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TS15: Polite Facade

“Mom! Dad! Over here!” Jove waved to his parents as Azarias’ air shield dissipated. The top of the large central tower was well lit by the late evening sun. A cooling summer breeze filtered past as the two foxes met their son.

Jove hugged his parents. “How was the trip?”

His father smiled. “Better than last time, I think I could get used to flying that way.”

“Really Dad?”

“Of course. Hopefully we can visit often.” He turned to Azarias, “I hope we’re not inconveniencing you. Amy and I really appreciate you going out of your way to give us a ride.”

“Not at all Mr. Astrom.” Magus Azarias stetched his wings then folded them behind his back. “I was in your world on business anyway and it was only a few minutes out of my way.”

“I don’t see how that’s possible, and call me Tim.”

“Distances are not consistent between our worlds. Sometimes we save travel time by hopping between them.” The snake shrugged, “I do have a few things I should get to, and I’m sure you have a lot of questions for Jove.”

“Thanks again,” Mr. Astrom said. He turned back to Jove and noticed the wolf standing nearby. “Who’s your friend?”

Jove blushed. “This is Chris. He’s been helpful the past two days.” Jove had no idea how to explain Chris’ oath, or that the wolf was the son of the dragon that almost killed his mother.

“Nice to meet you.” Mr. Astrom offered his hand, and to Jove’s surprise Chris shook it. For a moment, everything seemed normal. Just a moment.

Chris’ eyes went wide and he squeezed Mr. Astrom’s hand. Chris forced words out of his mouth, quickly and with deep feeling. “The day of the prophecy was at hand, both the best and worst day of Aeon’s life. His son would awaken and Aeon could finally tell George who his father was.”

Mr. Astrom was stunned, “How… What are you talking about?”

Jove stepped in, trying to get Chris to let go of his father. “Chris was abused magically. He doesn’t always make sense. I guess that’s a quote from Aeon.” Chris finally let go, but offered no explanation, so Jove continued to explain. “Apparently there’s a webfic that’s really popular here called Aeon. They don’t know who writes it, but something like half the mages here read it.”

Jove’s mother asked, “Why don’t the mages find out who writes it?”

“There’s concern that if everyone knew, someone would be tempted to interfere.” Jove sighed. “That’s forbidden by that second half of the Oath of Habitat I mentioned.”

Mrs. Astrom nodded, “But what about us? Why are we allowed to know?”

Jove stopped himself from saying the real reason. Instead the prepared response emerged, “Because you’re my parents. There’s no way I could just vanish and it wouldn’t interfere.”

“So, we’re allowed to know,” Mr. Astrom flattened his ears to his head. “But they can’t help out an author whose work billions of mages read?”

“Well, not billions.” Jove shrugged, “I think Tan mentioned there were under a million mages in Atlantis as a whole.”

Jove’s father grumbled, and turned to pick up some of the luggage, only to find it floating. Chris touched the last of the bags, which caused it to float like the others. He then began to tie them together.

Mrs. Astrom asked, “Jove, are you going to be able to do this?”


His father interrupted, “Of course he will. Our son’s going to be a great mage.”

Jove shuddered. “I’m not sure if my abilities will be elemental.” He took a breath, a nervous tick he had seen Azarias do before delivering bad news. “I might tap into a different type of magic. But, I’ll know more next week when I start classes.”

Mr. Astrom frowned and asked, “What do you mean ‘a different type of magic’?”

A laugh came from nearby. “Haven’t you heard?” A round-eared short-tailed weasel that had been watching stepped forward. He wore yellow robes and smiled a toothy predatory grin. “He got into a fight with a friend of mine.” The weasel shifted slightly, “My friend, regrettably, tried using a spell on your son that fizzled. Mages can’t negate magic after they burst. So, this fox is something different.”

Jove’s father growled, “Who are you?”

“Mark, Air Venator, and before you call me just a weasel, I am a stoat.” He shrugged. “I came here to test a theory. To see if his father was-”

“Shut up!” Jove shouted. “Leave my family out of this. If you want to help figure things out, we can talk about it after their visit. Otherwise, leave.”

“Okay, okay.” The stoat smiled, “Still, you might want to figure out a way to explain what the students here will think you are. It’s not like I’m the only one whose going to attempt this. I suppose that given a reason, I could ask the others to wait.”

Jove felt a sudden surge of confidence. He glared at the stoat. “How about I don’t tell Azarias that you’re threatening my father? I’m sure that will go over well.”

“Why would Azarias care…” The stoat’s eyes went wide. “Of course. I’ll make sure you’re not bothered this weekend.” He forced his face to look serious and bowed to Mr. Astrom. “I’m sorry to have bothered you.”

Jove’s family stood in silence as Mark turned and left. The stoat broke into a run after a few feet, leaping down the stairs into the tower. No one said anything, and Jove dreaded the question his parents would ask.

Mr. Astrom finally spoke up. “Jove, there’s something I need to ask. Even if you’re not ready to talk about it yet.”

Jove nodded. “Of course Dad.” He swallowed, trying to get whatever felt stuck in his throat dislodged.

Mr. Astrom said, “It seems you have a lot that you’re figuring out, but it bothers me that I don’t understand.” He smiled, “Why isn’t there any glass in any of the windows here?”

Jove laughed, grateful he’d be allowed to bring things up on his terms. “Funny thing, I asked Tan that on Thursday.”

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