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TS42: Primal Burst

The gym was not normally busy on Sunday mornings. Classes were not held on Sunday except in rare instances. Most houses scheduled practices on other days and kept Sunday as a day to rest and do homework. Jove had yet to experience a typical day at the academy though.

He stood near the center, running scenarios through his mind, as Aden and Elsa took positions opposite each other. Nearby, Chris, Tan and Julius ran through the plan again. On the stands sat the rest of the Elements of Magic class sat for support. Except maybe Duane, Jove figured the crow just wanted to see something significant.

“I want to go over this one more time. You’ve all done the reading, so, this is our last chance to catch any mistakes.” Jove silenced the scenarios for a moment. “In order to burst, a mage needs conflict or at least stress. Venator, being hunters, most often burst during personal struggles.” Jove looked over at Duane for a moment. The crow had burst attempting to poison several school bullies; the struggle had been emotional. He turned his attention back to Elsa.

“Praeda are called prey, but their magic is closer to a herd instinct. Praeda often burst trying to protect themselves or others. The problem has been that all current attempts to get you to burst have simply brought out the atavist inside.” Jove looked at Elsa. “The idea is for me to suppress the atavist part of you, allowing you to burst normally. To keep you off balance, we added a few surprises.”

Elsa nodded. “That sounds right.”

Mark called from the stands, “What if it doesn’t work?”

“Then we try something else.” Jove added, “Julius, are you sure the gym has wards to prevent atavist infection?”

“Yes.” Julius rolled his eyes. “And again, mages can’t be infected the same way as otherworlders. We can’t remain atavists, even if we want to.”

“Then I think we’re ready.” Jove took a breath and concentrated on Elsa. He had spent hours thinking of just the right words to prevent her from shifting. He had chosen a phrase to keep her a raccoon, instead of directly preventing her magic from working. “Form Lock.” He let instinct do the rest.

Aden swallowed nervously. “Are you ready?”

Elsa shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “It still feels close to the surface. Are you sure it’s suppressed?”

Jove frowned. His words were awkward as he fought to keep his focus. “You won’t change form.”

Elsa looked back at Aden. “I guess this will never feel right. Give it your best.”

The rabbit stood with feet shoulder-width apart. He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Fire Instinct.” His right hand grasped the air in front of him and was pulled tight to his side, followed by the same gesture with his left hand. Jove felt the spell activate, as the fire energy from Aden’s words was pulled into his chest.

Silence hung in the air. This was it. Aden mumbled, “Forgive me.”

His form blurred as he ran forward. He pounced early, going for a downward punch. Elsa moved to block, forearms crossed, but Aden’s jump was short. He dropped to the ground in front of Elsa and swept her legs to the side with a kick. Without slowing down, Aden leapt into a somersault, his feet shoving Elsa hard into the ground.

Jove winced. He could feel Elsa’s magic attempt to defend itself. It wanted to change forms. It wanted to fight Aden physically. He held it in check somehow.

Aden let Elsa get to her feet before hitting her in the gut. He winced more than she did. “Come on. You can stop this. Defend yourself.”

Elsa growled. Her magic was fighting to break out. Jove felt it struggle. Something felt wrong. Elsa’s magic wasn’t looking for other outlets. It pushed against Jove’s block harder and it caused his own magic to feel caged.

Aden struck Elsa again. He closed his eyes, tears starting. “I can’t.”

Jove called, “Elsa, your magic sees changing as the only way to defend itself. Can you focus on another method?”

Another growl was her answer.

“Maybe we should stop.”

Jove wasn’t sure who said it. He was thinking of the problem. Elsa’s magic only knew how to become an atavist and didn’t understand why it would try anything different. It needed to be met by something equal, yet superior. Jove smiled.


That time, he was sure it was Tan. He ignored it. “Fire Instinct.” The gestures were easy to copy. He walked towards Elsa. “Do you trust me?”

She calmed slightly, “You’re scaring me.”

A desire to hurt others grew inside him. He knew it was his magic starting to mimic the atavist that held Elsa. He couldn’t rationalize it away. Intellectually, he knew that Elsa had to be in a ‘heightened emotional state’ in order to burst. Jove forced a laugh. “Good.”

Elsa needed to believe Jove was out of control. He ran forward and struck Aden with a backhand. A half formed idea channeled through him into a full spell. “Spell Lock.” For a moment, Jove paused. That spell wasn’t supposed to be real.

Elsa backed away. Tan shouted, “Aden, dismiss your spell.”

The rabbit concentrated. His face went from calm, to concerned, to panicked. “I can’t! It won’t stop.”

Jove absently cracked his knuckles as he walked towards Elsa. “Aden can’t do this. He sees you as not resisting.” He stopped a few feet from her. “I see the monster inside you trying to get out.” He stepped back and kicked off his shoes. “Your classes would focus on forcing your magic to choose another way. If I had more time to understand my own abilities, perhaps I could explain those other methods to your magic directly.”

A few of the observers were on their feet. Jove waved them off. His control over himself was thin, but it was there. “I know what we need.” With that, he leapt forward into a spinning kick that struck the raccoon square in the jaw.

There was a sickening crunch as her head twisted as she spun and fell to the ground. This was followed by a second, equally sick sounding snap as her neck mended. The atavist inside her wanted out and Jove did not stop it.

Elsa clawed at the ground with the long sharp claws that her fingernails grew into and pulled herself onto her feet. Muscle seemed to flow inside her body, adding bulk to her arms and legs. Her face elongated, going from a short muzzle to long one, filled with small but razor sharp teeth with elongated canines. Her whole body grew, even hunched over as it was, Elsa was taller than before her change. Sharp clawed toes burst from her shoes. She stepped forward and hissed, long thick fur bristling in challenge.

Aden scuttled backwards, away form Elsa and out of the center of the gym. “What’s happening?”

“We can’t avoid Elsa going primal. This is part of her. This is her magic in panic. It has to know this isn’t enough.” He laughed again, this time genuine. When Elsa shifted, Jove let the atavist curse inside himself as well. He stood almost nine feet tall and casually flexed his own sharpened claws. His voice felt distant, but it was his. Deeper than normal, yet without anger. “The best way out is through.”

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