textbook. Jove placed the paper with the rune inside the grimoire, but wasn’t sure what to do next.

“So, how does the transfer work?”

South thought a moment, “It’s normally based on your primary element. A fire mage, like me, would heat the page until the ink runs into your book. Still, any mage can use any element. I’d recommend trying the one for earth, it’s simplest. You do a rubbing. With the page as it is now, rub the back of the paper with your pen.”

Jove had done that before. Silly games where you fold a piece of looseleaf and try to torpedo an opponents spaceships. He thought of that, games he hadn’t played in eight years as he pressed on the back of the paper. After a few seconds, it just felt right. He pulled the paper away, and the rune had transferred into his grimoire. The rune glowed, then slowly vanished, as if the ink was being absorbed into the book itself.

Jove turned back to the table of contents and a new entry was listed. MGC 096: Elements of Magic Theory. Underneath was a subheading, Elements of Magic Theory: 5th edition, followed by notes, homework, and test preparation.

South pulled out his grimoire. “Let me send you the contact list for campus, that way if you need to message Raphael or myself you’ll be able to.” He penned a quick message.

On Jove’s book, in the upper left margin, the words “One Message” appeared. Jove touched it with his pen, and turned a page. The message read “Here is the contact list. -South” with a small picture of a page underneath it. Jove tapped the page, and was asked if he wanted to import contacts. He tapped yes.

“The interface is a little different, but this works just like my computer.” He grinned, “I’ve been wanting to get a laptop, this is not what I was expecting.”

South nodded. “Glad you like it. Try sending me a message.”

Jove flipped back to the table of contents, and tapped Messages. On the messages page, he tapped new. “Do I just address it to South?”

“You’ll need to use Southey, or South bear. If it doesn’t know who you mean, it’ll give you a list of options.”

Jove addressed the message, and tapped send.

South looked at his book, “Let’s see if it got here.” He tapped at the book with his own pen, “Here it is. ‘What’s the real reason why Mr. Azarias needs to talk to my parents without us there?’” South paused before answering. “This might be hard for you to hear.”

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