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TS52: Animus Evasion

There was a short pause, just long enough to Azarias to give all the students a visual check. He then turned. “I’m going to make sure he’s gone.” With that he followed Merlin into the abyss.

Mug went to grab Edward, but the elephant shrugged her off. She demanded, “Why can’t you help him?”

Edward was scribbling on his notepad. “I am helping. There are a dozen Animus who were waiting for Merlin to show up. They are engaging him now. In the abyss he has a strong advantage and he gets stronger the more opponents he has. Per my advice, they are engaging him consecutively, not concurrently. His magic only uses his own reserves. He will run out of steam soon enough. The only question is if he can flee fast enough.” He tore off a few pages and seemed to toss them into thin air. “If you are curious why I am unable to help directly, it is because my soul will leave my body if I enter the abyss. It’s closer to the afterlife than Atlantis.” He reached up and pulled an old leather bound book out of thin air. One pair of hands continued to write in the spiral notepad as the other pair leafed through the grimoire. “Animus Jove, may I have permission to hide your new title? Before too many issues arise from it.”

Jove blinked. He had assumed Merlin’s statement was a joke. “Uh, yeah. It’s not like I went through the real test, right?”

Edward wrote in both his book and notepad. “What was done was a valid test. It is believed only an Animus can stop an outburst like you did. I suspect Merlin made the declaration to point out how little the rules apply to the two of you. The Council will not be amused.”

Aden asked, “How did you stop your outburst?”

Jove blushed and twiddled his fingers absently. “I’ve been borrowing one of Erickson’s spells to talk to my magic during Meditation. We worked out a signal.”

Mark shook his head and joined the conversation, “Wait, what?”

“Just a way to let my magic know what I want.” Jove looked at Edward. “Is that really enough to be considered an Animus?”

A female lioness spoke up. Jove realized it was Hypatia. She just felt like the gryphon he knew. “Seeing as how Edward is a little distracted at the moment. Why don’t I explain a few of the theories? And if Edward wants to add anything, he can.” She let the stone chalkboard wipe itself clean. “We’re not going anywhere until Merlin is stopped anyway. Might as well put what happened in context.” She shrugged her shoulders, letting tiny wings sprout. “Magic is part of us. We control our magic and it controls us.” Her features returned to that of an eagle, wings growing to full length. “An Animus breaks that cycle. The shortest definition of an Animus is a mage whose magic no longer seeks to control them. They are the master of their magic, but not by force.”

Jove raised his hand. “My magic said it wanted to listen to me. But, I don’t know how to control it. It almost killed me last night.”

“Hence the word master. It’s not enough that it wants to listen to you. You also need to know how to direct it.” Hypatia clicked her beak. “Still, outbursting on queue is often considered all that one needs to demonstrate. Some mages can fake it. Making spells that draw on the primal nature of their magic. However, it’s a poor substitute. A true, controlled outburst is very powerful. It combines the instinctual ability to invent spells with the ability to reason of the mage. When you recognized Jenna as not a threat and ended your outburst, you demonstrated that level of control.”

Jove shook his head. “I really have no idea what I can do.”

“Merlin must have known that.” Hypatia shrugged. “It’s possible that we’ll have to change the definition to take mages like you and Merlin into account.”

Mug grumbled. “I don’t see how Merlin has any right to declare someone an Animus. He’s a Vorax. Why would anyone take his word for what someone is?”

Edward put his grimoire into whatever holding space he kept it in and walked over. “That’s because you’re forgetting what your world is really like.” He kept writing with his other pair of hands. “If the head of a gang said someone was hard boiled, you’d respect them. If a gang champion got trashed by some punk, you’d respect that punk. When one Animus admits someone is an equal, we listen. Even if the Animus is a criminal.”

Duane asked, “How do you know Merlin is an Animus?”

Edward grumbled, “One moment.” He chanted and drew runes with his two free hands. “I need to cast through the network.” The runes glowed blue in the air and started to float onto the notepad. Jove watched in awe as spell after spell entered the notepad and was channeled elsewhere.

Hypatia spoke up. “From what I understand, Dominus was an Animus. Merlin claims to be him and has demonstrated he is at least Dominus’ student.”

Edward trumpeted, something typical elephants were no longer able to do. Jove watched Edward’s magic flare, then calm. He sighed, and put the notepad in his pocket. “The good news is Merlin has left the school grounds and no one was hurt. Sorry for the shout. We almost got him.” He sighed, “And he was an Animus. Especially considering how he got away.” The elephant turned to Hypatia. “I hope you can forgive me, but I need to talk to Jove in private. May we be excused?”

“Of course. I’ll see how much of the class I can salvage.”

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