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TS59: Ruler Questions

Jove had a lot on his mind as he got to class. Yesterday played over and over in his mind, as did the strange dream he had of his father this morning. It didn’t help that his parents had stayed the night in his doom room. His mother was worried sick and the revelation about his father made him wonder how much of his childhood was real. The thought his father had an entire second life full of magic made his heart sink with an ache that flowed into his bones. The idea that Merlin, his great uncle, had prevented his father from bursting was worse. Jove wondered how he would feel if he had gone through life without ever knowing what his magic told him was true. Yet, it was the nagging question of how many others had Merlin sealed that distracted him the most. Thankfully, a wolf hand tugged his shoulder and prevented Jove from walking into Aden.

“Jove, are you okay? All I was able to get out of South was that your parents were safe.” The rabbit flattened his ears.

“I’m okay. Just a lot to think about.” Jove mumbled. “Azarius wants to keep things quiet until we know what’s going on. I have no idea what happened last night. I didn’t get a chance to see South or Edward.”

“Are you going to be okay in class?” Aden said, opening the door for Jove.

Jove shrugged. He headed to his seat and sat without word.

Hypatia entered shortly afterward. “Jove, good to see you in class.” The griffon sat down in the circle of chairs. “I haven’t seen an official word on your status. If it’s okay, I’d like to still treat you as a student. You probably have a lot of questions.”

Official word. That phrase hit Jove in a bad way. “Word from who? The council? The Mysterium? They’re deciding my fate and I have no idea how any of that works. What do you know about it?”

Hypatia swallowed. “Alright Jove. It’s not fair you got dragged into that level of politics. We can cover that today.”

Duane raised a hand, “And I want to know what legal status Vorax have. They’re murderers, right? How can they have any rights?” He shivered, feathers ruffling. “Duane fears he may be recruited. Merlin looked right at me.”

Mug snapped, “Duane doesn’t really…” She growled. “Now you got me doing it. You don’t seriously think that you’re going to be a Vorax do you?”

Hypatia clicked her beak. “That’s enough. One question at a time.” She shook her head and looked around the room. “The Council is made up of some of the most experienced mages in Atlantis. When an Animus believes themselves to be strong enough, they can apply. The tests are brutal and sometimes fatal. They include mental and magical aptitude as well as intangibles such as compassion and the ability to lead. Although, they are occasionally waived when some other great deed has been accomplished. Usually some kind of humanitarian effort. It is possible for a member of the Mysterium to appoint someone to the Council, but that hasn’t happened in a century or so.”

Mug asked, “But, what do they do?”

Hypatia answered, “The Council is our highest level of government. When two kingdoms have a disagreement, the Council helps sort things without bloodshed. If there’s a threat to the entirety of Atlantis the Council organizes the response. Rarely, they also hand down decrees. Things like how much a mage is allowed to charge a village for his services. Things to prevent exploitation.”

“They feel threatened by me.” Jove wasn’t sure where the words came from. They had an anger he was ashamed of.

“They just don’t understand” Still in her giant primal raccoon form, Elsa offered. “The more you know, the less you expect your whole world to change in an instant. It’s the extreme change they are afraid of. Clearly you’re unique.”

Kate chirped in, the sparrow saying, “Elsa, you’re unique as well. After Edward freaked out I did a little research. There is no previous records of someone bursting while an atavist.”

Elsa shook her head. “Jove did that. I would never have burst if he hadn’t helped.”

“Most likely they’ve assigned your situation to a member of the Mysterium.” Hypatia shrugged. “I only know rumors about them. They are the best mages in Atlantis. Powerful and unknown. I have no idea how they select recruits. Most mages know they exist, but if they’ve met one, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. The rumors vary. The simplest ones state that the Mysterium is involved with delving into the deeper mysteries of magic. If that’s the case, they may be familiar with what Jove has been able to do. Other, more complicated ones state they are looking for the Praeda equivalent of Vorax. No one knows who they are, messengers occasionally show up to make proclamations. The last one was fairly recent. They stated that the distinction between Praeda and Venator needed to remain.”

Mug scoffed. “If no one knows who they are, how do you know the messengers are for real?”

“The last mage who pretended to be Mysterium was publicly humiliated. Had he been tarred and feathered, it would have been less cruel.” Hypatia twitched her wings.

“They seem to be willing to let Merlin try to kill me. Hurt my father. After all that he…” Jove bit back the words. “After all that happened. I guess I expected them to move quicker.”

“Maybe they didn’t understand the threat.” Chris said. “I’m sure they do now.”

“I guess.” Jove sighed. “So, what agreement do they have with the Vorax?”

“Technically, they don’t. Vorax are not allowed to have seats on the Council and they are criminals. The only agreement they have is that the strength of the Vorax are acknowledged. So, if they claim someone is an Animus or any other level mage, the Council treats them with respect.” Hypatia clicked her beak. “Duane, I don’t know a lot about them, but I do know they only recruit mages willing to kill for power. Vorax have some spells only they are willing to use. Ones that devour aspects of their victims or involve ritual killing.”

Duane nodded, “Those are the ones that Praeda cannot use?”

“I think so.” Hypatia smiled. “Duane, you are safe. You’re not a killer.”

The crow nodded slowly. Jove watched as Duane’s magic tried to make him object. Duane kept it quiet and Jove chose not to point it out.

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