A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9:
Swells of Darkness

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for Female Masturbation
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Jerik stood in front of a large, full-length mirror in his quarters. He'd finally mastered the first circle self-transformation spell well enough that he could used it without a Mage around to undo it. As open as he tended to be, there were some things he didn't care to try in public, and this was one of them.

He focused, trying not to analyze how different this use of energy was from what he'd been trained in before.

These days, though, six months after coming here, the language of magic flowed smoothly off his tongue and he felt the cosmetic changes the spell could accomplish begin to take effect.

His hair was first, lengthening with a bit more of a wave than usual for him until it reached half way down his back.

His fur came next, shortening until it was the sleek, silky coat of a Siamese, but keeping with his natural markings.

He actually glanced over his shoulder before he began working the rest of the idea into place. Subtle shifts in his face, hips, a much fuller tail. Then his breasts grew into soft mounds the size of his cupped hand.

When he looked down his body in the mirror, only his knowledge was any hint he was a tom.

It was enough to get his curiosity going to slid a hand between his legs, just to feel what a shekat was like. Under his fingers it was smooth and velvety soft, and the light touch sent a shudder through him. It wasn't just the sensitivity of the flesh under his fingers; it was a bit of the forbidden too. He hadn't been told that doing anything like this was against any rules, but it seemed taboo enough to have the effect on him.

He glanced out the window, noting his partner wouldn't be back for a while yet, and decided that exploring this form was worth a bit of time in bed.

He adjusted the mirror slightly, so he could watch himself as he explored 'herself,' and climbed onto bed. He started with his breasts, squeezing and playing his fingers along the mounds, around his larger nipples, finding what felt good and what didn't, and understanding for the first time what his second father had mentioned during his sexual education about watching can sometimes be as good as doing.

He shifted, spreading his legs further apart and lifting his knees as he slid a hand between them again. His eyes stayed on the mirror, enjoying the show as much as the feel of it as he spread the lips of his pussy and slid a finger along the entire slit, his fur wet from his female juices as he teased his clit ... though it felt no different from playing with a very small cock at the moment.

It was enough to draw a small whimper from his throat when his hips rocked up against his fingers.

He vaguely thought he'd heard something, but decided that it was just the slight differences between his regular voice and the female one. He wasn't in complete control over what he was saying, or doing, at the moment after all. But damn it felt incredibly good.

"Y'want some help with that?" Quasma asked from the door of the bedroom, giggling a bit as Tomar tried to decide between hustling her back out of the room and quietly burying his head under some of the many pillows that littered the main room.

Despite how frantic the back of his mind was to stop, cover up and somehow get that hungry grin off her face, his body had definite ideas to the contrary. He barely had time to gasp in surprise at their presence before his vision went swimmy and he roared, completely taken over by the rush of pleasure that ran up his spine and completely took over.

Quasma pouted playfully as Jerik relaxed and the spell started to fade. He reached down along the side of the bed to pick up the edge of the blanket and fold it over him as he shifted back to being a him.

"Figured out how to make that first shapeshifting spell work reliably, huh?" the Lynx asked, still grinning and clearly amused by how bright he was under his rusty red fur.

"Yes," he managed to stammer, not really able to not look at her except for a glance at his partner who was blushing even more than he was and at an utter loss for what to say.

"You're a cute girl," Quasma observed, moving around to the side of the bed and kissing him lightly on the cheek. "Want me to head out so you can get dressed?"

"Yes," he managed to nod. "Why are you here too?" He glanced between her and his partner.

"We were gonna invite you to dinner," she giggled, turning to head out of the room. "Unless you want to be alone for a while again."

"I-I'm fine." Jerik managed and slid from the bed when her back was turned and gave Tomar an apologetic look. He licked his sticky fingers clean before gathering his clothes and dressing quickly.

"Y'might want to use a refresher cantrip," Quasma reminded him, leaning her back against the wall between the room she was in and the bedroom. "It's a little noticeable, not that it's a bad smell by any means."

"Useful thing," Jerik mumbled with a nod and cast the cantrip with barely a thought. He already knew for sure that spell magic had significant advantages over Jedi ways, but not in all ways. He glanced at Tomar. "Presentable again?"

"Yeah," the Rohr nodded, still blushing a bit. "Sorry we walked in on you, but you didn't answer the chime so I figured you weren't back yet ...."

"It's okay, Tomar." Jerik reached out to squeeze his upper shoulder. "I could have locked the bedroom door if I'd thought about it. It's not like you haven't seen me naked before."

"Lucky him." Quasma teased, earning blushes from both the males.

"It was her idea to come watch," Tomar added sheepishly, blushing deeper as he ducked his head.

"Mmm ... your roomie's a sweetie, but doesn't convince people near as fast as he needs to to keep 'em from watching," Quasma teased again.

"So was there anything besides dinner in the plan before you opened the door?" Jerik rolled his eyes. "There is much better porn to watch than me if you really want to."

"Maybe, but it doesn't turn that pretty shade of pink," the Lynx giggled. "And it's a little pricy for our allowance just now. At any rate, mostly dinner. Tim went ahead to get us a table at the Red Griffin; he likes the food there better than at Ein's. Remys wanted to talk to us about something too, so he'll be meeting us there."

"Sounds good." Jerik nodded and opened the door. "We haven't gone out in a while."

"Yeah," Tomar nodded, following the two mages out. "And Remys was looking pretty wiped out, when I saw him. Think he's studying too hard."

"Kennara should take him a little more in hand if he is." Jerik shook his head. "Sometimes I think she's too submissive for him."

"Yeah, but she's had her own problems to deal with lately," Tomar pointed out. "You remember that group of Lizards that came through a couple weeks back?"

"Yeah?" Quasma asked as they left the Academy grounds and headed towards the inn.

"She's been complaining about them hounding her, but there's nothing much that can be done about it, officially. The Defenders have asked them to leave her be, but they're not actually interfering with anything, just going on about some prophecy or another." The Rohr rolled his eyes as one of the aforementioned Lizards in dark robes crossed the street ahead of them, going to speak to one of the merchants.

"Maybe it's time they find out it's not good to hunt the friend of a mage." Jerik cast his mind towards the Lizard, seeing what was at the top of his thoughts and finding them distinctly focused on the bread and cheese he was purchasing. "We can make their lives seriously miserable without breaking any rules too."

"Yeah, but they are Remys' countrymen," Tomar pointed out a little dubiously. "Maybe we can talk to him about talking to them, he might be able to get 'em to lay off better than the Defenders can?"

"If not, we can make them as miserable as they're making her." Jerik nodded. "It's not right to leave it like this."

"That's for sure," Quasma nodded. "And it's not just Kennara they're bugging. They've been trying to talk their way into our archives for some reason. No mages with them though, so the Mages have been turning 'em down. This is just what happens when you combine religious fanatics with the Blight, I guess," she mused as they approached the Red Griffin.

"These guys willing to talk about what they want?" Jerik focused on her, his mind at work on things far beyond just protecting those around him.

"I'm not that up on what's going on in the archives yet," she pointed out. "All I know is that the mages are griping about them wanting access to historical records left over from the Great War. Nothing damaging, but I think that 'they're not mages' became 'and they're irritating the Hell out of us' about a week after they got here."

He nodded to her and sat down at the table her Rottweiler Defender had secured with Remys.

"Hi," Jerik nodded at the pair, pleased that the drinks were already set out, including his current favorite. "You've been paying attention." He grinned at the Canid and lifted his nearly alcohol-free ginger ale.

"Hey, we're the two who keep ordering the stuff," Tim grinned, lifting his own, somewhat harsher, ginger beer and sipping it. "Most regularly, at least."

"If the stuff didn't burn like dragonfire on the way down, maybe the rest of us would too," Quasma chuckled. "How're you doing, Remys?" She asked the Gila Monster, sitting down between him and Tim.

"Exhausted," he admitted. "You guys?"

"Pretty good," Jerik nodded. "What's going on?" He asked more softly, his protective manner towards his classmate unmistakable.

"Haven't been able to sleep for a couple days now," Remys admitted. "Some damned fool around the Necropolis playing a whistle or something every night, but nobody else seems to be hearing it."

"Have you tried a silence spell against it?" Jerik asked curiously, trying to run down the obvious reasons and blocks.

"Silence spells, a filter spell - doesn't seem to do anything. The mages figure that I must be hearing things or dreaming it up."

"Is it every night?"

"For the past few nights," the dark-scaled Gila Monster nodded, pausing as their meals arrived and he started in on the thick, spicy steak he'd been given. "Kennara doesn't hear it either; I'm not sure if I really am dreaming it, or if it's something magical. I'd like to lean towards the latter, especially since it feels like it's calling to me somehow."

"Would you like me to spend the night, see if I can detect it?" Jerik offered between bites of his own steak. "I can sense things in a different way than most here."

"If you could, I'd appreciate it," Remys admitted. "At least then I'll know if it's just in my head."

"Tonight then," Jerik nodded. "Now ... do you have any idea what the newcomers are bugging your Defender about?"

"Kennara hasn't told me anything about what they're saying, and they've been talking to her when I'm not around," Remys said, shaking his head. "I'll try to have a word with them though; they've been avoiding me, I think."

"If they don't knock it off, we were thinking of making their life miserable in return." Jerik smiled dangerously. "Three apprentices can do an amazing amount without breaking the rules. I do want to know what they're up to, though. There might be something to it we should prepare for."

"I'll see if I can talk them into knocking it off," Remys promised. "And if they don't ...." He chuckled a bit. "Heck, you don't even need three when one of them knows the ways to really make things miserable for them."

"Oh?" Jerik's eyes glittered in curiosity.

"Professional secret," Remys chuckled. "But they've got a few beliefs that, if I have to, I could exploit a bit. My clutch-mother was a member before the Plague hit," he explained. "They've got their taboos and rules, same as any other group."

Jerik nodded in acceptance of the withheld information. "Sounds like we have a plan to deal with both problems."

"Here's hoping," the Gila Monster nodded. "Are you going to stay over on your own, or with your Defender?" He asked, nodding towards Tomar.

Jerik glanced at the Rohr, clearing giving him the choice. "I'll be meditating all night."

"Unless you're going to go chasing after anything you sense, I'll probably stay around our quarters, make sure nothing goes screwy," Tomar offered. "And keep from taking up half the space there is," he chuckled.

"I'll get you before we go after anything." Jerik promised. "You two as well," he nodded towards Quasma and Tim. "Hopefully a full mage will take this seriously enough that we don't have to handle it ourselves."

"If you can pick something up beyond what I'm hearing, there's a good chance of it," Remys nodded hopefully. "Well, now that that's out of the way, let's enjoy dinner, hmm?"

"Definitely," Jerik nodded and happily let small talk take over the rest of the meal.

Remys opened the door to his quarters just before curfew that night to see Jerik waiting on the other side, a large square pillow in hand.

"Hurry in," the reptile said, stepping back. "They're a little touchy about curfew in this wing, don't want anybody sneaking out for late night experiments."

"Right," the tom nodded and slipped inside for the door to close before curfew. "If I can meditate in the room you sleep in, it would be best."

"No problem; we've set the beds up for bunks," Kennara said, the Arctic Fox coming out of the bedroom to greet Jerik. "You've got plenty of space. Are you going to need anything?"

"I brought all I'll need," he indicated the pillow. "Are you ready to head to bed?"

"Unless there's anything that needs to be set up ahead of time," Remys agreed and lead them into the bedroom. "I don't know if you want to keep other magic from interfering with whatever you're sensing."

"Only if it becomes necessary," he shook his head and found a spot in front of the window to put his pillow down and settled on it. "They tend to interfere with my abilities as well."

"No problem," Remys nodded. "Good luck hearing it; we should have an hour or two before it starts up."

"More than long enough to get used to the local patterns," Jerik nodded and let out a deep breath as he settled into a guardian meditation, his attention spreading out to wrap around those he guarded and keyed in on any changes in the environment.

It was a little unsettling, feeling the dark energy gathered in the Necropolis nearby. He hadn't looked out of the relatively small window in the room, but he was sure that this wing overlooked it. Creepy as all fuck, he decided. He was also incredibly glad he wasn't in this wing.

Kennara and Remys quickly undressed and changed, climbing into their bunks while Jay settled his attention into the local Force, feeling it stilling somewhat as students started going to sleep.

Only a few were still awake when he felt the Darkness begin to stir and sharpened his attention to it. Something was certainly going on.

He felt it ... smelled it. The scent of death filled his nostrils, and he felt a chill run up and down his spine from the base of his skull to the tip of his tail.

To judge by Remys' rolling over and pulling the pillow over his head, this was the whistle. Jerik couldn't hear it either, but he knew that something was wrong.

Very wrong.

Then, almost as soon as he'd felt it, it passed.

"Remys!" Jerik bolted to his feet and spun around to face the Gila Monster in bed. "Get up. You are so not imagining things."

"What is it?" He asked, slipping his head from beneath the pillow. Just then, Jerik felt the dark energy welling up again, and Remys winced sharply. "Damn it, it's like it's going straight through me!" He snarled quietly, Kennara still at least mostly asleep.

"I don't know why it's only affecting you, but this is serious. Who's in charge of the Necromantic school?" Jerik didn't bother to hide his distress. "Something very, very wrong is going on."

"Elder Krayl, but he's out on a research trip," the Gila Monster said, shaking his head as the energy died away, not getting nearly as strong as it had the first time. "Duty-mage? We leave the room, she'll be on us like a hawk, get her attention fast."

"Good," he nodded as the pair got dressed. "Elder Shatrein or Kora might listen to us. I'd rather not face that with just us."

"What is 'that'?" Remys asked him again. "Can you tell? Whatever it is, it's freaking you out."

"It's pure evil." He shivered. "The dead brought back. I've never felt the Dark so strongly. I don't know any more. It's probably a device being used, or someone who's shielding is faltering. If it was still active and unshielded, I could still detect it."

"Good thing I had the day off then," Remys mused, hurrying to his dresser and pulling a sheet of paper covered with runes out, stuffing it into the pocket of his robe while Jerik woke Kennara up. The Vixen groaned, but quickly climbed down from bed and started to pull her armor and such on out of reflex as much as knowing it would be needed.

"Let's go. The duty mage will catch up with us." Jerik took charge even as he sent out two whisper spells to call the others and opened the door.

Remys followed him out, just a few moments ahead of Kennara, her light chain shirt pulled on along with a boiled leather skirt, not much else besides her sword at her hip before she woke up enough to ask just what they were doing.

"What's going on?" She asked Remys quietly.

"I wasn't imagining things," he said quietly as an older mage hurried down the hall towards them, a female Skunk in dark robes with a blackwood staff in hand clicking down the hall.

"What are you three doing out of quarters at this hour?" She demanded of them. "And Apprentice Jerik, why are you even in this wing?"

"I was helping a friend, Mage." He nodded towards Remys. "He wasn't imagining the whistle. Something is bringing back the dead, or trying pretty hard, and they're not doing it the right way."

"How can you tell that?" The mage asked him, sounding somewhat exasperated, though concerned all the same.

"When meditating, I can trace the flow and type of energy in an area. There was a swell of Dark energy at the same time that Remys heard the whistle, and I could even smell the dead waking up." He told her seriously, his fear mostly under control. "It is a very bad thing."

"If you are right, then it is," she agreed. "Also one that apprentices should not be investigating themselves. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, apprentices, but return to your quarters. I will contact the Death-watchers and we will investigate."

"I hope they do," Jerik murmured quietly, not at all convinced it was going to happen given what he knew. "Let me know if that continues, okay?" He turned to Remys.

"Will do," the young necromancer sighed, opening the door to his room. "Hope you don't get in trouble for being out late, but I think Mage Kella meant you should go back to your quarters."

"I know, and I will." He nodded and half turned away. "I'll see you in the morning."

"Ready?" Jerik asked his partner, both dressed for trouble in their personal versions of armor and best weapons the next afternoon.

"Ready," Tomar nodded. "Think this might be a little much to carry in with us though? I mean, it's not like we're on ghoul-hunting detail. The Watchers might be a little hesitant."

"Given how poorly they've done their job recently, I don't trust them to get anything right." The young tom growled softly before he got himself under control. "You don't need to bring anything you think is overkill, Tomar." He said seriously. "I just happen to like overkill."

"Jerik, the Watchers have usually done their job pretty well," Tomar pointed out as they left their room. "We don't even know what's going on ... heck, it could be somebody teleporting in and out, based on how fast they must've moved not to get caught last night. Not too much they can do about that sorta thing. At any rate; if they ask, what do we tell them about why we're here?"

"The truth," he shrugged slightly. "We're hunting something that apparently only I can sense. Ignoring a warning from a Necromancer is hardly doing their job."

"Okay," Tomar said, not willing to argue with Jerik about the quality of that warning just now. He wasn't completely sure what the tom was thinking could have been done, but now wasn't the time to figure it out. The short walk to the Necropolis was in silence, and the Rohr couldn't help but notice that his mage became more and more calm as they got close to actually doing something.

He had to admit, it was a reaction he could relate to. Hurry up and wait was never easy to deal with.

Jerik's unusual appearance, in his flight suit and Glovatrix, garnered them a few looks from passersby. When they reached the gate of the Necropolis, the Watchers looked at them, one a lean Jackal in light armor, sword and mace at her hip, the other a Bloodhound fem who at least looked to be a mage.

"What are the two of you coming here to do?" The Bloodhound asked them.

"To hut something that no one else can seem to sense," Jerik answered politely.

"Is this connected to the report we had last night of somebody in the Necropolis raising the dead?" The Jackal asked, looking Jerik and Tomar over critically.

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded seriously. "It was enough of a surge it should leave traces even now that it isn't being used anymore."

"So you think this is some sort of item now?" The Bloodhound asked him. "The mage who contacted us last night wasn't certain." She raised her staff, rapping on the gates and opening them. "Certainly no harm in letting you take a look, though we didn't find anything last night. We'll want to come with you, of course; if there is anything out there, or if the ghouls are restless, you'll need the backup."

"Thank you, ma'am." Jerik nodded, honestly rather grateful for some adult backup. "If I can find the location, I can find the person's face and aura with a bit of luck."

"How are you planning on doing this?" The Bloodhound asked as they entered. "By the way; I am Mage Reln, and that is my Defender, Falina."

"I am Apprentice Jerik, my Defender is Tomar," he nodded to the Rohr. "It is a version of Clairvoyance from back home. Once you are in the right meditative state, time is no different than space to see into. Fully trained, I wouldn't need to find the location like this, but right now I can only shift one factor at a time and my range is pretty limited. I need to be in the place to see even the recent past in any detail."

"Sounds like it could be more effective than the methods we have," Reln mused. "My spells are excellent for detecting active undead, but there's not nearly as much I can do to head off a problem like that."

That actually made Jerik blink. "You can't detect the surges of them being woken up?"

"Only if the spell is being cast while I'm actively trying to detect it," the Bloodhound nodded. "And then all I can tell is that magic is being used. It's typically over before I have the time to get enough detail to know what's happening."

"Oh," he murmured, both stunned and quite mollified over the lack of action. "I don't know how many Mages can learn to do it, but I know enough to teach the basics."

"That's something you'll have to take up with the Elders," she said as they made their way through the graveyard and he began to focus more on tracing the lingering residue of the Dark surge he'd felt. "Fortunately, most undead that are seriously difficult to face are only created by mages who are more dangerous. Far more often we have to deal with restless spirits."

It didn't take him long to pick up the scent of the freshest surge and take the lead in tracking it to it's source.

When they reached the spot, the grave site was undisturbed, an unmarked pauper's grave with relatively fresh footsteps in front of it ... it didn't stand out too much from the others near it though; caretakers often walked through here, it seemed.

Jerik nodded and settled down where he could see the path and began to work into a meditative state where he could use his minor Far Seeing abilities. He closed his physical eyes and opened his inner ones to the flow of the Force as he sank deeper into the Moment where time and space became one.

He felt the supernatural chill of the Necropolis instantly. There was something wrong about this place that he'd sensed since first coming here, and this wasn't making him feel any better about it.

As he reached into the past with his mind, he began to get cloudy images ... somebody etching runes into a whistle ... blowing it ... altering the runes after a few moments to wait, then blowing it again.

But he couldn't see their face, for some reason, or sense their aura, just what they had been doing.

With a low sigh he drew himself back to the now, then cautiously looked forward in time, seeking the next time that particular surge would happen.

It was hard to be sure ... he knew it would be at night. Possibly a week, maybe a little more or less ....

It was much harder seeing the future, and more than a day or two out things got too cloudy to be sure.

Gradually he opened his eyes to the here and now. "Whoever is doing this is well shielded by magic. I cannot see any details. What is doing it is a whistle carved with runes. I could see that clearly. He's still trying to perfect it, changing the rules after each attempt. It doesn't work right yet." Jerik gradually stood with more grace that he felt like he had. "The next attempt isn't likely to be for a few more days. He's getting close though."

"We'll keep watch, but there's no guarantee we'll catch whoever it is," Reln mused. "However, those buried in this plot are not particularly dark souls, simply unknown ones. By all odds, this is not a very powerful necromancer. If he or she succeeds, we'll be able to deal with them much more easily then."

"I truly hope so," Jerik nodded. "Does the item sound familiar?"

"It sounds like a type of item I'm familiar with, but nothing I've seen before," the Bloodhound nodded. "Typically, musical instruments that raise the dead only bring back the weakest sorts. The Totendanz Fiddle, for example; it raised an army of skeletons if played over a battlefield or graveyard. Destroyed decades ago, thankfully. But this should be something we can handle, when we find whoever did this."

The tom nodded and prepared to head back. While he wasn't completely convinced that this was a weak item or Necromancer, he did feel much better about parts of what he knew was going on now. "Thank you for the escort and answers, Mage Reln."

"Not a problem, Apprentice," she smiled. "The two of you can find your own way back out, I assume? Now that we know this is the right grave, I might be able to pick up something I couldn't last night, do some more looking around," she said, tapping the side of her nose.

"Yes, we can." He nodded and smiled at her, more than a little appreciative of her kind's sense of smell. "Good luck, Mage Reln."

"Thank you."

"Good luck to both of you," Falina said with a slight inclination of her head to the Rohr and Apprentice mage, the two of them getting to work trying to sort out a scent that didn't belong here.

"Well, that went pretty well," Tomar observed as they started out.

"Yes, it did. We know a lot more, and now have something we can start researching." He nodded. As they left the Necropolis, Jerik sent a whisper spell to Quasma and Remys, requesting their presence for dinner in his quarters.

"So what did you find out?" Quasma asked as she entered Jerik's quarters with Tim behind her.

"Have a seat and let's wait for Remys." Jerik chuckled and motioned to where he had spiced tea and some cookies set out.

"I like your idea of hospitality," the Rottweiler grinned, pulling out a seat for Quasma before sitting down next to her.

"You'll like the fact that we're not about to go marching off hunting some mage too," Tomar chuckled as he walked back in from a quick bath, not having had the chance to grab one after his lessons in the smithy yet. "Not yet, at least."

"We have a lot more information, however. It was a good way to spend a couple hours." Jerik nodded and poured a cup of tea for his guests. "Dinner will be here in half an hour."

A few minutes later, Remys had arrived, along with Kennara.

"Sorry I'm late," the Gila Monster said. "I was having a word with my countrymen about what was going on with Kennara; it's going to stop."

"Good riddance too," the Vixen muttered. "They were getting really creepy."

"Did you find out what it was all about?" Jerik asked curiously.

"Oh, some prophecy or another that they were saying meant I was supposed to be the consort of their god or something," she muttered, shivering a bit beneath her tunic. "Like I said, creepy."

"It seems they've taken up astrology back home, and they're getting a little ambitious with their interpretation," Remys said dryly. "So, any luck on your end?"

"Some," Jerik nodded and relaxed with his tea after everyone was served. "It is an item, a whistle with runes on it. It doesn't work correctly yet, but he's getting close. You should have a few quiet nights before the next attempt." He told Remys. "I'd like you two to try to find any references to a whistle like this or the runes on it." He pulled two sets of pages from under the cookie tray and handed one to Quasma and one to Remys. "It might help tell us what we're up against."

"I can tell you three of 'em right now, but they aren't anything we don't already know," Quasma murmured, looking at the sheet and indicating the runes in question. "Life, death, and reversal. Basic magical runes in an archaic form. I'll look into the rest of them though."

"Thanks," he nodded. "I still suspect we'll have to handle this ourselves. It's best to know what we're fighting."

"So, you have anything besides this we should know about just now?" Remys asked. "And does this mean I should be prepping my disruption spell pretty heavily for the next few days?"

"It would be useful." Jerik nodded seriously. "And any combat or capture type spells you have too. We'll be facing a Mage, a powerful one compared to any of us. We'll need to be ready for him too. A capture is preferable, but we need to be ready to kill too."

"Will you have your staff done by then?" Quasma asked softly, her own twisted wood one at her side.

"Not likely." Jerik shook his head slightly. "I've been working on an energy blade spell. My staff is still in the design stage."

"You might want to try and talk somebody into giving you a scroll with a Deeper Slumber spell on it; that should be enough to put our grave-robbing friend under easy." She pointed out.

"I'll see if I can," he nodded. "Every advantage is a good one."

Just then, the door opened, dinner floating in to set down on the table.

"Well, here's to us all having some good luck then," Tim said quietly. "And hoping they can solve this mess without us having to get involved."

"I can definitely toast to that," Jerik nodded and lifted his teacup to the rest of theirs.

Quasma grunted a bit as she worked the last strand of her staff into place, the steamed wood creaking slightly as the woven strands all set into place and she put it up to dry. When it was done, it would be as solid as could be, thin strips of different types of wood woven together into a single whole.

She looked back at Jerik, carefully carving the outside of his own staff, a single length of oak that was becoming increasingly covered with symbols and designs she couldn't recognize to save her life.

"What're you up to?" She asked him as he took a break after one of the carvings.

"Recording the past, blending time ..." he glanced up at her, his fingers tracing the designs. "This is where I come from, my path no matter where or what I am called."

"Writing your story into the staff?" She asked him, understanding somewhat at least. "Couldn't that be a little dangerous?"

"It is not really my story," he shook his head. "It's the past, the future ... it's the story of my people and my training's heritage. Give it a few decades and I might actually show up. It might give something away," he admitted and accepted. "But it's meant to be."

"This is you being inscrutable again," she smiled, sitting down next to him and looking at the staff. "Do you mind explaining some of them? Or do you just want to finish it up first?"

"Sure, if you care to sit through it." He chuckled and brought the half-finished staff up to lie on the table. "The base is the insignia of SWAT Alpha, where my family began. A black ops team fromed before we got into space." He brushed his fingers along a stylized cat's head that was one half of the bottom point. "It is half of my heritage, my blood."

"Black ops?" She asked him curiously.

"A team, four to eight people usually, that takes on missions that the government can't acknowledge but needs to have done." He chuckled. "Being in a land where monsters and invaders showed up regularly, we also handled the problems that the regular forces couldn't."

"Sounds like the Executioners," she mused. "At least the first part."

"Likely, given a name like that." He nodded and rolled the staff over to display a stylized bird-like symbol with a hilt carved into it similar to his own. "This is the Jedi insignia, where my training is from. The two are the foundation of my current family."

"So the Jedi and SWAT Alpha are both from your home-world?" The Lynx asked him.

"No, only SWAT Alpha." He shook his head easily. "My grandfather had an accident similar to mine, only he ended up in a place called the Republic. That's where the Jedi are from. We keep in some contact with them and use their training, but it's a very long ways away."

"It really is normal for members of your family to end up in weird places, isn't it?" Quasma chuckled slightly.

"Pretty much," he nodded. "The first of the line, Jake, had dozens of incidents in his life. So did his daughter Jessie. It's leveled out some, but we still get around a lot."

"So you're going to keep working on it through the rest of your career?"

"I expect so, I'm letting it guide me as much as anything. It's why it's taking so long. Enchanting it will likely take a long time too, with my mixed training."

"Probably will," she nodded. "Don't think either of us will have our staves ready by the time your 'friend' comes back, if what you said was going to happen does. Probably going to bring my practice one ... it helps me some at least, and I need all the help I can get with combat magic."

"Even if all you manage is to distract him, it will be useful. Some of my best magic benefits from a distracted target." He smiled and slid his hand along other carvings as they mingled and twisted into a tale only he could read. "This is my grandfather Jay." He paused over the only carving that could be concidered to be of a person. "He became a Jedi and has remained with them. Something about that galaxy makes it very dangerous for him to come home."

"You've never met him then?" Quasma asked, curious about the symbols but knowing she couldn't read them, not without magic at least.

"No," he shook his head slightly, his fingers lingering on the robed figure with his sword. "Never met my father either. He died the day I was conceived."

"Ouch," Quasma murmured, shaking her head slightly. However that had worked out, it had to have been messy. "Fate's got some really strange things in store for you, to judge by what you've already seen."

"He was shot down in a battle that afternoon." Jerik murmured. "He died protecting our colony."

"I'm sorry," she said, reaching up to squeeze his shoulder slightly. "I know it probably doesn't mean much, but I am."

"Thanks," he smiled faintly. "It's not all like that. We get a lot of living done in what years we get."

"I would hope so," she smiled. "'Cause from what I've seen, you're somebody who wants to live."

Tomar groaned slightly, but came the rest of the way to consciousness quickly as he realized it was his charge doing the shaking and not the Rohr he was dreaming of. "Wha?"

"The Necromancer is on the move, it's time for us to get going." Jerik insisted quietly before he darted to his dresser to get his flight suit and alien equipment on.

"Right," Tomar nodded, quickly up and pulling on his lightest layer of armor, leather breastplate and scale-mail skirt, grabbing his sword. "Like the last time, or different?"

"Like last time, only now we know to act fast." Jerik nodded. "The others should be on their way out now." He added as they headed for the balcony and waited for the ground patrol to pass by. "Ready?" He glanced at the much larger 'taur.

The Rohr nodded slightly, mentally crossing his fingers and hoping that Jerik was ready for both their weight on the way down before they jumped off the balcony. The tom had done it before in the guise of an emergency recovery practice, but never without someone nearby with a featherfall spell in case it didn't work.

Tomar focused on breathing evenly and not making a sound as they glided down and out of the path of the guards. It didn't leave them a lot closer to the Necropolis, but it cleared them from immediate scrutiny.

He took a deep breath of relief as they touched down, following Jerik as the tom signaled for them to get moving towards the Necropolis. He just hoped the guards weren't on duty ... or if they were, that they were going to go along with them for now.

Before long, they were outside the gates, Quasma and Tim already waiting for them, Remys and Kennara on the way.

"Sorry to take so long," Remys said, panting a bit. "We had a bit of a scare trying to get out, literally."

"We all made it, that's what counts." Jerik nodded to him. "Now lets go find our troublemaker." He considered the locked gate and the best way around it.

"Allow me," Remys said, pulling a scrap of paper out of his pocket and consulting it. He spoke the words to a familiar locking spell they all knew, a third of the paper burning away as the heavy lock turned.

"I thought we'd need a little extra help," he explained quietly, Kennara stepping forward to push the gates open. Once they were all in, he repeated the spell, sealing the latch so that nobody would know anything had happened until they were out.

"It certainly won't hurt." Jerik nodded and focused on the swelling Darkness he could feel. This time, it wasn't dimming much. "This way." He headed off fast; the other two mages and their Defenders close behind him.

It wasn't long before they found their quarry, a dark-robed figure blowing into a whistle as a half-decomposed Wolf, patches of fur and flesh missing as it crawled out of its grave, pulled itself out the rest of the way, another Wolf's arm jutting out of the ground as its deceased owner worked to free itself from the ground.

"By Marash," Tomar exhaled, eyes wide in a mix of awe and disgust as he hurried to move in front of Jerik.

Jerik extended his hand and focused, exerting his will over physics to pull the whistle to him.

The whistle flew from the Necromancer's hand, and he spun around to face Jerik as the tom felt the metal whistle come to him.

"More interlopers!" The Necromancer snarled. "Kill them!" He ordered the zombies, the first clearing the grave and starting to shamble forward, even as the mage began casting a spell.

"Let me see if it can control them," Remys whispered harshly to Jerik, holding his hand out for the whistle even as he rapped his long, black staff against the ground, the jet stone in the finial glowing with magic and giving them more light to fight by.

It was handed over without question as Jerik locked eyes with the orbs under the hood he was facing and gathered his will. "Silence!"

The mage continued, undaunted, as Jerik felt his Command dissipate before it ever reached his mind. In response, a wave of stark terror and fear washed over him. Tomar ground his teeth, fighting off the effect of the spell and drawing his sword, actually charging forward to take on the first zombie as the second clawed its way free.

Tim and Kennara weren't as lucky, screaming as the fear-spell overpowered their loyalty to their friends, sending them fleeing from the Necromancer.

"Shit," Quasma swore under his breath. "That ring!" She pointed with her practice-staff, indicating the dark iron band on the Necromancer's finger. "It's enchanted!"

"Right." Jerik nodded and grabbed his Ko's-Ri, igniting it with a magic blade spell and went for the way of fighting he understood best -- energy sword and enhanced speed.

"And you are all going to die," the Necromancer promised them, reaching up to push his hood down, revealing a patchy, mangy feline face and twisted lip. He reached over, grabbing a black, gnarled staff from the nearby gravestone, gripping it in both hands just in time to face Jerik's first strike, one aimed at removing the hand with the ring on it. The mage twisted out of the way, swinging his staff towards Jerik's head, speaking a command word that cause it to glow with a sickly green light.

Remys tried blowing the whistle, but swore afterwards.

"Drained," he warned them, brandishing his own staff. "Going to have to do this the old fashioned way."

"Tomar ... keep on the zombies!" Jerik called to his Defender as Remys cast a spell, his staff glowing pale blue as he charged into the fray.

Tomar nodded grimly, hacking at the zombie, his blade biting into its shoulder and fracturing its shoulder ... not that the undead Wolf seemed to care, clawing at the Rohr with splinter-laden fingers that scraped across his leather breastplate.

Quasma ducked down, charging towards the Necromancer, her staff extended almost like a spear as she tried to drive it into his ribs. He dodged to the side easily, her inexperienced attack missing entirely.

"We have to take him alive," she warned Jerik. "The Watchers -" She was cut off by the Necromancer cracking his staff into the side of her head, sending her staggering back a few steps.

"Only to a point," Jerik bared his teeth and twisted to try to take the black-furred Cat out at the knees.

The cry of pain as his energy blade struck the Necromancer's knees and knocked him to them was satisfying, though not nearly as much as it would have been if the magical blade was up to the power of his K'os-ri. As it was, while he was sure he'd injured him, he knew he hadn't managed to cripple him.

It was an impression that was only reinforced by the Necromancer jabbing his glowing staff into Jerik's stomach, knocking him back a step as the green light arced from the staff and into his body, wracking pain shooting through his limbs.

"Jerik!" Tomar yelled, pulling his sword from the zombie's shoulder and driving it through the creature's chest just as Remys struck it with his staff.

"Begone!" The Gila Monster shouted, the light around his staff surrounding the zombie. It raised its head in a silent scream, the blue light lifting into the sky, carrying the unholy force that animated it along with it before the corpse collapsed to the ground.

"Alive." The tom gritted out and focused on filtering out the pain even as he backed off a bit and slammed down on the elder Necromancer with as much Force as he could call on.

Jerik knocked him back, forcing him to the ground with a grunt of pain, hands forced out. He didn't even hesitate, the Necromancer's staff was in his hands next, then he focused on summoning the ring to him.

There was a wrenching sound as the finger the ring was on broke, the Necromancer screaming in pain as the iron band was ripped from his finger.

He heard Quasma chanting the spell on the scroll she'd brought with her, the powerful magic of the Deeper Slumber spell working. The Necromancer passed out, sound asleep, as Tomar and Remys finished the second zombie.

"What?" Jerik spun around and focused on the Lynx with a mixture of frustration and anger. His head snapped up and his gaze beyond her before any words came out. "People coming." He hissed and dropped into a defensive posture, his body and mind fully hyped on a battle high.

"They're this way!" Tim called from where he was leading help back.

"Reinforcements," Quasma sighed in relief, really not in the mood for more of a fight.

"Good," Jerik turned his attention to the unconscious Necromancer with a frown. "I hate this part." He knelt and touched the patchy, mangy feline face and dove into his mind with little regard for the comfort of his target. He wanted information and he was going to have it. Now.

He forced his way through the outer layers of the mage's sleeping mind as Tomar came over and started tying the Cat's hands quickly. Fortunately, the power of the spell would keep him from waking up too easily.

It didn't take him long to find out what the mage had been doing; the whistle was just what it seemed to be, a shortcut to animating the dead. Gritting his teeth against the pain he still felt where the staff had struck him, he forced his way deeper into the mage's mind, looking for what he'd done to Reln and Falina.

Damn it ... so that was how he'd avoided detection. He was using abandoned ghoul tunnels as a base. Fortunately, as far as the mage knew, they were still alive, if injured.

Jerik pulled his mind fully back into himself and looked around, unsure just how much time had passed or who was now there. He saw that Tim and Kennara had both returned, along with a familiar mage in dark robes and a very disapproving expression, her Defender next to her, kneeling to replace Tomar's hastily-done bonds with a pair of manacles.

It seemed that Kennara and Tim had gone straight to the duty mage in the Necromancy wing ... probably just as well, given what they thought they were up against.

"I see you can't just leave things to your superiors," The Skunk said with a scowl for all three mages, especially Remys.

"A good thing, given what's happened, Mage." Jerik told her politely but firmly. "He succeeded tonight, has two Watchers imprisoned in his lair and Remys and I were still the only ones to sense it in time to do anything."

"Where are the prisoners?" Her partner, a male Skunk in light armor, asked brusquely.

"In his lair, in the ghoul tunnels, Sir." Jerik looked up at him seriously. "I can lead the way there, but I'm not sure how to describe the route."

"Are you sure you're up to it?" The mage asked. "I can tell that something he hit you with is still working."

"We might not have time, Shaala," the Defender pointed out softly. "If it's not an immediate threat, I say we find them, then get him back to be checked out afterwards, along with the others. They're probably in worse shape if they were captured."

"I am up to it, Mage Shaala." Jerik told her with certainty. "The physical damage is minimal and it is not draining energy. It just hurts a lot. I've taken worse hits in training before."

Abruptly Jerik shifted his focus to Tomar, his expression contrite as he assessed his partner's condition. He was in remarkably good shape, really, a few oozing cuts on his side and his armor scored ... but the look on his face and sense in his mind that he'd failed to protect his charge was clear.

"All right, but I'll want to check on it again once we're back," she decided. "Defender Tomar; come with us. The rest of you, watch him and make sure that the guards take him to a cell when they're ready."

"Tomar, you did exactly what I needed you to." He walked up to his partner and squeezed his arm before turning to the Skunks. "Yes, Mage Shaala."

The others nodded slightly as the Skunks stood and followed Jerik and Tomar to the tunnels.

Descending, Jerik was struck by the scent of earth and rot. Fortunately, the tunnels weren't that deep, having been used by grave-robbers, ghouls, and necromancers variously over the decades they'd been around. Often collapsed, it almost seemed like somebody had decided to keep them around for some reason in the recent years.

Maybe it was easier to track the creatures when you knew where they'd be.

It wasn't hard to find Reln and Falina; both furious, injured, and tied to the wall, their gear sitting on a makeshift lab table in the subterranean room they were in.

"I'm going to kill that sick son of a bitch!" Falina snarled when the muzzle around her mouth was removed, the Jackal fuming loudly as she hurried to the desk, pulled out a healing potion and hurried back to Reln as the Bloodhound slumped to the floor, hurt worse than her Defender was by whatever the mage had done to her.

"Can you two make it out all right?" Shaala asked.

Reln nodded as she drank the potion, making a face at the flavor of it, but wiping her lips clean and soon visibly better for it.

"Yes ... we'll need to speak with the Elders later, but we can make it back. Thank you, Apprentice," she added, looking at Jerik. "Good that you found us, before he'd had more time to work through my spellbook."

"You are welcome," he nodded to them. "I'm glad his mind wasn't any stronger than it was. Your location wasn't easy to pull from him."

"Oh, somebody would have found it," Shaala said darkly, brown eyes glittering with anger for the rogue mage they had caught. "We might not animate the dead, but we have found that they are sometimes more willing to talk than they were when they lived. Come on, let's get you back to be checked out. What he's done to all three of you doesn't resemble any necromancy magic I know."

Reln flashed a few hand signals to Shaala, who blinked in surprise.

"Mage Reln suspects he was a Blight mage," the Skunk explained. "Come, we should hurry. Your injuries could become permanent if they aren't cared for properly. I hope the Prelate is ready." She sent a wind-whisp off with a quick spell, the grave-dust floating up and carrying the message off as she started to lead the way back out briskly.

Everyone else followed obediently and in various stages of relief to get out of the tunnels, then out of the Necropolis itself. It was not a night any of them would forget anytime soon.

They made their back into the Academy buildings, quickly turning off to stop at medical, where a large Bear in clerical vestments was ready for them.

"Apprentice Jerik, I assume," he said, looking at the young Kat.

"Yes, Sir." He nodded.

"Would you and your Defender come with me? Mage Reln; if you would wait here, I'll check on the deeper injuries you and your partner have suffered in a few moments. This shouldn't take long."

"We'll return to our duties," Shaala said, turning and leaving with her Defender as Tomar and Jerik followed the Bear back into what looked for all the world like an altar room.

"Would the two of you please approach the altar," the Prelate told them. "The aura around it will make the spell more effective."

Jerik nodded and stepped close, a soft sigh escaping as he felt the incredibly potent life-energy that enveloped the area around the altar. He could almost feel whatever it was inside him rebelling against it, but it didn't stop him from walking straight into the center of the area. It felt incredibly good here.

"Very good," the Prelate nodded, following them and looking at Tomar's wounds.

"Zombie claws, not Blight magic?" He asked the Rohr.

"Yes, Prelate Raphael," Tomar nodded. "Jerik was the only one injured by the mage's spells."

"I'll give you something to stave off infection in a bit then," the Bear nodded. "Apprentice Jerik; do you have any religious strictures against accepting healing magic from somebody outside your faith?"

"No, Prelate." He answered easily and truthfully. He'd be hard pressed to say he had a religious belief after all, and none of the ones from Aristal had that idea in them anyway.

"Very good." The Bear nodded, rolling his sleeves back a bit, dark brown fur over thick muscle. "Mishta, grant me the strength to drive the Blight from this young warrior," he prayed softly, his hands glowing a gentle blue as he laid them over Jerik's injury.

Jerik felt like the spot was on fire for a moment, the magic that he'd been attacked with fighting against the healing magic the Prelate was bringing to bear against it. Before long, the pain faded completely, a gentle, comfortable warmth settling in in its stead. It wasn't like the Force had felt when he'd been healed before, but similar ... there was a much clearer sense of intent and compassion about the energy than the Force.

"Better?" Prelate Raphael asked him.

"Yes, Prelate." He nodded. "Thank you."

"Good," the Bear smiled, moved around behind the altar and pulled out a small jar of salve. "Now, this is for those claw marks. Smear it on the wounds, then bandage them, you should be find in a couple of days."

"Thank you, Prelate," Tomar nodded and accepted the jar, the bleeding already pretty well stopped.

"No problem; it's what I'm here for," he chuckled. "Just don't end up back in here too quickly."

"It will never be our intent, Prelate." Jerik smiled at him and bowed in respect, then turned to collect his Defender with a careful hand on his arm. "Come on, let's get back to our quarters so I can help you put that on."

"Thanks," Tomar smiled and followed him out as the Prelate followed them far enough that he could start to see to the more experienced Mage and Defender waiting for him. "You are all right, right?" The Rohr asked him in the halls, clearly concerned.

"Yes, the blow was minimal and the extra magic has been dissipated." Jerik nodded as they made the long trek back to their quarters. "Do you want more of the anti-scaring salve for those?"

"No," Tomar said easily. "If these scar, they scar, no big deal. Besides, they're from an actual battle," he chuckled slightly.

"A very serious battle for your age too." Jerik couldn't help but to grin a bit in pride for his partner. "Taking out two zombies by fourteen isn't something many can say they've done. I knew I chose well with you."

"Yeah, but even fewer can say they brought down a Blight mage," Tomar pointed out with a chuckle as they climbed up the stairs to their level of the Transmutation tower. "Even if we did both have help, I'm still not sure if 'brave' or 'stupid' describes the six of us best tonight."

"Determined," Jerik suggested. "A friend was in trouble and we helped him."

"Works for me," Tomar smiled as they slipped into their rooms quietly. The Rohr leaned down, giving Jerik a light kiss on the cheek. "And whatever you say, I still wish I'd been able to keep you from getting hurt. It is my job, after all."

"I know." He nodded as they walked into the bedroom and he gathered their grooming supplies while Tomar stripped his armor off. "It might not be my job, but I wish I could have helped you in the fight too."

"You handled the mage," Tomar pointed out, fingering the wounds carefully. "At least these aren't deep," he said, pulling out the salve and spreading it onto the cuts. "Think we're going to have to work on our combat practice more once you get your staff done. About the time they'd start pushing us towards it anyways, really."

"I can't say I'm not looking forward to some real time to work together." Jerik nodded and settled down on Tomar's bed, ready to wrap the wounds and then groom his partner.

The Rohr sat down next to him, raising his arms so that Jerik could get at the cuts easily with the bandages.

"Did that spell work the way it was supposed to?" He asked Jerik, knowing he'd been working hard on it.

"It was weaker than I had hoped, but it worked." He nodded and carefully bandaged Tomar's wounds. "The strength will improve with time."

"That's great," Tomar grinned, resting his arm as Jerik tied the bandages behind his back. "Always good when your first spell works the way you planned on, right?"

"It's very good." He nodded and picked up a hand brush usually used on horses and went to work on Tomar's back, brushing a freshen cantrip into his fur.

"Ooh, that feels good," the Rohr rumbled. "Want me to return the favor once you're done?" He asked with a bit of a yawn, the hour starting to catch up with him.

"Good, and yes." Jerik smiled and worked along his lower spine, taking all the care he needed to to relax his partner the way he deserved.

It wasn't long before the Wolf-taur was as close to purring as he could get, tense muscles relaxing as Jerik smoothed out his fur and worked the occasional knot out of it carefully. Coarse grey fur lay smooth and shiny, pleasure and a hint of arousal in Tomar's scent as he picked up a smaller brush for Jerik.

"Your turn now?" He asked.

"Sure." The tom slipped out of his clothes and shifted to give Tomar an easy reach of his back.

The Rohr start brushing Jerik's medium-length fur, going slowly at first, careful of any tangles he might find.

"So ... were you scared?" He asked Jerik softly as he groomed the smaller tom.

"For some of it," he admitted as he laid down with a pleasured groaned for the attention. "The rest I was too focused on getting it done to think about it until it was over. It helped that it wasn't my first battle. Just the most dangerous one I've faced."

"I'm starting to think that not thinking about it's the important thing," Tomar admitted with a bit of a chuckle, working the brush through Jerik's fur, focusing on his tensest muscles. "Want me to get your front?"

"Sounds good," he purred throatily and rolled over. "So does snuggling tonight." He murmured.

"Sounds very good to me, if you're interested," Tomar smiled brightly, brushing out Jerik's front, stretching out a bit next to him.

"I did suggest it," Jerik smiled and shifted to snuggle close, the warmth of their bodies providing a welcome reassurance that the night had gone well in the end.

Jerik couldn't be surprised at being summoned before Mage Cameron before lunch, along with Quasma and Remys. They had broken rules and displayed a level of insubordination that even his family would feel obliged to reprimand them for, even if it was completely in character and expected. What he hadn't counted on was the looks and whispered comments from not just other students, but full Mages too. Most whispered about what their punishments would be, but just as many held looks and whispers of awe at what they'd done.

Most of those were from other apprentices, which was more understandable ... but he'd heard at least one full mage talking about how unusual it was for apprentices to deal with what they had.

He pushed it aside and composed himself as he waited outside Mage Cameron's door with Quasma and Remys while the older Wolf finished up another appointment.

"So, think we're going to be mucking out the griffon stables for a few months?" The Lynx asked him resignedly.

"I don't know." Jerik answered softly, his voice as evenly composed as the rest of him. Whatever it was, it was worth it.

"Mage Reln talked to him on our behalf at least," Remys said. "They're both going to be fine, by the way. The Prelate cleansed the Blight magic from them, and they're just going to need a few weeks to rest and recuperate."

"Good," Jerik managed a small smile before they were summoned before Mage Cameron.

"Well, if it isn't the heroes of the hour," the middle-aged Wolf observed as they walked in. "I assume the three of you realize why you're here?"

"We broke the rules, Mage Cameron." Jerik answered.

"That is a given, Apprentice," he actually chuckled slightly. "I'm curious, however, as to whether or not you realize which rules you actually broke."

He paused as he reviewed his actions. "Curfew, and we broke into Necropolis." He actually hesitated when he realized that was probably it and it seemed far too short a list. "Anything else?"

"Actually, no, given what I know about orders the three of you were given," Cameron confirmed. "With one exception; Apprentice Quasma, you requisitioned a scroll of Deeper Slumber on the grounds that you were doing research into a weaker version of the spell. I presume that you intended it for the use it was put to all along?"

"If nothing had happened, I would have put it to the use I'd stated, but you are correct," she admitted. "I doubted that anybody would approve a requisition for possible field use."

"No, they wouldn't have," the Wolf agreed. "And with good cause; that spell was well beyond your ability to control with any certainty."

"Though I did control it," she pointed out, ducking her head at the stern glance the reply earned her.

"Luck is a poor substitute for common sense and skill, Apprentice," Cameron told her. "That said, with that exception, your infractions were actually extremely minor. Further, I believe that all three of you believed you were doing the right thing, and your accomplishments as a result of your infractions were impressive for students of your skill. You work well together," he observed.

"There is one issue that I need resolved before making a decision in your cases; why did you not go for help, or at least send a portion of your group for help while the others went ahead? As I understand it, assistance was only requested after two of your Defenders were overcome by a Fear spell and a duty mage responded to their screams."

"Remys asked for help multiple times before coming to me for it. After I confirmed he was hearing something real and dangerous, we asked for help and were told it was not for us to deal with, despite Remys and I being the only ones who could sense it. The Watchers couldn't find it or sense it, until I showed them where the whistle had been used. Even then, it was only a physical scent trail." Jerik explained calmly. "There was no reason to believe that we would not just be sent to our rooms again and the thing out there left to escape again because no one hunting it could sense it. That was just not an acceptable option."

"And what would have happened had the mage been more than you could handle?" Cameron pointed out. "The option may not have been acceptable to you, but given some time, even with his eventual success, he would have been found. Even if you did go to deal with the situation yourself, one of you, or even magical word, should have been sent to somebody so that you had backup. That, however, is a question of tactics and experience, not of rules infractions, and beyond the true scope of my duties here," he concluded, rather pleased to see that at least Jerik seemed to have understood the lesson and taken it in.

"Apprentices Remys and Jerik; you will be confined to quarters for the remainder of the week, barring chores and classes. Your Defenders will also be bound by this decision, unless their superiors choose to directly contradict it, or impose a more severe punishment. Apprentice Quasma; you will also be confined to quarters. However, you will further be penalized one-half your stipend, until such a time as you have repaid the cost of the scroll you requested. You may perform additional chores for credit on this penalty, per the discretion of the duty mages in your wing. That is all; the three of you are dismissed, unless you have anything further to say."

"Mage Cameron, may we help pay back the cost of the scroll?" Jerik again spoke for all three of them, his manner accepting and calm in taking both responsibility and charge of his group of friends.

"Can you justify doing so?" The Mage asked him. "After all, the punishment is more the issue than the question of paying back the cost of the scroll. I was under the impression it was her choice to do so alone."

"Acquiring the scroll was something we all agreed to after the first incident we knew about." He answered softly. "Whoever could figure out how was the one to get it. Quasma may have been the one to get it, but it was part of a plan we all agreed to."

"Very well then; Apprentices Jerik and Remys, you will have your stipends reduced by a quarter until repayment is completed, with the same agreement regarding duties to repay at a faster rate."

Jerik nodded, not just accepting, but pleased that the punishments were more just now. "Come." He said softly to his companions and turned to leave.

"That was lighter than I'd expected, even with the scroll in there," Quasma admitted as they left the room.

"Same here," Jerik nodded. "Any idea how much that scroll is?"

"Assuming they give us our usual discount for being students of the Academy ... which they might not," Quasma admitted, "About a hundred and ninety gold."

"And without?" Remys asked, doing the math in his head and not being very happy about the results.

"About twice that."

"Ouch," the Gila Monster winced. "Remind me to stick to making my own scrolls until I have an independent source of income."

"It's a scroll we couldn't have made." Jerik pointed out. "Still ... a year if we do nothing, three or four months if we work at it. It won't be that difficult, and it's not like we won't have some fun money."

"Yeah," Remys nodded. "If you need some help, Quasma, just let me know, okay? We should probably get back to our quarters quick; I don't know about you guys, but I'm just going to enjoy the chance to get some sleep without worrying about evil whistles waking me up."

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to spending some time with Tomar without worries. We can start nosing around for jobs after we aren't restricted." Jerik nodded, honestly looking forward to the break he'd never give himself. Three days he could manage ... longer, that'd be punishment.

Of course ... a part of him, honestly, figured that that was part of the point, for this one. He was sure that Cameron had been light on them for the penalty. The three apprentices split up, making brief plans to meet up in a few days as they headed out.

Tomar came back from his 'talk' with the Defenders, surprised to hear that his punishment was as light as it would be, but not as surprised as he was when he got into the room. Dinner was laid out, a few grooming brushes, various things that suggested Jerik was actually in a good mood.

The punishment was going to be light, but he'd half-expected Jerik to be fuming no matter how light it was.

"Hello?" The Rohr called, stepping into the room, the door closing behind him.

"Hi, Tomar." Jerik came out of the bedroom in just a pair of light shorts. "I figured we could make the best of it and actually spend some time with just us."

"Sounds good to me," the Rohr smiled. "I'd been figuring I'd have to help cheer you up, but this is better. So, things went well?"

"It was very light," he nodded and relaxed on several pillows on the floor in from of the short table, using the couch as a backrest. "Three days confined to quarters and Quasma, Remys and I have to pay back the cost of the scroll she used."

"Yeah, that is pretty light," Tomar nodded, settling down on the floor near Jerik. "And you're stuck with me for the next couple days," he teased lightly. "I was told that I had whatever punishment you did, and they put me on light duty for the next few days until they're sure that Prelate Raphael's salve works like it's supposed to."

"Hopefully it will," Jerik nodded and leaned over a little closer to his partner. "You did really good out there."

"Thanks," Tomar blushed. "You did better, I still think. You and Quasma took that guy out a lot faster than I'd thought it would've gone."

"And slower than I'd expected." He shook his head with a chuckle and picked up a finger sandwich of meat and cheese and offered it to Tomar's mouth.

"Mmm ... we're just starting, after all," Tomar rumbled, taking the sandwich and returning the gesture, licking Jerik's fingertips lightly.

"I'm sorry I got you in trouble, Tomar, and I'm very grateful you were there, duty or no duty." He shifted to kiss him on the cheek. "Thank you."

The Rohr blushed at the kiss, his pulse picking up slightly, even if it was probably just a friendly gesture.

"You're welcome. And don't worry about the trouble - it's not a big deal, and I'd have been in more if I hadn't gone with you."

"Abandoning your duty." He nodded and took a bite-sized sandwich for himself and scooted close enough that they were touching. "Would I be right that you're interested in being more than just friends?" Jerik looked up, his manner serious but open.

"Uhm ... yeah," Tomar admitted, blushing deeply. "You are handsome, especially for only being on two legs."

"Give me a few years and that could change," he chuckled, though it wasn't a joke. "I'm not quite up for having a lover, yet." He turned serious. "I honestly don't know if I'll be attracted to you when I am. I do know I enjoy sleeping close to you, and it's unlikely I'd have chosen you if I didn't find you physically appealing on some level." He reached up to brush Tomar's cheek gently. "I don't expect you to wait on me if you find someone you'd like to be with, either."

"I'll keep it in mind, but it's not like I'm rushing off towards it either," Tomar smiled. "Body's growing up faster than the rest of me is, I think sometimes."

"It happens," Jerik nodded and reached out to pick a strip of savory bread, offering it to the Rohr's mouth. "Just let me know if I'm making things hard for you. I'm used to a lot of physical contact that isn't sexual."

"I'll let you know," Tomar promised, taking the strip and eating it slowly, offering some meat to Jerik and got his fingers licked in the process. "So far, I like it."

"Good," the young tom purred and snuggled close, more than happy to eat the finger food they were feeding each other and just be close to the warrior that he was growing increasingly fond of.

A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9: Swells of Darkness

NC-17 for Female Masturbation
Het Level is None
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

70 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written December 7, 2005 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Herath, Star Wars (Furry)

Primary Races: Canine, Feline, Fox, Gila Monster, Kat, Reptile, Rohr (Herm Wolftaur), Wolf

Contents: Furry. Gender-shifting, Masturbation (Teen)

Blurb: Someone is trying to raise the dead in the Necropolis, but only Remys and Jerik can sense it.

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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