A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 2:
Entering the Academy

by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Jerik breathed deeply with an appreciative rumble for the level of energy running rampant in the walled city they were approaching. He could see the tops of the Academy towers, they almost glowed with energy. It was well beyond anything he'd experienced, though not nearly as potent as the memories he'd been given of his grandfather's home.

Of course, from what he remembered, there was very little that measured up to the Temple on Coruscant. This place ... it came close. Some of the towers had to be hundreds of feet tall, and even the main wall was easily fifty feet of solid stone that stretched around a virtual metropolis compared to the Rohr village he had seen. Torches along the outer edge of the wall burned merrily away, despite it being broad daylight. He could sense the magical nature of them though; it might well be that they couldn't be 'turned off' easily.

While the undercurrents of the Force were as smooth as they were away from the city, the vast number of mages, trained and in training, calling on their magical power made it almost like watching a boiling pot. It was vibrant and alive here, thousands of people inside, many of them sensitive, pulling the power around them too and fro constantly.

"Here we are," Melinda said with a bit of a grin as they approached the open city gates. "Academy City. No other place quite like it."

"Certainly not anywhere near here." Jerik breathed softly, enjoying the richness of the energy here.

"You get used to it fast," she reassured him. "First thing they usually teach is how to tune out the background noise. So, anything catch your mind's eye before we head to the Academy proper?"

"There is a dark place," he motioned slightly to one side of the Academy complex at the center of the city.

"The Necropolis," she nodded slightly. "It's not possible to keep everybody from practicing magic they shouldn't, unfortunately, and graveyards tend to be a gathering place for darker energies even without it." She reached up, gripping the ruby finial of her staff and closing her eyes.

"Just the usual problems though," she said easily. "If there was something different there, we should take word to the Elders, but it's just the usual ghosts. Might be a pack of ghouls nearby, but they're worse than rats to get rid of. If there's nothing else, why don't we go get you checked in?"

"Sure," he nodded, curious why graveyards would be places of unrest and darkness. It was were most found peace and moved on, not stayed around. That was the whole point of sanctified ground.

Of course, it might not work the same way here. Spirits might not move on as easily ... and it might not be entirely sanctified ground. It was something he'd have to ask about some other time.

They made their way towards the compound in the center of the city, a massive structure clearly constructed as much of magic as of anything else. The architecture was fantastical, great spires reaching up into the sky, the center tower practically gleaming with magical power at its tip. A few shorter towers literally opened up, tiny figures taking off from the top of them, flying off astride some sort of winged mount and quickly leaving the city grounds.

"Griffon knights," Melinda said easily, heading off the question she expected.

"The air guard?" Jerik guessed as he focused his eyes and mind on the small unit.

"You might call them that," she nodded. "They patrol regularly; take the griffons out to hunt. It's a lot cheaper than having to keep them fed off the Academy's output," she chuckled. "They eat an incredible amount of food."

"Anything that flies with that little wing to body ratio and total lack of aerodynamic qualities would need to." Jerik nodded, musing almost to himself more than her.

"Rumor has it the mage who made them had no clue what he was doing and was very, very stubborn," Melinda chuckled. "Unfortunately, he was also allergic to horses. They're not just stabled up there because they fly."

"They like horsemeat?" Jerik guessed.

"They love it," she nodded. "Favorite food in the world."

It was about then that Jerik noticed something. Despite the number of horses and other beasts of burden he saw walking through the city streets, there was a remarkable lack of the usual smell. He could smell them, but it was almost as clean as a city from his time ... cleaner, in some ways. He noticed why after a moment; a translucent person sweeping up some refuse and disposing of it nearby. No wonder this place was such a locus in the Force; its energy practically ran much of the town, from the look of things.

"How many people don't have work here?" He asked softly.

"Practically nobody who can work," she said easily. "It might be easy work, but they have work. The Servants are only used for the work that's at the level of insanely menial or dangerous, like cleaning up manure and trash," Melinda explained. "Most people who aren't craftsmen or skilled workers of some sort work in the fields, the guard, or pest control. There are larger cities with poverty problems, but we pride ourselves on taking care of those who take care of us. Even if somebody doesn't have work, Academy City brings in enough money from selling enchanted items that we can support them."

"How do you manage to keep all the poor and desperate from elsewhere out?" He asked as he looked around at the buzzing city.

"Relatively strict laws about people moving in," she explained. "The fact that it's difficult to move here from elsewhere if you can't afford to. If you have a skill and are down on your luck, we'll do our best to make room for you. If you can't work, we'll do our best. One advantage of having the largest concentration of wizards per capita; very few people try to argue that you don't have the right to rule your territory the way you wish."

"I can imagine." He nodded, thinking about the idea of invading the Jedi Temple or any Clawson stronghold.

"Yes, something about not wanting to argue with people who could turn you into a toad if they're irritated," Melinda chuckled as they approached the Academy buildings. "Oh, I'm not sure if you're going to be focusing on enchanting items, but Rawid's stall usually has excellent steelwork if you're looking for something in particular," she said, indicating a roadside vendor's stall run by a muscular Hyena. "Just future reference; not everybody likes to outsource for their materials, but it's a lot easier on the fur than learning to work in the smithies yourself."

"At the very least, he can probably replace the darts I couldn't stop to retrieve." Jerik nodded, taking note of the location.

"I'm sure," Melinda agreed. "He's done wonders for many mages who wanted a dagger that was worth putting a spell into."

"Might want to give him a pass, dear," Connor chuckled. "We're coming up on the inner gates."

"Thank you, dear," Melinda chuckled, blushing a little as she reached into her bag to pull out a small metal badge. "Here Jerik; you'll have to hold on to this for a bit. We have guards, but there's also a magical alarm to prevent unauthorized shifters from getting in. You'll get one of your own once you're in the Academy, but that will serve until then."

"I understand," he nodded and took the object. "Does it need to be in the open?"

"No, just on you," Melinda explained and watched him slip it into a belt pouch. "It dispels any magical signatures passing through unless it detects the badge. We have to pass through one at a time though." They approached an arch with two guards on the other side, young Dogs who looked like Jerik could probably take the two of them at once in a fight. Still, they were impressive and alert, and probably had some means of stopping a serious attacker by themselves.

"We found a new potential recruit for the Academy," Melinda explained to them, stepping through the gate. As she did so, a field of blue light glowed briefly, almost as though it was accepting her. Connor followed her through next, the two of them pausing to wait for Jerik who followed suit, his senses on full alert for just what the arch was doing.

He could feel it 'looking' at him, the magical field almost buzzing along his body lightly, but it seemed to ignore him after that.

"Not too bad, was it?" Melinda asked him with a smile.

"Not at all." Jerik answered easily.

"I'm still not sure it's worth it, Ma'am," one of the guards, a young Golden Retriever, grinned. "We had a visiting mage come by earlier from the provinces, and he didn't want to wait for someone to come and get him with a spare badge. He screamed at us for about an hour once he realized his defensive spells went down."

"Would've just been faster to cast them again," the other guard, a lean Saluki, smirked. "Done more good too."

"I have yet to meet a mage who took kindly to spell work being undone," Melinda chuckled, shaking her head. "Still, he should've known better. Well, good day you two. Keep up the good work."

"Yes ma'am, thank you," they said in unison, the trio continuing on into the building.

"I'm going to go pay a visit to Marcy, if it's not a problem," Connor said easily.

"Go ahead, just let me know if I'll be having dinner alone tonight," Melinda smiled, kissing Connor lightly before he took off towards another, larger building that was actually near the edge of the Academy complex.

"Old partner of his from their Guild days," Melinda explained. "Any particular type of magic you have a major interest in just now? Something you've got a talent for?"

"The way I learned to use magic ... I'm not sure even has an equivalent here." He shook his head. "We don't really do the spell use method."

"Combat magic, item enchanting, mind-affecting, illusions, conjuration, defensive ... something else?" Melinda suggested, rattling off the most common categories.

"Yes." Jerik chuckled a bit. "Body control, body enhancement, molecular alteration, far-sensing, foretelling, object reading, healing, combat-precog, elemental control, time control, space control, physical alteration ... that's just what I have a foundation knowledge of now. There are dozens more that I'll have access to when I'm skilled enough to use them."

"Hmm ... well, in that case, I'll just introduce you to Elder Shatrein," Melinda chuckled, shaking her head. "She's the head of the evocation school; I know her best."

"All right," Jerik nodded and fell into step with her, his eyes and mind keeping watch on everything around him.

They walked towards one of the eight small towers along the outer wall, then Melinda turned almost on a perfect line towards the inner buildings, and one of the larger towers inside. A brief time later, and they were at the base of it, probably eight levels of stairs to the top.

"Hope you don't mind stairs," Melinda said easily, starting up them. "My flight magic isn't strong enough for a passenger."

"If you can handle yourself, so can I." Jerik offered even as he started to climb.

"Why don't you show me how you'll take the first floor before we decide," the Collie said from about half way up.

Jerik gave her a sideways look before he gathered the Force around him and made the simple leap up the remaining stairs to land on the platform with a grace of one many years his senior in training.

"Effective," she nodded, taking a few moments to cast a flight spell before floating up to meet him. "I just distantly remember the first time my flight spell gave out half-way up the tower," she explained. "Spent the next few months nursing a broken leg, a few ribs, and several stinging rebukes from my teachers," she chuckled, taking off for the next floors up.

"I can levitate, but this takes a lot less energy." He grinned and made the next seven flights in succession without a pause for more than to change direction to hit the next landing.

Before long, they were at the top floor, two large doors opposite each other.

"The Elders of the schools of conjuration and evocation occupy this tower," Melinda explained as she touched down, indicating the runes on each door. "Elder Shatrein is the High Mage of the Evocation school, behind this door," she continued, reaching out to press a furry hand against the door, a soft chime sounding on the other side as they waited for admittance and Jerik focused on calming his nerves.

An answering chime returned a moment later, the door glowing blue and fading away to reveal a suite of rooms large enough that it could not possibly exist solely in the confines of the tower itself.

"Cool." Jerik murmured, not quite quiet enough not to be heard.

"Come in Melinda," a motherly voice called from deep in the suite, seeming to come closer as the Collie led Jerik into the room. A vast number of alien smells filled the space. Brimstone was the most recognizable, a pungent undertone masked by equally pungent incense and herbs, probably meant to tone down the various spell components and results of failed experiments.

The scorch marks on the ceilings reinforced the impression, and were vaguely unsettling as an elderly Wah woman came out of the back rooms. Her face was sleek, grizzled red fur split with white streaks. She was in relatively good shape for her apparent age, her long, red and white ringed tail sleek and fluffy.

"So, who's your new friend, dearie?" Elder Shatrein said easily.

"This is Jerik, Elder," Melinda explained. "We found him in the Blight, stranded by the crash of some aerial vehicle." The Wah's ears perked up and she cocked her head.

"Did you recover it?"

"Not yet, Ma'am," the Collie admitted. "We wanted to get him back to the Academy before dragging him even deeper into the Blight, he'd just gotten done running from Hell Hounds for two days straight."

"Impressive," Shatrein mused. For all her tone and expression were motherly, there was something in her eyes that made Jerik very, very certain that she was taking his measure.

It was fair, since he was taking hers in much the same way while keeping youthful curiosity and non-dangerous persona up front.

"There is nothing left of my ship, ma'am." Jerik spoke respectfully. "I saw it go down. It didn't even hit the ground."

"Definitely a pity. It might have been interesting to look over. So, I take it you're interested in joining the Academy? Where is it you're from, Jerik?"

"Yes, ma'am." Jerik nodded, and then looked up at her seriously. "I'm from a different world. None of the ones I know have three moons or a starscape anything like this one's."

"That makes sense," she nodded. "There is something about you, beyond the clothes, that seems very, very different. I assume you didn't come here intentionally, given that you did crash. If you have business to attend to, Melinda, you may do so," she added, almost as an afterthought. "I'll make sure Jerik gets where he's supposed to go."

"Thank you, Elder," Melinda nodded. "I'll send word before I leave town again, in case I'm needed. I'll be able to be found from my quarters until then."

"I don't expect anything's going to come up," Shatrein reassured her, turning and walking over to a comfortable chair, swishing her long, ringed tail aside and sitting as Melinda left, the door reforming behind her.

"Take a seat Jerik," she offered easily, indicating some nearby chairs.

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded and found one close to his size that felt right to the touch of his hand.

"I can tell you have some grounding in the use of magic," she told him as he sat down. "An unusual sort of grounding, to be sure, but you understand the basics. That could help you, or hurt you, in the course of your studies with us here."

"I do understand, ma'am." He inclined his head slightly. "Of the three ways of manipulating energy and reality that I am aware of, I don't have enough of a grasp on two of them to do much. My aunt told me that each person is best suited to one way of doing things, even if they can learn many ways."

"Not something I've always agreed with, but we only have one way of manipulating things with several subsets," the Wah admitted. "How long have you been studying magic?"

"Thirteen and a half years, ma'am. There were several in our colony that could touch mind to mind and share information that way. They also integrated data crystals into my brain so even if I was lost, I would not be without the knowledge I need to survive and make good use of my abilities. It's not as good as a teacher, but it is better than being on your own."

"And how long would you normally have been trained?" She asked, frowning slightly in thought.

"Mid-twenties. About twice my current age." He said easily. "It takes a long time to train the way we do. Those who use spell-magic, like I've seen here, would be finished in their late teens."

"So, about half-trained. At least you're still at the point where you should be able to learn a second method. And you're partly right. The basic training is done about then; however, the argument can easily be made that you never stop training as a mage. Magic is an art that often demands a lifetime of dedication to its study. Do you think you're up to that?"

"It is already the path I have chosen, ma'am." He bowed his head slightly. "Who I am learning from may change, and the details of its use, but I dedicated myself to my gift long ago."

"That is very good," she smiled. "Do you have any species you can't work with, for some reason?"

"If you have anything like this," he flicked his hand over to bring up a small hologram in his palm of a vaguely anthropomorphic insectoid with a creamy white-grey exoskeleton, a smooth rounded face and small black eyes. "I would really prefer to not work with them. I can if I need to," he couldn't quite suppress a shudder at the idea, "but they nearly wiped out my race less than a hundred years ago. Even if it is not the exact same creature, or it's friendly here, those memories are still pretty fresh."

"I have never seen a creature like that one," she said honestly. "An odd illusion; it doesn't seem to be magical in any way."

"It isn't. Magic has not been common among my kind for thousands of years. We developed technology to do what you do by magic." He said simply and turned it off.

"And yet the device you used to generate that is partly magical," she pointed out. "Clearly it isn't that uncommon."

"It has become common, only among my family, and only two hundred and some years ago." He explained. "I am the seventh generation to have any ability at all, and only the third to have anything close to mage potential."

"So you do have mages, even if you use different methods," Shatrein said, nodding slightly. "Well, that explains that easily enough. And if that's the only species you won't be able to work with, I'm sure we'll be able to find you a Defender to partner with easily enough. Would I be right in assuming that you don't have any particularly strong focus for your magical interests and abilities?"

"No, ma'am. We never really thought to do that. There aren't really enough of us to specialize well yet."

"There are enough generalists that it's hardly going to be a problem," the Wah said easily. "About half the students here never specialize, and it's even more common outside the Academy. It does mean that we don't have to worry about finding you a school that matches exceedingly well," she chuckled. "Saves time and trouble. Any particular type of magic you'd like to start with though? Just for the sake of having early classes for you to work in."

"Do you have shape-shifting magic?" He perked up quickly.

"Actual shape-shifting, or illusionary?" Shatrein asked easily. "We have both, of course, but there is an obvious difference between them."

"Real shape-shifting, ma'am." Jerik grinned. "I've always had a taste for the self-effecting physical uses."

"Well, you won't be managing particularly spectacular results until after your training is finished, but we do have a school that focuses on that," she said easily. "Elder Kora of the transmutation school is in the next tower over, a fine young ...." She trailed off, thinking for a moment. "To be honest, I don't think anybody remembers what he really is anymore, except for him," she chuckled.

"What form does he wear these days?" Jerik asked easily.

"Raccoon, usually," she said. "He changes forms like most people change fashions," she admitted. "Keeps a close eye on the staff that way; more than one of our instructors has been taken to task for being rough with the students after they made the mistake of being too harsh with Kora."

"I bet," Jerik snickered. "Effective way to work undercover."

"Quite," Shatrein nodded. "Well, you'll be mostly working in that school to start out with. The spells you'll learn fastest in shape-shifting will be relatively minor, most likely. Changing the size and shape of other things, altering your own appearance, that type of thing. Gross shape-shifting is much more difficult. Now that that's taken care of, we'll need to find you a Defender," she said easily, standing from her seat. "Would you care to go meet some of the unpaired trainees your age?"

"Sure," he grinned and stood to follow her out.

"We'll take a shortcut," she winked, turning around to lead him towards a rune-covered door in the back of the room. "Though you'll have to learn the way between the Guild and your quarters soon enough. Being one of the Elders has its perks." She tapped one of the runes on the door, waiting a moment for it to glow blue and fade away, revealing a long, empty hallway just on the other side.

"After you," Shatrein said easily. "It's keyed to close after I go through."

Jerik nodded and stepped through without question, though he watched how it worked in the currents of Force that flowed so freely here.

He was more than a little startled when, as he stepped through, he suddenly felt the Force around him still drastically, as though the ripples and spell use were some distance away for all that the gate was still right behind him. Shatrein followed through, the door faded back into existence, and another set of runes on the other side, one of them corresponding to the symbol on the Elder's door.

"Some people wonder why so many mages like to come back here to retire," Shatrein said conversationally, turning to walk down the hallway towards a door with sunlight shining through it. "I've always felt it was the fact that here we tend to live with the fact that we can use magic to accomplish incredibly levels of comfort."

"Sounds like the same reason people tend to move to the higher-tech areas," Jerik nodded. "It is much the same results: good food, variety, fast transportation, comfortable temperatures ... most of the things that make life pleasant."

"Basically," Shatrein nodded. "It's just a lot more difficult to add a new route to the teleport network than to add a new road. By the way, you might want to watch your head on our way out. I'm not entirely sure what they're practicing just now, and while they shouldn't be firing arrows towards any doors, stranger things have happened."

"I can imagine," he nodded and let his senses extend further ahead than usual.

They reached the end of the hall and stepped through the door, this one opening much more normally to reveal an open field.

In it, dozens of young men and women were sparring with various weapons. Swords, clubs, axes, spears, shields - a few of them bare-handed, but most of them were armed, or clearly had been recently. Species were widely varied; most of them were predators of some sort, but Jerik was surprised to see one Mouse in heavy armor holding off two much larger Foxes with a short sword and shield.

The idea, while one he knew of, intrigued him to actually see.

Towering above most of the young warriors was a Rohr male, practicing against a Horse in front of him and a two-legged Wolf behind him. He was wearing a heavy metal breastplate, his lower half concealed by the various sparring groups as he used his sword, shield, and presumably hind legs in expert unison.

Jerik couldn't help it; his mind instantly went to work on ideas on how to work with his mounted training and the 'taur form. It was simply too attractive in its surprise tactics to not consider.

Of course, he didn't know if Rohr could be ridden comfortably, but that was something he'd probably have to find out some time.

Shatrein looked over at one of the older warriors on the field, a grizzled old Bear with salt and pepper fur. She flashed him a few words in some sort of sign language, waiting for a response. He nodded, and she started speaking, moving her hands into precise gestures with fluid motions.

"Duck and cover!" The Bear shouted at the last second. Most of the sparring warriors did the best they could, dropping as a massive fireball shot out from the Wah's hands to explode high above the field. The heat washed over everybody, though the spell was aimed in such a way that nobody would actually be hurt. The Bear marched out into the field, looking at everybody there, picking out the three who'd ducked last, two Siamese Cats who hadn't been paying close enough attention and a Tiger nearby who'd been a little too slow.

"You three are dead," he announced. "Once the Elder's said what she wants to say, you're suiting up in dress plate and reporting to Keldin for reflex training. Attention!"

The warriors were on their feet in an instant, rattling and clanking as they arranged themselves in groups and lines, sheathing their weapons almost as though they were preparing for inspection. It looked like a motley group, not wearing a uniform or armed with matching weapons, but they moved with near-military precision that Jerik could appreciate.

"A new student has arrived for the Academy," Elder Shatrein said easily. "He will need an unpartnered Defender to begin training with. All unpaired students in early adolescence, step forward. The rest of you may return to your studies."

Probably a dozen different warriors did as she said, stepping out of the main group. To judge by the reactions of the Tiger and two Siamese, they were wishing they could be with them, but instead they turned to report for their discipline.

Jerik noticed that both the young Mouse woman and the Rohr were among the group, along with a mix of Dogs, the Wolf who'd been fighting the Rohr, a blue-eyed Vixen, and a Lion whose mane was just coming in, all of them armored to some extent, and definitely armed.

"Any of you that will not be finishing your training within the next five to ten years, return to your training," Elder Shatrein said, two of the older Dogs leaving.

"Apprentice Jerik; I would suggest picking three or four you have a particular interest in before we progress further," she told him. "If you have any questions for the group, ask before choosing."

He nodded silently and closed his eyes, focusing to let the Force guide him. "The Rohr, Mouse and Vixen." He said with a quiet certainty after a long moment.

"The rest of you, back to training," Shatrein said easily. "You'll have better luck with another mage. You three, come along; we're going to go get some lunch."

"Yes Elder," the trio said in near-unison, the Rohr and Mouse removing their helms, the Vixen wearing lighter armor and only needing to pull back her light chain hauberk as they followed Shatrein towards the Guild gates.

"Does anybody have any particular allergies?" Shatrein asked, more for Jerik's benefit than the others. No telling what the kit might react poorly to.

"Not that I've found, ma'am." Jerik answered as the others agreed they were all fine.

"All right then," she nodded. "I'm thinking we'll stop at a small tavern near here," she explained to them. "The four of you get to know each other, and I'll just make sure nothing gets out of hand - including the bill," she chuckled. "Why don't the four of you handle introductions while we walk?" She suggested as they left the grounds.

Jerik nodded and shifted his walk for a couple paces to join the Defenders-in-training. "I'm Jerik Clawson."

"Tomar Farlander," the Rohr said with a friendly nod, easily a foot taller than Jerik already and likely to be twice his height when full grown.

"Lina Stoutstriker," the young Mouse woman grinned up at Jerik, probably a foot and a half shorter than him. Looking between the two of them could get dizzying if he had to do it too often.

"Natalia Isewicha," the silvery Vixen smiled at him, their eyes almost on level. "You aren't from around here, are you?"

"Not even close," Jerik grinned a bit at her.

"Bet there's a story behind that," Tomar chuckled as they entered the tavern, the Golden Hawk according to the sign above the door. It was apparently after any sort of busy hour; there were a handful of young mages chatting and drinking with their Defenders and other friends, close to a half-dozen staves lined up against the wall. It was just then that Jerik noticed that Shatrein was the only mage he'd met so far who didn't carry a staff constantly.

"Always," Jerik winked at him. "I crashed in the Blight after an accidental teleport from another world."

The proprietor, a stout Badger, noted the customers coming in and grabbed a rolled up mat from behind the bar, bringing it out and swapping it for a chair for Tomar.

"If yer in here for lunch, afraid I just have some fresh bread and venison stew left," he explained to Shatrein.

"That sounds fine, thank you Ein," the Wah smiled, taking her seat. "Though I don't suppose I could talk you or your wife into putting some extra potatoes on for us?"

"For you, Elder, with pleasure," he grinned. "A glass of your usual wine?" He asked.

"Yes, thank you," she nodded. "The rest of you? Wine, ale, mead? If you're not used to drinking, I'd recommend the house ale."

"I'll take the mead," Lina offered easily, lifting herself up into her seat with surprising ease given the relative height and her heavy armor.

"The ale, thank you," Tomar said as he settled down on the mat Ein had set out.

"Mead, please." Natalia nodded to him.

"Ale, please," Jerik decided after a silent debate about the idea. Of what he would have chosen by preference, alcohol of any kind wasn't even on the list. In the end though, he decided it was best to go with local standards and save on explanations until he really needed them. He was definitely going to get his hands on one of those endless-cold-water skins that Melinda had, though, and soon.

"Right," the Badger nodded easily, heading off to fill the orders.

"Well, Jerik; are there any questions you want us to answer right away?" Lina asked him from across the table.

"Anyone particularly fond or distrustful of technology?" He glanced around, knowing it was going to become an issue as he grew up.

"Not really," Lina said after a moment to think about it. "'Course, for me, 'technology' includes a stable smithy and windmills and such," she chuckled a little sheepishly. "Those sort of things I'm rather fond of; a lot better than having to do everything by hand when you happen to find a place you can settle down and find your supplies."

"About the same here," Tomar said easily. "I don't think any of us really distrust anything that's meant to make life a bit easier, as long as it's safe. But personally, what I've seen that might make some people distrust it just makes me remember to count on my skills before some fancy piece of gear, be it magic or something else."

"Yeah," Natalia nodded slightly. "It's kind of like magic. We don't really deal with it much."

"All right, let's rephrase that," Jerik chuckled. "Would anyone have reservations about getting in a flying device that could cross the continent in a few hours?"

"Before finding out for sure that it's not going to end up crashed somewhere?" Tomar asked, raising an eyebrow slightly.

"Fact of reality," he focused on him seriously. "Anything that goes up, will come down. No matter what you do, sometimes that coming down is not going to be controlled. On the other hand, I survived without a scratch from loosing my last ship. The next one will have similar safety measures."

"Yeah, but think about what you're asking about," Tomar pointed out. "You're used to that, but you're not going to find a Defender anywhere who won't have some sort of reservation about doing something like that. Willing to do it anyway, but climbing into some sort of flying machine that's supposed to get across the continent in a few hours? For you, that's normal, but for us, that's something that'd usually be called suicide."

"Have to admit," Lina agreed, "if you look at it from never seeing anything like that before, it does sound pretty risky."

Ein brought back a tray with their drinks, setting them down along with a tray of fresh, hot bread and going back for bowls of the stew as Jerik nodded thoughtfully.

"Would you trust your mage to levitate or teleport you?" He decided to go for a more local translation and cursed himself silently for not grasping just how incredible a leap in thinking a jet would be even in a world high in magic. At the same time, their answers saved him a lot of trick questions trying to see if they'd actually point out if he was saying something crazy. "Or a new version of a flight saddle?" He came up with after some mental searching.

"Of course," Tomar said easily. "Though I'd want to make sure the straps on the saddle were real tight," he chuckled, nodding back towards his hind-body with the obvious implication that he'd have to be the one wearing it.

"Sure," Natalia nodded easily. "It's not that uncommon an item."

"Even be willing to help test it out," Lina said, reaching up to start cutting the bread. "Heights are one thing I don't mind, as long as I know how I'm getting down intentionally," she grinned.

"Yeah, but you're the one who walk ledges in full armor," Tomar smirked down at her, sipping his ale as the stew was brought back and passed around.

Elder Shatrein just sipped her wine, eating quietly and watching the four of them, listening and following the conversation.

"So does anyone have hopes for the future, besides being chosen by a mage?" Jerik took a sip of his ale and was pleased to realize it contained very little alcohol. It still tasted pretty bad as far as he was concerned, but at least he wouldn't be drunk half way through the meal. He was definitely going to have to work on the drinks available. Tea, coffee, water, juice and flavored waters shouldn't be too difficult to manage.

Heck, they probably already had them. It was probably just a matter of having something they could store for a lengthy time without it going bad. Juice didn't really keep well, if you couldn't pasteurize it. Alcoholic drinks did a lot better.

"I want to see the world," Natalia smiled at him. "Eventually settle down somewhere nice like here. Mostly I've been focusing on training."

"At this point, I mostly want to do whatever it is that I do well," Lina shrugged slightly. "Youngest of three sisters; have a few things to prove. Be nice to explore the world a bit, but that's usually part and parcel of the job."

"Might want a family some day," Tomar admitted. "Not right away, but eventually, if I find a mate."

"You like pups?" Jerik focused on him.

"Well enough," Tomar nodded easily. "Rohr have a pretty strong family drive," he explained. "Main problem is in finding a mage who won't mind a couple years of downtime if I'm the mother. I could be happy without a family of my own, but I do like pups."

"Enough that kits would be welcome too?"

"Don't see why not," Tomar said, shrugging a bit as he ate. "Family something that's important to you to?"

"Yes," Jerik nodded. "It's not a demand, but not many Clawsons choose to not have a large family. I have seven older siblings from two litters, two littermates, two younger siblings from a fourth litter and another set on the way. Mom'll probably have another before she's too old to. Everyone in the family helps raise us all. I might not be in a position to have so many, but one or two litters are likely once I find a good female and have enough resources to raise them well."

"That's impressive, even for Rohr with two parents having 'em," Tomar chuckled, shaking his head a bit. "At least with most of them surviving. But I really can't see any reason kits would be a problem."

"What about you two?" Jerik shifted his attention to the two females.

"I get along with pups well enough." Natalia said a bit hesitantly. "That sounds like a huge family though."

"Very big family," Lina agreed, clearly having trouble imagining a family with over a dozen kits around. "Never really thought about it that much, honestly. I like kits, but never thought about a family of my own yet, definitely not one that big ...."

"With over two hundred adults to help take care of and train a couple hundred kits, and older kits caring for younger ones, it's not so overwhelming." Jerik smiled fondly. "We've been expanding our territory fast for the last few generations. A lot of kits is part of that."

"It would be," Lina mused. "My people keep on the move all the time; we try not to get too large, because if we do then we've got a hard time pulling up stakes and moving again in a rush."

"It's rare for my kind to have more than two or three kids." Natalia nodded in agreement. "At least that survive long enough to consider taking a mate."

"We haven't been nomads like that in a long time." Jerik nodded thoughtfully. "Any questions for me?"

"Well, do you have any plans for what you'd be doing?" Lina asked him. "I mean ... after you're done training, are you planning on being a village mage somewhere, or doing something more?"

"It kind of depends on whether I take after my inventor, explorer or defender nature most." Jerik chuckled sheepishly. "Odds are I'll start as an explorer and shift to either an inventor or defender of some sort. Those who stick to one their whole lives are usually more focused than I am by my age. Besides, I don't have a village to go home too."

"Not going to try and figure out some way to get back home?" Tomar asked curiously.

"Yes, but without my ship to work out how I got here in the first place, and given the technology level here, it's likely to take decades." Jerik said softly. "To recreate anything close to Ketimaka, I'll have to build the tools to build the tools that can hopefully build the tools to build its parts. That's before you get into the material issues, and that's if I'm lucky. There might be a purely magical way to make the trip, but it'll take decades to get that advanced, and that's assuming I can figure out a way to teleport or gate somewhere I have no reference for where it is relative to here. Most any way I can tell, I'll be here for a long time."

"Sorry," Tomar said, ducking his head slightly to everyone's discomfort. It was a level of orphan none of them could really grasp dealing with so calmly.

"It's okay. You'll find I don't give up easily, but that is the reality of my situation." Jerik smiled softly at him. "I'll never get home if I don't acknowledge that it's not going to be a fast fix and deal with making a life here that might get me home eventually. Besides, there is a reason for everything, including my crashing here. There always is."

"And with translocation magic, there may well be a way to remedy the situation," Shatrein pointed out, the first thing she'd said since the conversation started. "It will take time, but it is possible without inventing several entirely new sciences during your stay on Herath."

Jerik managed not to mention he enjoyed creating new sciences and simply nodded to her in thanks for the information.

"So ... where are you from, if you don't mind me asking?" Lina asked. "I guess I'd just been assuming it was somewhere else around here, some continent that we'd never heard of and you didn't know the way back to."

"No, no habitable world I know of has three moons, and the stars are more different than I can even describe." Jerik shook his head. "My homeworld is called Aristal, that's where my kind are from, but I've spent most of my life on the world of Astraulia Six and on board the colony ship Star Wish."

"Colony ship?" Lina asked, cocking her head slightly as she sipped her relatively small mug of mead. "You mean a ship you're supposed to keep living on?"

"For the time it takes to find a new world to settle," he nodded. "It's not like on a continent, where you can walk or ride to the next spot. It usually takes a few years to find a place and make sure it's safe enough to stay there." He paused as he realized they really didn't have a reference to what he was talking about, given cross-oceanic travel was likely non-existent for the most part. "It's like if you chose to colonize another continent. You have to cross the ocean; something you can't do without a ship and it takes some time. Colonizing space, another world, is the same kind of idea; you have to have a ship to get there, but the distances are much greater. Make any sense?"

"I guess," Tomar nodded.

"Makes sense to me," Lina said. "Hard enough getting around on foot; you'd want something pretty comfortable when you can't just stop and rest when you get tired."

"Yeah," Natalia agreed. "It seems pretty out there though. Your story is going to sound like a myth trying to be real."

"Just wait until I get bored one day and start to play with what is here." He chuckled with a teasing wink. "I've seen enough to build flying toys without any magic."

"Okay, now you're just bragging," Lina smirked. "How would you manage something like that with what you've seen here, that really flies?"

"All I need is a piece of paper." Jerik grinned at her. "And I'll show you."

"That will have to wait until we're back at the Academy," Shatrein chuckled. "Unless one of you three is about to surprise me with what you carry in your training garb."

"Nope," the three shook their heads slightly, amused at the very idea.

"Paper isn't too common except amongst mages," Shatrein explained to Jerik.

"Well, we'll just have to take your word for it for now," Tomar chuckled. "But I've got to agree with Lina, really. That sounds a little far-fetched."

"I could do it with some wood and twine, but that takes a couple hours to carve." Jerik added. "It's a very different toy, but it still flies. But back to the subject ... anyone object to an unarmed sparring match with me?"

"Unarmed, unarmored?" Lina asked matter-of-factly. "I'd be fine with that, just want to make sure."

"Yes, unarmed, unarmored." Jerik nodded.

"I'm game." Natalia nodded.

"Sounds fine to me," Tomar nodded. "Any preference for indoors or out? The Guild has room for both."

"Either works," Jerik nodded easily.

"Well, why don't you four head back and find a place you can get started then, I'll pay for lunch?" Shatrein suggested. "You'll be able to get back easily enough, I'm sure."

"Yes, Elder." The group spoke in near-unison before heading out of the inn and onto the cobblestone streets.

"So, who goes first?" Tomar asked as he stretched out his hind legs.

"How about you, Lina?" Jerik suggested.

"I don't mind, but you might be better off with one of the others first," she pointed out. "Unless you don't mind helping me out of my armor. Just takes a while working on my own."

"I don't mind helping, or I'll tackle Natalia." He let the two girls choose.

"Think I'll let you help her out," Natalia chuckled. "Let's face it; if you pick her, you'll have to get used to it."

"Yeah, but it's worth the trade-off," Lina pointed out with a smirk. "You still can't beat me on the field."

"We'll have to see if I can beat you with it." Jerik grinned deviously. "I haven't had a good sparring challenge in ages."

"If you don't mind bruising your knuckles you can take me as soon as I get on the field," the white Mouse smirked. "Even leave my helmet and gauntlets off."

"We'll see." Jerik grinned. "Match ends when one side surrenders?"

"Works for me," she nodded as they entered the practice field, now mostly empty. "Just something to think about when you're making up your mind; I'm at my best in full armor against at least one armed opponent. Preferably a couple times my size," she winked up at Tomar.

"Good, since that seems to be most of the population." Jerik chuckled and stepped into one of the lightly marked circles on the practice field and relaxed into a loose combat stance. "Ready?"

The Mouse followed him into the circle, pausing to set her helm down along with the gauntlets hanging from her belt. She stood, bringing her arms up in something resembling a boxing stance that had the effect of pulling her armored shoulders up to give some extra defense to her bare head.

Tomar and Natalia waited nearby, resting and keeping a close eye on Jerik's technique.

"Ready," she agreed, her eyes glittering as she looked up at him across the distance. She had a half a heartbeat to gauge his approach as he darted in, using his natural speed to well-trained effect. The distance disappeared and he made a sharp shift in his posture to put his weight on his hands as his long legs shot out to trip her.

Lina dropped to her knees, dropping an arm to help absorb the force of his kick as his booted feet slammed into the thick steel plates covering her. She grabbed for his leg with her free hand, but he kicked back off of her and out of reach quickly. He was glad for his boots; they helped to absorb some of the impact when she did something like that.

She stood and dropped back into a defensive stance, shifting to face Jerik as he circled her, looking for an opening. She saw a hint of real respect for her skill in his eyes in the moment they met.

It took her a bit of effort to shift her mindset into looking for openings of her own, but she spotted one. With a move that was lumbering compared to Jerik's own, but surprisingly spry for anybody wearing a suit of plate mail, Lina closed the distance between them, bringing her arm up like a battering ram at knee level.

It would have been a crippling blow if he was any slower, but Jerik saw her move and leapt up at the last moment to avoid her and came down on her head from a couple feet above. She crumpled beneath him, slightly stunned and flattened by the impact, but rolled to her side, clanking loudly as she twisted to knock him off his own feet, swinging her arm to keep him from jumping clear easily.

It worked; the lean tom hit the dirt with a thump and rolled to his feet just out of her reach. Without hesitation, Jerik moved forward, closing with her to pin her to the ground. Lina managed to roll to her knees, lowering her head and ramming it into his stomach as he closed on her. It wasn't a particularly hard hit; she hadn't had time to put any real speed behind it, but he definitely felt it even without her helm on.

It also gave him the range to catch her wrists and put his own mass and strength behind pushing her to her back. He wasn't surprised when she twisted into the push, rolling to land on top of him heavily.

What was more surprising, to Lina at least, was when he kicked up into a backflip that carried not only his weight, but the hundred plus pounds of Mouse and armor up over his head to slam back down on the ground beneath him with a low groan.

That was clearly not something she'd been expecting him to pull off, though the grin on his face as he looked down at her said that he had, and was pleased that he was right.

"Ready to surrender?" Jerik offered.

Despite having her wrists and legs both pinned, he could tell she was still perfectly willing to keep going; she was just trying to figure out what was left that she could do without breaking the informal rules of the match.

"Not just yet," she informed him, wriggling her tail out from beneath her and snapping the tip of the naked length up against the inside of his thigh, trying to get a little wriggle room for her leg.

She got a growl for it, but he refused to let pain distract him from his task and retaliated with a lightning fast snap of his head to close his sharp teeth around her exposed neck.

She stilled, sharp points against her windpipe and jugular. She could feel the tension, both from Jerik above her and from the others watching nearby, waiting for Jerik to give her enough breathing room to concede. It was only a moment in coming, he was in control of himself. She still felt his teeth, but the pressure was gone now that she wasn't fighting.

"I yield," she said, no fear in her voice as she did so, and only a hint of it in her scent.

It brought instant results. His teeth were gone and he twisted to his feet to offer her a hand up. "You're good, Lina."

"Thank you," she said, standing with his help. "You are too; most people couldn't manage to get me over them like that. Sorry about the tail snap, but I was still running through my options."

"Hey, it's a legitimate tactic." Jerik grinned at her as they walked out of the ring and noticed the old Bear was watching them from a distance. "If my tail was strong enough to do that, it'd definitely be in my book. You're going to be a real terror when you get out there. You think on your feet."

"Just make sure you watch your aim with it while you're in training," the Bear chuckled as he approached them.

"Yes, Sir Arthus," Lina said, ducking her head with a slight blush. "And thanks again Jerik; even if you pick one of the others, I might try looking you up for sparring practice."

"Be glad to," Jerik nodded. "I haven't done nearly enough sparring with heavily armored targets."

"You'll have plenty of chance to practice around here," Arthus chuckled. "Though Lina's one of the best for her age and technique."

"Thank you, Sir," she smiled up at him, her respect for the Bear clear.

"Go suit down while Jerik gets ready for his next match," he said easily. Lina moved off a bit to do so, gradually stripping down to the light chain-and-leather beneath her plate mail. "Need a bit of a rest first?"

"I'm good to go, sir." Jerik told him seriously, and then looked at Tomar and Natalia. "Who's next?"

"I'll go," Tomar volunteered easily, stepping forward, his own armor already removed for the match, just wearing a loincloth over his well-muscled Rohr body as he entered the circle with Jerik on the far side. It didn't take him any time to be sure that the tom had no idea how to fight him, and that it wasn't about to let it stop him from trying.

Tomar, for his part, had a slightly better idea what he was up against, having watched Jerik and Lina intently. Even so, he was willing to let Jerik make the first move for now. A few moments to show that Jerik wasn't going to make the first move this time, and Tomar started across the ring, springing forward with the full power of his strong hind legs.

He watched Jerik watch him move, the much smaller feline gauging his maneuverability and strength and how best to defeat it. The Rohr landed in front of him, shifting to move to the side before making a backhand swing for Jerik only to find the feline gone.

He howled more in surprise than pain as sharp claws raked his underside. Even as he leapt to the side to get out of the way he felt the claws hit the tendons of his right rear leg. Not enough to do real damage, but a solid hit that any honorable opponent would acknowledge the limiting affects of. The tom was clearly taking him a lot more seriously than he had Lina.

Lifting the leg slightly, both to help reflect the 'damage' and to favor it, he shifted his weight to his front legs and kicked off with his left hind leg, spinning himself around to face Jerik. Once his hind body had landed, he swung at Jerik, bringing his opposite foreleg up to try and force the tom into one of the blows.

It didn't work, but this time he saw the second half of the tom's dive under him, just before those claws drove into his softer belly again.

This time, Tomar had a clear way to react to him. The Rohr let his legs drop out from under him, dropping his entire lower body on the smaller feline beneath him, pivoting his upper chest around to grab for Jerik's hands before he could start clawing at his sides.

Even as he caught one, he knew something was very wrong. A burst of power threw him up and over a dozen feet, Jerik dragged along by the wrist. The tom used the surprise to twist free and leap back.

"I cede, Tomar." Jerik bowed to him as he stood up, more than a little embarrassed by his reaction.

"What the heck was that?" Tomar asked, his eyes wide as he worked himself around to his feet.

"Telekinetic shove." Jerik explained bashfully. "It's one of the first skills I learned, and it's what I tend to use when I panic. I can help with those scratches a bit, if you'd like." He offered apologetically.

"They'll be okay," Tomar said, shaking his head. "Was it getting squished, or me grabbing your arm?"

"Getting squished," he chuckled weakly and walked up to the Rohr to shake hands. "I really wasn't expecting that."

"Only way to catch you it seemed," Tomar chuckled a bit, shaking Jerik's hand.

"You both did fairly well," Sir Arthus said as Tomar walked off, trying to hide the slight limp from his hind leg. "And Tomar, make sure you get that looked at in the infirmary. You've got to learn to move all your feet a bit faster yet."

"Nimble and Rohr don't usually get along that well, Sir," Tomar pointed out. "But I'll work on it."

"Good," Arthus nodded. "And Jerik; you don't know it yet, but we usually try not to draw blood during sparring matches. Something to keep in mind, and I didn't mention anything earlier because I know you weren't going to seriously hurt Tomar."

"I understand, Arthus." Jerik inclined his head. "I was trained to do no more damage than I could fix. I will keep my claws sheathed now."

"Healing isn't as common around here as it is in some places," the Bear explained. "If you have some skill in it, that'll serve you well. You'll probably see a lot of Defenders turning it down though, at the Guild," he chuckled as Tomar went off to see the medics. "We tend to pride ourselves on being as self-sufficient as we can be. He'll get more pragmatic about it with age."

"Most do." Jerik nodded and shifted his attention to Natalia.

"Umm, if you don't mind, you are out of my league." She shook her head.

"All right." He nodded in acceptance and looked around for Shatrein. The old Wah was near the entrance, and approached once it became clear that the sparring was over.

"Well, you certainly have a warrior's skills," she observed.

"My family are warrior-mages by tradition." He bowed to her. "I have chosen my Guardian. Tomar will do well as my partner."

"I will let him know," Arthus nodded. "When Elder Shatrein gives word of your quarters, I'll have him move in with you, unless there's some reason for alternate arrangements?" He asked, looking between Jerik and Shatrein.

"None that I am aware of," Shatrein said easily.

"No, sir." Jerik agreed, privately pleased that they'd be roommates.

"Well, we'll go find you a room and I'll let you get settled in for today then," Shatrein said easily. "We'll sort your classes out later, hmm?"

"Sounds good, ma'am." Jerik nodded and followed her back through the teleport gate and into the Academy towers. He couldn't help but notice that they had returned at the top of a different tower entirely.

"Mages and their Defenders typically have a room to themselves," Shatrein explained, leaving her rooms and stepped off the stairs of the main tower with a short, clipped spell that let her float down with ease, descending to the second floor where she reached out to grab a support pillar and pull herself onto the landing. A moment later there was a heavy thud as Jerik landed next to her, having made the distance in a single leap, the landing cushioned by a bit of Force.

"You'll have a room through here," she explained, not at all surprised by his jump of seven floors as she turned to indicate a door with a large symbol on it. "That is the symbol for the Transmutation school," she explained. "You don't have to stay in that field, but it's more convenient to live in the portion of the tower reserved for your first school of study. Easier to track." She traced the symbol, speaking a few words, and stepped aside.

"Press your palm to the door," she told him. "It will recognize you after that."

He nodded and pressed his palm to it. It wasn't all that different than the palm-scanners on the ship. It worked just like one, it seemed. The door faded, revealing a long corridor with several doors along the walls with names on them.

"Would you prefer a room closer to the exit, or the end of the hall?" Shatrein asked easily.

"Umm, the end. One with a window, please."

"Easily arranged," she nodded. "Open to the east, or west?" She asked, leading him down the hallway. "Just as a note, if there are any changes that you want made to the room after you and Tomar get settled in, just make a request to one of the teachers, they'll make the arrangements for the advanced transmutationists to do the work."

"Yes, ma'am." He murmured, a little stunned that it was that easy here, and chocked up a point for traditional magic, at least as an organization. He turned his attention to whether he wanted the sun in the morning or evening. "To the east, please." He wanted to see the sunsets, and a few days able to pay attention had confirmed that was the right direction here.

"Would this room work well enough?" She asked him, stopping and turning to face a clear door, turning the knob to open it and revealing a fairly spacious pair of rooms.

He did a quick inspection, though it was already far more than he'd expected for a new apprentice. The room the door opened into was set up with two desks, a small round table, a couple plush chairs and bookshelves. The room next to it was finished with a nice-sized bed and a mat next to it, another pair of small tables with matching chairs and a couple plush chairs to sit in.

"It is very nice." He nodded to her. "Where do we clean up and relieve ourselves?"

"At the end of the hall, there is one door that leads to the outhouses, and another that leads to the local bathhouse," she explained. "Meals can be brought to your room, and if you want to eat outside the Academy or make purchases, you have a weekly stipend to spend as you wish. If you need more funding, you'll need to justify it, but can request additional money."

Jerik nodded. "Is the stipend for things like clothing, paper and other basic supplies as well as those things?"

"Basic supplies the Academy provides," she said easily. "Though if you want clothing beyond the basics, you'll be expected to pay for that yourself. Go on in and look around," she said easily. "You should have your basics available in the dresser."

He nodded again and began a more complete examination of the rooms; every drawer was opened and checked out, the bed looked under. He found several changes of simple clothes that, somehow, he knew would fit him. Writing utensils, paper sheets ... even a thick book made of sturdy leather and paper that he was fairly sure was a beginner's spellbook.

With a rumble of approval he moved on to the large window in the living room and grinned widely when he realized it was actually double glass doors with a small balcony outside.

"Ohhh, nice." He grinned and looked out over the compounds near the outer wall of the Academy and beyond.

"After your first three years with the Academy, you can move elsewhere in the city," Shatrein explained. "We'll have to set up a spellgate, of course, but it's a fairly simple matter. If you need things brought to your room, ring the blue rope to summon a Servant; they can follow any relatively simple orders you give them."

"I understand, Elder." He bowed his head, then grinned at Tomar when he spotted the Rohr with a sizable bag over his wolf-body come in.

"Wow," Tomar grinned, looking around at the room. "And here I thought the only reason folks were eager to find mages was because they wanted to be sure they had a partner!"

"I'll see the two of you around," Elder Shatrein chuckled. "Jerik, you'll be contacted later about your first class. Have a good night, the two of you."

"Thank you, Elder," Tomar said easily, eager to get settled in.

"Thank you, Elder." Jerik bowed to her and then turned to his partner after she shut the door. "You should see the bedroom. It already has a mat set out for you and more windows."

"Well, I have to get unpacked, so we might as well go there next," the Rohr grinned, heading in. "This is so much more room than we get in the barracks."

"It's a lot more than I'm used to too." Jerik agreed and walked into the pleasantly large bedroom and helped Tomar get the pack off. "My stuff is already in that one," he motioned to the dresser-drawers on the far side of the room, past the bed.

"Then I'll set up on this side," Tomar nodded easily, opening his pack, starting to pull out a some things that couldn't possibly fit inside of it.

"Pack of holding; seems it's standard issue once you get a partner," he explained with a chuckle, pulling out a stand for his armor and setting it up. "Holds just about anything you can get in through the top."

"Damn, we never thought of that. We've done it to all sorts of things, but never a bag." Jerik chuckled and sat down on the bed to watch. "How are the scratches?"

"They say they'll be fine," Tomar reassured him. "You said you could help with healing 'em?" He asked, just a little sheepishly as he pulled out a sheathed sword and light spear, leaning them up in the corner along with his armor.

"Yes," he nodded but didn't get up. "I forgot to ask about the sparing rules here. I'm used to the 'don't do damage you can't undo,' not 'do not drawing blood' varient. Would you like them healed now?"

"Yes, please," Tomar said easily. "Normally I wouldn't worry about it, but I'd like to make real sure those don't manage to scar."

"They won't." He promised softly and hopped down. "Why don't you lay down and I'll see about those."

"All right," Tomar nodded and lay down on his side on the mat. "Just a little warning, scars along the belly aren't something you want your partner to have made," he explained. "Usually shows a short temper and lack of control."

"Ah," he nodded and first soothed the Force to take away the pain. "I was about to ask that. Do you feel them now?"

"No," Tomar said honestly. "Are you actually a Healer on top of everything else too?" He asked with a bit of a chuckle.

"Not even close," Jerik looked at him sheepishly. "My magical healing skills are pretty pathetic, really. But I can usually soothe the pain. The rest of the healing is more traditional." He pulled out a small package from his belt and tore it open, revealing several pieces of cloth and small bottles of creams and liquids.

"Hey, nothing to be ashamed of," Tomar said easily, trying to watch what Jerik was doing. "My Mother isn't even a real good Healer, and she's shaman for the whole tribe."

Jerik looked up, pausing as his over-stimulated brain finally put two and two together. "Is your mother is Jenra, of the Whistling Wind village?"

"You've met her?" Tomar asked curiously. "Small world, huh?" He chuckled.

"Yeah, the village is on the way between the Blight and here, and we needed supplies." Jerik nodded and began to carefully clean the shallow scratches he'd made earlier with pure alcohol, Tomar biting back the wince he wanted to make, then dried them and went to work with a bit of surgical skin glue and healing cream.

"Did you meet my Father too?" Tomar asked him, trying to ignore the unusual sensations.

"Yes, he's quite grumpy about being stuck in the house, but the pups seem to be doing well." He nodded easily as he worked. "Sorry I didn't warn you about that feeling."

"Hey, it's still better than the mudpacks I used when I was a kit," Tomar pointed out. "And good to hear. I wrote not too long ago, but delivery's not exactly fast or reliable around here."

"It hadn't arrived when we passed though." Jerik commented and put his medical kit away. "Do you know your way around the area?"

"Not too surprised; I didn't sent it all that long ago," Tomar said with a bit of a shrug. "And yeah, well enough. I was given a quick run down on things when they showed me the way here."

"Good," Jerik nodded and stood. "Any interest in a bath? I haven't been clean in weeks."

"Sounds good to me," Tomar chuckled. "Want somebody there to help you wash your back?"

"I'm not about to complain." Jerik grinned and pulled out a set of local clothing. "I bet you have some spots that are a pain to reach too."

"Oh yeah," the Rohr grinned. "About twice as much back I just can't get at, and worse on my belly. I just hope the gate comes out in the changing room, so we don't have to undress before going through it."

"Given it's down the hall, I expect it does." Jerik nodded and headed out. "Either way, I need a bath bad."

"Here's hoping," Tomar nodded, following him out and down to the door that opened easily to their attempt to reveal a small changing room with simple drawings above each of the chests along the wall.

"Pick somewhere to keep your stuff and remember the drawing above it," Tomar explained, stepping in and removing his few clothes easily to stow them. "You'll probably learn to make a mage-mark soon enough, but those of us who aren't mages just count on the alarm spells and drawings."

"I take it you've used this place before." Jerik nodded and quickly stripped down his much more complicated dress and stowed it in a chest with a red sun on it.

"Most anybody who's been in town for any real length of time has," Tomar said easily, stretching out from his female hind body to the tips of his fingers. "One of 'em anyways, they all use about the same system. Some of the older guys talk about one that's ... well, it's got a little broader range of services it offers. But that's mostly barracks talk; haven't seen anything like that around here.

"Probably because they don't think you're old enough." Jerik observed.

"Come on, let's go get cleaned up," Tomar concluded, turning towards the warm door opposite the entrance. "You're not the only one who needs a bath."

"Mmm, yes." Jerik rumbled as he breathed deeply of the moisture laden air. The two of them walked into the bathing room, a fairly deep pool of hot, steaming water waiting, several people already waiting around and relaxing inside.

Jerik was in the water as quickly as he could make it seemly, a deep groan of pleasure rumbling out as the warmth and water worked down to his skin. "Oh, it has been too long."

"Like the water, huh?" Tomar asked, turning around and backing in before turning to leave his hind-body up against the wall as he 'sat' in the water to lower his hind-body into it.

"Very much." He sighed in utter contentment, his eyes mostly closed as he simply enjoyed the sensations for a time and let the slowly flowing hot water wash away the worst of his travel and battle grime.

"Y'want some help washing up, or just to soak for a while?" Tomar asked him, leaning up against the side as his own muscles slowly unwound.

"Just soak," Jerik grinned up at him. "You seem to be enjoying it too, and we aren't expected to be anywhere for a while."

"Yeah, take advantage of it while we can," Tomar chuckled. "And of course I am. I've just spent the last six hours before lunch sparring and working out."

A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 2: Entering the Academy

Het Level is Low
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

67 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written December 4, 2005 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Herath, Star Wars (Furry)

Primary Races: Canine, Feline, Fox, Kat, Rohr (Herm Wolftaur), Wah (Red Panda)

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F).

Pairings: Melinda/Connor

Notes: A 'Wah' is a Red Panda morph.

Blurb: Jerik finds a new home, a partner and a way he thinks he can get along with on this alien but familiar world.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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