TS50: Venator Offense
“In order to pass the practical at the end of the year, you will need to demonstrate the ability to reliably cast one offensive spell and one defensive spell.”
It was Tuesday and the lab section of Hypatia’s class felt awkward. Aden seemed normal, but Jove kept feeling that the other students knew about the incident with Julius. It was probably just his own guilt and the fact that the Warrens were set up the same as they were yesterday.
“Most of you already know a spell or two and chances are you will be able to cast a dozen or more spells by the end of summer. The key is being reliable.”
Jove was finding it difficult to focus on what Hypatia said. His dreams last night were full of concern that he was harming his friends. There was concern that he actually had friends to lose. He looked over to where Inquisitor Edward sat. Jove did not feel threatened, but he was still unsure what kind of observation required the elephant to remain.
“You need to be able to cast both spells while calm and during a light sparring session. Today, we’re going to focus on finding which two spells you will be using for the exam.”
Jove finally turned his attention back to the lecture. Two spells. He wondered if his manipulation of magic would count.
Hypatia clicked her beak and the stone chalkboard rose out of the ground in front of the bleachers where the class sat. All ten students were listed with a column for Offense and Defense next to the names. “Does anyone have an idea what you want to use?”
Paula raised her hand. “The two spells I used when I burst should work. I can do Stone Fur more reliably now, but I haven’t tried remaking Weight.”
Hypatia nodded and the two spell names appeared next to Paula’s name. “Those would work well. Some of the offensive spells you will be using may require a target. One will be provided in those cases. In particular, Praeda tend to have trouble doing that outside of a sparring match when the target just stands there and lets themselves be hit by the spell. Does anyone else have an idea?”
Duane raised his hand. The crow asked, “Would crafting a poison be considered an offensive spell?”
“For this evaluation, you will be limited to gestures and incantations.” She sighed. “I’m sorry Duane, but you will have to learn a few of the more traditional spells. Aden, your Fire Instinct spell is likewise not allowed. Jove… They might have to rewrite part of the rules for you.”
Duane ruffled the short feathers of his shoulders. “I guess if it’s magic Duane can be traditional.”
Jenna raised her hand. “Can we use the same spell for both? The stone hands I use are an offensive spell that blocks.”
“You’ll need two spells. It’s a little artificial, but we want to be sure you’re not relying on a single technique.” She laughed a little. “My first spell was telekinesis. I was really annoyed I had to learn a second one. It was worth it. Now, I’m as good with fire spells as air spells. Give it a little thought and we’ll get back to you. Anyone else?”
Mark raised his hand. “I was going to do Spark and Haste. I figure speed would be nice to know. It is a simple spell, right?”
“Yes, it is.” She paused, “Aden, Haste would be a good substitute for your defensive spell.”
Mug raised her hand. “What defensive fire spells are there? I mean, simple ones.”
“Wel, you have Haste, which enhances your speed. Flame Shield, which resembles your Fire Chain. Smoke, which makes a smoke screen. A more offensive one would be Flash. That blinds your opponent. The book has a list of common spells. If I were to guess, I’d say you’d prefer a defense with a little edge.” Hypatia said it innocently, but Mug blushed at the observation. “Let me pencil in Flash, we can always change it later. That’s three.”
Chris raised his hand. “Knife and Axiom.”
Hypatia blinked. “Axiom is fairly advanced. Are you sure?”
“I only know two spells.” Chris’ answer did not fix the several puzzled looks the rest of the class gave him.
Edward smiled, “I don’t think the rest of the class knows that one. Maybe you should explain?”
From behind a familiar, older fox spoke up. “Why don’t I explain?” He walked up to where the class was sitting. “Axiom declares your own magic as a self-evident truth. It causes other spells to slide off of it and it is the only technique that even slows down my ability to tear magic apart. Did you learn that by watching your father?”
Edward was out of his chair, axe in hand. “Dominus. How dare you show your face here.”
“Oh be quiet Ed. We both know you can’t attack me. Besides, I am Merlin. No divination you cast can be certain if I am also Dominus.” The fox shrugged. “Even if I was, I doubt you’ve learned enough in twenty years to take me. Besides, I’m not here for you. I’m here to see Raphael’s prodigy.”
Edward thrust his axe in Merlin’s direction. “You’ve seen him, now leave.”
“I will, but a claim was made to me about Jove. I will test that before I go. I will declare him a mage or not.” He smiled at the elephant, clearly dismissing the animus. “If you’re worried, kid, know I will harm no one else, unless they get in my way. If the claim is true, then Jove is also safe.” He fixed his old fox eyes on Jove. “What say you Jove? Vorax don’t need a defensive spell, so you only have to make one choice.”
Jove glared at Merlin. He took a quick look at Chris, then back to the Vorax. “No one else gets hurt?”
“If you impress me, no one else gets hurt. Now, what spell will you choose for offense?” He picked slowly at his fingernails. “Go ahead Jove. Impress me.”
“Impress you?” Jove ran through what he could do in his mind. Merlin wanted more than a simple spell. He wanted to see Jove express true control over his magic. Jove took a breath. Only one thing came to mind; he hoped it would be enough; he hoped it would work.
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