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TS49: Soul Limit

Inquisitor Edward’s tone was significantly softer after the incident. He apologized for insisting the previous scene play out and for restraining Chris when the wolf had tried to help. His healing runes were a lot stronger than Tan’s. By the time Azarias returned, Edward had not only healed Jove’s ribs, but had also mended his shirt.

Azarias broke the silence that had hung in the air since the apology. “Julius is okay. He needs rest and time to reflect, but he’s in much better shape than before.”

“Why did you need me to release the spell?” Jove asked, “Couldn’t you remove it?”

“Kid,” Inquisitor Edwards voice showed the years of experience he had, even if his teenage face did not, “Do you have any idea how painful it is to have a spell ripped out of you?”

“Not really.”

“It’s like having part of yourself ripped out.” Edward gestured with his hands, clenching them into fists. “Like a kidney. It hurts; it leaves a hole; and it tears up the surrounding areas. What’s worse, magic is part of your soul. You can’t block the memory and you can’t prevent the pain; the soul remembers. Having you dismiss the spell saved him several hours of agony.”

Jove swallowed and looked down. The emptiness he had seen in Julius’ magic hurt that way. Jove fought back the depressed feelings and reminded himself the only way to not do it again was to understand his magic. He looked back at Edward. “What do we do now?”

Edward stood up and walked to the front of the bleachers. He stamped his foot and a granite chalkboard rose out of the ground. “First, what we already know. You are not Dominus or Merlin. However, you can use the same element they do.” Azarias raised his hand but Edward simply spoke over him. “I know they are probably the same person. If Merlin can manipulate magic, he could have caused South’s magic to see him as Dominus. We can’t be sure Merlin isn’t some prodigy or similar upstart right now.”

Edward took a breath and let Azarias settle down before continuing. “Jove, you are the only one who can help us understand what they can do. Which leads us to what I have seen you do.” The chalkboard started listing what the elephant spoke about. “You can control magic; shut it down or prevent it from being turned off. You can detect magic on a level that even I find difficult. You can adjust other people’s magic. And unexpectedly, you can mimic other people’s spells. Am I leaving anything out?”

Jove ran through a few things that had come up, but figured that his link to Aether fit under controlling magic. “I think my magic works in the Abyss. I was able to sense Merlin’s magic while I was there. Oh, and I Abyss jumped while dealing with the Vorax that possessed Mark.”

“Okay, so I’ll put that as two separate things, for now.” Edward smiled. “I have a few tests I’d like to run through with you. I do owe you an explanation for my behavior yesterday. Dominus did imprint on my magic an inability to attack him. I used it as a quick test, but that was a mistake. I don’t know enough about the effect. It might only apply to Dominus or maybe anyone with your ability can cause the same reaction.” The elephant sighed. “Perhaps you can find out what was done to me.”

Jove felt very nervous, “Now?”

“No, not now. Maybe next time.” Edward gestured for Jove to join him. “Now, I want to check something about your ability to mimic. Twenty years ago, it never occurred to us that Dominus might be stronger when faced with a stronger mage. What I want to know is if you use your power or mine. The spell is simple, a jet of flame.”

Jove followed Edward to the obstacle course. They lined up in front of a pair of granite blocks. Jove looked back as Chris, Tan and Azarias who smiled with encouragement. “Are we really going to melt these?”

“I am. We’ll see how much power you use.”

Jove found the gestures easy. Arm lifted, palm out. The words, “Fire Spray,” came easy. Tapping into Edward’s magic, that was not so easy. Pain and weakness washed over Jove. His legs gave out, dropping him onto the ground. A heavy feeling of exhaustion filled him, the agony of life stuck him, centuries of weight crushed his desire to remain. There was a host out there that called to him. A source that wanted him to come home. He stepped away from his body for a moment.

Rai caught him. A translucent ghost with red eyes held him and refused to let go. “Jove, stay with us.”

Jove whispered, “Leash.” He knew he had to stop what his magic was doing. Rai held him until the feeling pased. Jove opened his eyes, but it was Chris holding him. “What- What happened?”

Tan put a hand on Jove’s shoulder, “You borrowed Edward’s sickness as well as his spell.” He looked over to Azarias, who was chanting and drawing runes in the air. “I think Azarias is binding your soul back to your body.”

“Rai didn’t let me get very far. I was going to walk out of my body and head home. It’s passed. I’m not going to borrow Edward’s magic.” Jove made sure that his magic knew not to mimic Edward again.

“I’m sorry.” Edward bowed his head. “I should have seen that coming. You are frustratingly difficult to use divinations on.” His ears drooped, “No one told you what happens when we get old, have they?”

Jove had no idea what Edward meant. He shook his head.

“We can rebuild our bodies or make new ones. Aging means nothing to a strong enough mage, but we can’t cheat death. Around two hundred years old, our souls decide to move on. The pain in not doing so is unbearable. Having a goal can help put that off for a few years, but no mage has ever survived past their four-hundredth birthday.” He took a breath and closed his eyes. “Dominus warped my soul so it ages twice as fast as it should. That feeling you just had was the desire to move on one feels at three and a half centuries.”

Tan asked what Jove was thinking. “You feel that every day?”

“I am not certain it is as bad for me. I know the effect is artificial. My goal is to live out my normal lifespan.” He opened his eyes and wiped away half-formed tears. “Next year my name will make it into the history books. With an asterisk. Since it’s artificial aging.”

Jove started to ask if he would be able to help but stopped. If it could be undone, he would be able to help. What stopped his thoughts was the other side. Could he slow down the aging of a soul? The consequences of that did not sit well in his mind. Then came the other concern, would he be able to help soon enough to safe Edward’s life?

Edward straitened his tie and his expression returned to a business-like calm. “We’ll have to do that test again another time. I won’t be participating though. What I’d like to talk about now is the way you’ve challenged magic truths held for three hundred years.”

Jove swallowed hard. He was definitely not ready to talk about mortality.

“The eighteenth century saw the last advances on causing atavist to burst. At that time it was theorized that causing an atavist to burst while in atavist form was impossible. As you might expect, there has been no study that intentionally infected mages before they burst, so any advancement in this area is slow and circumstantial.” He pulled out his notepad and a pen. “The five of you were most involved with this. What strategies did you use?”

Aden asked, “Five of us?”

“You, Jove, Christian, Hevothotan and Takrai.” He paused. “You can’t see him, can you? I keep forgetting I’m using that spell. Anyhow, if you’re going to be overturning centuries old theories, you need to get used to taking notes. Publishing will reduce what you’ll have to pay pack after you’re done with school and, in some cases, will allow you to be extended courtesy credit before you become Magisters. So, let’s begin.”

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