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TS53: Simple Trial

It was the second time Jove entered Azarias’ office. The colorful winged serpent pattern on the carpet seemed to be in a different position this time and the torches did not cast eerie shadows in the mid-day sun. Still the granite table was imposing, even as the winged snake reclined in his daybed behind it. He looked up as Edward ushered Jove and Chris into the room and asked, “Why is Christian here?”

Edward directed the students towards a set of chairs with one pair of his arms. He delayed his answer until he had the right words. “As a retainer of the Vorax Animus on trial, his presence is required.” The elephant’s tone was even as he recited some snippet of mage law.

It took a moment for the meaning to sink in. Jove tried not to choke on his objection. “I’m not-”

“I know.” Edward cut him off. “Which is why I need to do this formally. The must be no doubt.” He did not sit, but pulled out his notepad. “South should be here soon. I really want this to be over so we can get back to important things.”

Magus Southey burst through the door less than a minute later. “Edward, what’s going on?”

“Sit,” the elephant instructed. There was no question of his authority for a moment.

South paused and almost objected. Without word, he sat down.

Edward infused his notepad with a spell and let go. It floated nearby. “It is now June 14th, ten-fifteen in the morning. I would like to let those present know that we are being recorded and that the Animus Council is receiving the transcript as a live feed.” He drew a second notepad and infused it with a similar spell. “The second recorder is for sketches and to verify the recordings are not altered. It is believed that there may be some subconscious alterations. Observing are Magus Raphael Azarias and Magus Francis Southey.” He drew a breath, “The charges against Jove are as follows: First, he is accused of conspiracy with Vorax, which resulted in his being declared Animus. Second, he has cast the spell Fire Thief, believed to be Vorax only.”

South winced. Jove could see the bear’s magic trying to pull back away from Jove. “Fire Thief?”

Edward held up a hand. “For the record, Jove has demonstrated the ability to minic or borrow spells from others. I do not believe the complexity of the spell matters. As a demonstration, I would like Magus Azarias to cast a spell Jove has not seen before.”

Jove shivered. “Are you sure? That hasn’t been reliable.”

Azarias spoke up. “Jove, it’s alright. Take your time and get a sense of my magic. I’m going to let you borrow the spell.”

Slowly, Jove nodded. He stood up and closed his eyes. The idea was simple, just listen. Listen with his magic to Azarias’ magic. He stood there concentrating. He felt the snake get up, and move to the open center of the room. He felt the few spells that were active. The one that held the winged mythic form, so comfortable it was forgotten. “I think I’m ready.”

Jove didn’t listen to the words. He felt the magic build, felt the motions that were made to shape it. He took a breath and spoke in unison, “Vortex Shield.”

The spell was not external. It was like his magic spun inside him, a whirlpool of magic. “What is this?” He shivered and opened his eyes.

Edward didn’t answer, “Let the record show that not only did Jove not know what the spell did, even after casting the spell he still isn’t sure. We’ve discussed possibilities, but from my observations his actions are consistent with someone who has only known magic for six months. I suspect that the more we learn, the more we will understand the threat that Dominus or Merlin posed. Regardless, it is my decision that even if Fire Thief is Vorax only, that such rules might not apply to Jove. In addition, he did not understand he was casting a spell that burns magical ability out of the victim while stealing their potential.”

Jove gulped. “What?”

“We can go into it later.” Edward sighed. “As for the other charge, I am positive Merlin’s goal was this hearing. He wanted you to know what Jove could do; he wanted us to turn on Jove; and he wanted us to know that the rules we have for Animus do not apply to them. For now, my recommendation is that Jove’s status as an Animus be put under review. While his abilities do allow him to mimic most of what we associate with Animus, his skill level is clearly not there.”

The first notebook chimed. Edward walked over and read what had appeared.

“Yes, we’ll have to refine our definition.” He sighed, “And yes, we’ll have to contact the Mysterium. But that’s a note for later. For now, I find Jove not a Vorax. May I get back to understanding how his magic actually works?”

The book chimed again and both notepads floated back to Edward. He put them away. “Well, they accepted my ruling. We can speak freely again.”

South looked at Jove. “You cast Fire Thief?”

Jove winced and nodded. “I was outbursting. It felt so natural in Merlin’s magic. He was so possessive of it. I think he was proud of it.”

Azarias took a breath. “Dominus claimed he invented that spell. He also said no one else could cast it. Perhaps it’s based on your element.” He paused. “Do we have a name for it yet?”

Jove said. “I’ve been using Meta. As in metamagic.”

“That’s good enough for now.” Edward said. “Fire Thief is likely that Meta element, which is why only Dominus could cast it. That complicates things. Like explaining how you managed to stop your outburst so easily.”

Jove asked the inquisitor, “Is the trial still happening?”

“No, but I am still here to evaluate you.” He paused. “Alright, I’ll go first. When Dominus tortured me, he ripped out my natural form. While it’s true that my soul aging is stronger there, the real issue is that if I assume my non-mythic form, I will die.”

Jove was speechless for a moment. He blinked dumbly. “I guess what I did isn’t so bad then. I borrowed Erickson’s spell that lets him talk to his magic. We worked out a cue to outburst and to stop.”

South spoke up. “Do you have any idea how advanced that magic is?”

Azarias answered for him, “About as much as Vortex Shield. Jove, what you cast takes incoming spell energy and traps it. Preventing the mage from using it again until you release it. It’s as close as I can get to being a null. Freaks people out when they see it for the first time.”

Jove nodded. “I guess that was easier for me to cast. It felt weird inside.” He smiled then it faded. “I’m sorry to cause so much trouble.”

Edward shook his head. “It’s more than most. But if it helps stop Merlin, then it’s worth it.” He sighed and looked at Chris. “There’s one more thing. The real reason that Chris needed to come along. Something I have not told the Council yet.” He looked at the wolf. “Chris, do you know what I’m about to say? It will definitely help things if you understand what’s going on.”

Chris winced at the attention. He thought for a moment, then said, “I used Meta when I cut Jove’s magic to stop the Fire Instinct he borrowed from Aden.”

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