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TS17: Introductions 2

The students were gathered in a circle. Hypatia was the last to sit down, folding her wings behind the chair. She asked, “Who would like to start?”

A female canine raised her hand. Her fur was black with dark brown shading on her muzzle, typical of a rottweiler. She stood up and said in a relatively deep voice, “I’m Mug, Fire Venator.” She paused, “Did you want anything else?”

“Whatever you’d like to add,” Hypatia said. “Like where the name Mug comes from?”

Mug thought, and shook her head. “Maybe next time.” She sat down.

The next was a female sparrow, with brown feathers that were darker on top of her head and lightened to a cream underneath. Her arms were her wings, typical of how most birds were in Jove’s world. Her voice was quiet, but carried a confidence Jove could hear. “I’m Kate, er, Catherine, Air Praeda.” She thought a moment, “I prefer Kate, and I’m hoping to be a healer. I was planning on going into pre-med before I burst.” She bowed a little, and sat.

Hypatia said, “There are a lot of different opportunities for a mage in this world. I hope the rest of you have thought about what you’ll do when you graduate. If you’re not sure, there’s still plenty of time. Also, while most healers are water mages, you should never feel constrained by your element.” She looked at Aden, “Or by your facing.”

Aden shivered, rabbit ears flicking around the room. Shaking, he nodded in response to Hypatia’s words. He closed his eyes a moment, and calmly stood up. He looked around the room, confidently making eye contact with everyone. “I’m Aden, Fire Venator. I’ve already heard all the objections and jokes about a rabbit predator, so keep them to yourselves.” There was no doubt that last part was an order, or what would follow if it was defied. He sat down and immediately started shaking again. He pulled out an inhaler and took a breath from it.

Something in the display made Jove feel confident. Aden wasn’t afraid of his magic, and Jove refused to be either. He raised his hand and stood up. “I am Jove, a selective null.” The words came easily. Jove looked at Mark, “I know some of you have heard the rumor that I’m a revoker, but even if I am, I’m not what the legends say. I don’t have a facing or an element, at least not in my thaumascan. I hope you’ll take the time to understand who I am, instead of listening to superstitions and fear.” And with that, the rush that let him stand was gone. A wave of weakness washed over him and Jove sat quickly, blushing and desperately hoping he had not gone too far.

Before the silence faded, another of the female students stood up. She was older than the other students, perhaps in her mid thirties. She had the black facial markings of a raccoon, and seemed to fight back emotion as she spoke. “I am Elsa, predicted to be a Water Praeda. I have not burst yet.” She paused, and wiped away a few tears from her eyes. “I was bitten by an atavist last month. I’m here because I am cursed, and I don’t want to be a threat to my family or friends.”

Another student, a green female frog blurted out, “What’s an atavist?”

Mark said, “Your kidding right? The Wolfman, the Abominable Jaguar? Mr. Hyde? Jekyll and Hyde?” He laughed, “Wow, have you seen any movies?”

“Mark!” Hypatia scolded, “Show some consideration.”

“But an atavist.” Mark kept talking. “Becomes primal during the full moon, claws and teeth grow, can only be harmed by silver. Its bite transfers the curse.” He stopped, a realization striking him, “They’re real?”

Elsa grumbled and finally sat down. “Yes. I’ve had three episodes since the attack.”

Hypatia fixed a stern gaze at Mark, “A lot of monsters you think of as myth exist. Vampires, zombies, and yes, atavists are real. You’d do well to learn about the actual rules before spouting movie nonsense. It’s a touchy subject, and I’m sure Elsa doesn’t appreciate your vulgarity.”

Mark nodded, with nothing more to say he mumbled, “Uh, so, I’m Mark, Air Venator.” He didn’t bother to stand, and then got quiet.

The female frog stood next. She walked over to Elsa and put a hand on her shoulder. “Elsa, I’m sorry for my outburst. I’m Jenna, Earth Praeda. I understand how worried you are.” She bowed her head, and closed her eyes a moment. “I killed someone when I burst. A mugger.”

Hypatia spoke up, “I’m sorry to hear that. As most of you know, a mage’s magic surges very strong when they first burst. Because the magic flows purely from instinct, it’s a lot more dangerous in those initial moments. That doesn’t make the actions any easier to understand or make it any easier to forgive yourself afterwards, but as you learn to use your magic, you will learn to control it. To prevent it from doing what you do not want it to do.” She looked over at Jenna, “If you need a minute, we have time.”

Jenna shook her head. “I’m alright.” She did, however, move her seat next to Elsa before she sat down.

A stocky bear-like female stood next. Jove to recognized her as a wolverine. “I’m Paula, potential Earth Praeda. I haven’t burst yet, and I was concerned about the implications of Praeda. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the histories of the facings.” She bowed slightly, and sat down.

“It looks like we’re going to cover that first.” Hypatia clasped her hands together, “but there are two who have to be introduced before we can start.”

A black feathered crow, wearing all black, rolled his eyes. He stood up, and protested, “This is silly. Duane is not confined to your eight classifications. Duane is only a mage.”

Hypatia sighed. “Duane, please, everyone else has, and it will be expected. Plus, calling yourself just a mage when you’re not well known for power is considered empty and arrogant.”

“Duane is the emptiness that consumes the hope of the world.” He paused thinking out loud, “Duane cannot be arrogant. Duane does not like this new world with its new culture.”

Hypatia nodded. “I’m sorry Duane, but goth culture isn’t nearly as counter as it is in your world. We can go into that this week. For now, would it be that uncomfortable for you to introduce yourself properly”

Duane sighed, and ruffled his feathers. “Duane… I am Duane, Water Venator.” He bowed his head, embarrassed, and sat down.

Hypatia explained, “We do have our countercultures here. We’ll be looking at a few of them, and discussing the dangerous ones. Also, in our discussion of facing, there are a few combinations that are rarer than the others. Fire Praeda and Water Venator are two of the more unusual ones.”

Duane perked up a little at that thought.

“Our last student is a little different.” Hypatia gestured at Chris. “Chris was born in Atlantis, but was specifically assigned to this class due to some recent events. I don’t want to influence your impression of him, so rather than explain issues that might come up, if there are issues, I will explain them at that time.”

To Jove’s surprise, Chris rose to his feet. He bowed lightly to the rest of the circle and said, “I am Chris Dimitri, Praeda and Hobbled.”

Hypatia gasped. “I’m so sorry.”

In the silence that followed, Jove was the first to speak. “What does ‘Hobbled’ mean?”

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