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TS45: Improper Form

(Aeon 7: An Unexpected Burst takes place between chapters 41 and 42, but was posted after Chapter 44. If you missed it, you may want to go back.)

“I still don’t see how he managed to walk in just as Chris severed the connection.”

Jove, Tan and Chris were walking the increasingly familiar stone corridors of the school. Jove was thankful that Tan was willing to walk with him again. At least someone didn’t think he was a monster. “Azarias has a divination that detects bursts. It’s how he found me when Dion attacked. The inquisitor… I guess he was talking to Azarias when the spell went off.”

Chris spoke up, “I can’t believe he didn’t want to talk last night.”

Jove shrugged. “Maybe Azarias refused to let him near me after the swing he took with the axe? I know violence is a little more out in the open in this world, but that was kinda crazy.”

“Jove, mages here are a law onto themselves.” Tan whispered, “He’s an Animus. He could have killed you right there, said you were a Vorax, and be legally in the right. In that order. However, the council chose him for a reason. Chances are he’s insightful, not insane.”

Chris added, “Or his magic is resistant to what you do.”

Jove offered, “Maybe he learned that when he fought Merlin, er Dominus, before. He might still be insane, but the only one the council felt could actually judge me.” He sighed, “I hope Azarias would have warned me if Edward was nuts.”

The conversation quieted as they approached the room. Tan asked, “Do you think Elsa will be in class today?”

“I’m not sure.” Jove looked at the floor, lost for a moment in the guilt of what happened. He tried to shake the feeling by reminding himself that Elsa had burst yesterday because of what he did. He failed to notice Tan had stopped or that he was going to collide with a very large student when Chris tugged on his shoulder. Jove stopped and found that there was a second set of very large feet on the ground in front of him. Slowly he looked up to see Elsa towering over him, still in her atavist form.

The enormous raccoon looked down at Jove, somehow smaller than Jove despite towering over him. “I wasn’t sure if I should go in. I didn’t want to cause an issue.”

Tan smiled. “You won’t. Everyone will realize you’re the same you. It might take a few minutes, but it will happen.” He walked up to Elsa and gave her a pat on the side of her arm. “Anyhow, I need to head to Freshmen Orientation. I will see you in meditation later.”

After he left, it was still a minute before the three of them entered the classroom. Jove’s hand reached for a hilt of a sword that wasn’t there because of an instinct he didn’t have. Inquisitor Edward sat among the circle of chairs the class used. The elephant looked different. While he still looked Jove’s age, he had only one pair of arms, smaller ears, a more typical nose that hung only to his lower lip. Yet, Jove knew him instantly.

Chris bumped into Jove as the fox had stopped moving forward. The jolt brought Jove back to what was happening and got him out of whatever combat stance he had assumed.

Hypatia spoke up, “You met Inquisitor Edward yesterday. This is his non-mythic form. He’ll be observing your classes today.”

Jove tried to hold back his accusation. He could tell that the inquisitor was using a spell to maintain his form. The false face made him edgy. It didn’t help that the sick, dying feeling from Edward was stronger today. Jove pushed it down. He listened, unable to tell if the sickness included malice or not. He found himself supported by Chris.

Jove mumbled, “It’s worse today.”

Edward showed no reaction, but his magic shifted with a nervous energy. He looked at the fox and sighed. His voice only contained hints of frustration. “You really do need to learn to turn that off. Let me see if I can help.” His magic seemed to pull into itself and the pressure Jove felt became bearable.

“I’m sorry.” Jove took his seat, finally noticing that most of the class was there already.

Hypatia spoke up, “I know we’re all a little on edge. The incident yesterday felt dangerous, but remember that the school has a lot of safeguards that prevent things from getting out of hand.” She shifted a little, her wings pulling around her. “Then there’s the other thing.”

Elsa asked, “What other thing?”

“Aeon didn’t update last night.” Aden said. “It was a major cliffhanger as well.”

Jove rolled his eyes. “It can’t be that bad.”

“He’s been building up to the burst of Aeon’s son for almost five years. The past few months, it was implied that George had magic that no one had ever seen before.” Aden paused, “I wanted to see if George was like you.”

Jove asked, “Who’s George?”

“James’ son.” To Jove’s surprise, Edward answered. “He doesn’t show up until chapter five hundred and twenty-one. James gets married and the birth announcement was part of Aeon’s ten year milestone.” In response to the stares of disbelief, the elephant added, “My generation reads Aeon as well. I was reading it before you were born.” Jove got the feeling there was more to Edward’s words than he let on.

Mug couldn’t contain her annoyance. “Who cares if it’s delayed? It’s just a story. It’s not like people are going to riot over it.” She paused. “Are they?”

Hypatia shook her head. “No, of course not. But, I’m sure that a number of mages who wouldn’t normally think of breaking the Oath of Habitat will be tempted to cross between worlds and track the author down. Plus, he’s never missed an update before.”

“He or she was late a few times.” Edward said, “But the updates actually happen on Fridays. There’s a two day delay before it shows up on the grimoire network that prevents it from being noticeable. No, people aren’t going to be stupid for at least a week.” Despite looking like he was too young for the class, Edward’s voice had a firmness of tone and a certainty that even Azarias lacked.

“I’m sure things will be fine.” Hypatia clicked her beak slightly. “The Council has a lot of magi who will keep order if it’s needed. I just mentioned it to lighten the mood.”

Jove took a breath. He knew that he wasn’t going to get an answer to most of his questions but perhaps there was one he could get answered. He looked at the inquisitor, “Speaking of keeping order. Exactly what kind of authority is an Animus granted by the Council?”

“The short answer is a lot. The long answer…” Edward looked to Hypatia and bowed his head slightly. “This isn’t my class. It is up to your teacher if she wants to take time to answer.”

Jove watched the obvious show of respect. Make that two questions.

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