Synopsis: Terri gets to meet the Council and quite a few things are revealed. Like who might be responsible for all her problems...
Terry woke up, lying on a reclining chair. There was a throbbing in his head as he sat up, only to find himself in what appeared to a library.
He looked around seeing the council sitting along their table looking at him. To his right, Allyssa and the women staying at his house who were to be teaching him magic.
He looked at Allyssa, and then pointed with one finger held against his chest toward the table, mouthing "Council?" at her. Allyssa nodded and turned to face them.
"How are you feeling Terry?" Asked Augustine. "Your episode this afternoon in the park left us a bit worried, so we decided that we needed to speak with you right away."
Terry gulped, then turned and faced the council. "Oh, yeah, I suppose so. I don't know what really came over me. I was getting angry at that guy and I just suddenly snapped..."
"And used mana to boost your physical size and strength."
"Uhm, yeah. I'm not sure how I did that."
Augustine held out her hand, and a book from a shelf to the left of the table sailed over and into her grasp.
"This book has a great deal of good information that you might find useful, including how and why that happened, but we brought you here in order to explain the basics of your situation."
"Uhm..." Said Terry as an uncomfortable twinge rippled over his skin. "Pardon me, but I think my transformation spell is wearing off."
He closed his eyes, and shuttered slightly as his very skin seemed to liquefy and began remolding itself into the female form that Terri had become.
Hips began to widen, muscles shrunk, and his hair lengthened. The skin on his face reshaped itself and softened until he was a she and back to her almost angelic appearance. As the breasts increased in size, her symbiotic suit transformed itself back into the cat suit pattern from earlier in the day.
"Ugh, ok. I'm still not used to that. I'm sorry, please continue." She said.
Augustine smiled. "You'll get used to it the more you do it. I suspect you'll be transforming yourself often from now on."
"Always good to know." replied Terri.
"Well, back down to business." Beatrice interrupted. "We need to explain many things to you today."
"Right." said Augustine. "I think we are going to start with the spell that changed you."
"You know about it?" Asked Terri.
"We know quite a bit about the spell. Allyssa had explained to us about how you managed to pull off all the effects with only one spell. One of your instructors retrieved your memorized copy of that spell, and we've pooled some resources for you. We'll soon have a set of spells for you to restore everything the way it was before."
"Really? You'd do that for me?" Terri asked, being both apprehensive and excited.
"Well, with all the things that your grandmother did to you...” replied Augustine, but was interrupted by Terri.
"My Grandma? What does she have to do with all this?"
"Well, we believe she created the spell."
"Grandma is dead. She passed away when I was TEN! HOW CAN YOU BLAME HER for this?!" Terri shouted, and then pulled her legs up to her chest as she finished.
Allyssa was watching the exchange; she thought to herself that Terri still had not adjusted to the new hormone levels. Hopefully the council would not be cross over her behavior.
But everyone in the room was surprised as Augustine was at Terri's side a moment later, her arm around the now sobbing girl.
"I'm sorry Terri. You must have loved your Grandmother. I miss her too; she was one of my best friends.
"But she's gone. How could she do this to me?"
Augustine sighed. "Sometimes, the dead have ways. In fact, since her death, your Grandmother has left me enough clues to prove that she was a Precognitive."
"Precognition is future awareness, or future sight. We believe she could see events in the future. I believe that your Grandmother was probably watching us have this very conversation, back when she was alive. I believe this, because I have every reason to believe that she was probably the greatest precognitive on the planet."
Terri just sat there, transfixed by what Augustine was saying.
"Terri, I am sure that your grandmother was... Is responsible for everything that has happened to you this last week. I wish I could tell you why though."
"Me too." commented Terri Idly.
Augustine smiled. "That’s perfect then."
"What is?" Terri asked.
"Well, it's my birthday in two weeks, and after your Grandmother died, she left me a box with presents for each of my birthdays these last eight years. Every year the gift has been exactly what I wanted, and I hope this year will be no exception."
"I don't understand." Said Terri
"Because you see, there is only one thing I want this year. An explanation. And I am sure that in that last box is what I want, because she left me a clue. She addressed it to me... and you as well."
"Uhm, do you think we could open it now?" Asked Terri.
"If I could, I would do it, that I promise you. But Agatha seemed to not trust my ability not to peek, for the last present is sitting outside the rules of normal reality, meaning I can see it in the bottom of the box, but I cannot touch it yet.
It seems she wanted you to wait for an explanation too. I'm sorry."
Terri looked down. "It's okay. Grandma told me once that I was special and that she loved me, but that one day something would happen that would make me want to hate her. I think she was referring to today."
"What else did she tell you?" Augustine asked, tightening her hold on the girl, trying to make her feel better.
"She said that I would forgive her when it was all over."
"So there is still more to her temporal machinations."
A woman appeared of to the side of the council table. "My pardons elders."
Augustine looked up where she had been kneeling. "Did you find it?"
"Exactly where you thought it would be, the doorway of the girls locker room. The residual in the area defines it as almost a decade old, same with the classroom door one."
"Yes, Two in Terri's room. Both set off. Both about the same age as the other two."
Augustine appeared lost in thought for a moment, while Beatrice took the reins. "Do you know what they did?"
"The locker room was a mana block. It could have sealed up any users ability to regenerate mana for several weeks. It was too overly powerful."
"Same as the park one then."
"And the classroom?"
"Repair and lock spell. All the circles thus far had a timer to prime after ten years. Activation by a secondary unknown trigger."
"What about her room then?" Asked Augustine, returning to control of the conversation.
"Timers on them just like the rest. Both were compulsion spells. One was to calm and sleep, was set off two days after the other. Monday morning to be exact. The other's compulsion is unknown."
The woman then turned, and walked in between the stacks and Terri lost sight of her. She had been listening however and decided it was time to speak up. "Ten year old timers, spells that I set off? Grandma really has been playing with me after death, hasn't she? She even helped me get to sleep Monday morning?"
"Yes Terri, it appears so,” said Augustine with a sigh.
"Terri, you need to stay strong now. You have to, for me and everyone here. No one here knew who you were a week ago. Your grandmother said that her daughter was not capable of magic and had taken her out of our world, so she could live normally. No one here knew you even existed, but we all care about you, especially now. I promise you that in two weeks, you and I and many others are going to be here, and we can open our gift together."
There was nothing said, no sound for several seconds, as Terri had tried to disappear in Augustine's embrace.
"Ahem." Beatrice cleared her throat. "Well, that certainly explains how you knew her name this afternoon. But we have that other bit of business to attend to. The other revelation."
"Yes, of course." Replied Augustine. She reached into the pocket of her slacks and pulled out a small rounded, smooth, and flat stone. It looked similar to the stones used in fish tanks.
"Do you have any idea what this is?"
Terri brightened up as she saw it. "Oh yeah, I've seen those before."
"This isn't something you find at a pet store."
Terri snatched the stone out of Augustine's hand, as she said. "Yeah, cause you can make this one glow!"
As Terri held it, a glowing from the center of the stone began radiating outward until it was almost as bright as a candle.
"Yes, you're quite right. May I have it back?"
"Sure," said Terri, handing it back to her. "I just haven't figured out how to get it to stop shining. What's the trick to it?"
Augustine stood up and walked it over to the table setting it down, the other council members leaned forward to see it, then returned to their positions.
"Terri, how do you know about this stone?"
"Well, in the trunk in my attic where I found the spell, there is a whole mess of them. I must have spent ten minutes getting them all to glow, but like I said, I haven't figured out how to make them stop."
Augustine paled. "Just a moment." she said as she rapped on the table and picking up the receiver for the phone that had appeared. She spoke quietly into it for several seconds, and then set the receiver down.
"Terri, these are called storing stones, and they glow when mana is put into them, to store and save for another day."
At that moment, two men appeared holding a large steamer trunk. Augustine recognized it from seeing it at Agatha's home years before.
"Hey, that's the trunk. The one I found the spell in." Terri chimed, excitedly.
Augustine walked over, lifted the lid only an inch and was treated to a bright glow from the interior. Shutting it, she looked up and down between the rows. "Marcene, can you come here please?"
Said girl who had reported on the circles returned to view. "Yes Elder?"
"Could you come take a look at this?"
The girl walked around the case and Augustine lifted the lid an inch again, and Marcene shielded her eyes.
"This was in her attic, only feet from the two circles, how could you have possibly missed it?"
Marcene tried to answer, but Augustine took control of the conversation.
"Take tomorrow then, and go over every inch of the school, her home, the park and everything within two miles of her home, and more thoroughly than last time. You find anything, anything at all, you let me know."
"Yes Elder, I'm sorry I failed elder."
Marcene looked around to see how many people had witnessed this reprimand and her eyes locked on Terri. She seemed to stare a moment too long before turning and disappearing between the shelves once again.
"Alright, where was I, ok Magic one-oh-one." Said Augustine as she walked back toward Terri.
"I was hoping I wouldn't need to have to explain this to you, because it hurts to think about it. But I have to be the one to tell you that you are a very special kind of user. You, Terri, are a Vortex."
The room was filled with murmuring and gasps, no one but Augustine had kept a neutral expression. Allyssa was sitting there, her mouth agape.
"What's a vortex?" asked Terri, showing no lack of confusion on her face.
"Well, you know what mana is, right? You have that nice symbiotic suit that you have to give mana to make it work, so I assume you know what it is."
"Well, mana is like the magical equivalent of fatigue. If you and I were to go run a mile, we would both be tired, and we would no longer have the energy we did earlier. And we would probably need to sleep to recover it."
"Well, mana works the same way. Users can use up all their mana for the day, and then the only way to recharge is to sleep. Every user in this room is limited to how much magic they can cast in a day... everyone but you."
Terri looked at her. "That's the vortex?"
"Yes. You are able to recharge mana almost as soon as you use it and fast. You should easily able to outcast or out-magic everyone in this room."
"There is a good and bad side to this, I will admit. I think there is a book here in the library that will explain your unique ability better than I can."
"How do you know for sure, that I am this vortex?
"Because, in order for me or anyone else to have made all the stones in that trunk glow, it would have taken us months. Because we would run out after filling only a few, but you said you filled all these in ten minutes."
Terri started to blush, she was suddenly aware that everyone was watching her.
"Terri, I do want to say one more thing. That spell that made you what you are, also unlocked the vortex. It had been sealed away, probably since you were an infant. This is a good thing, because all that mana being drawn into you plays havoc with the body and you would age very slowly. The last vortex still looked like an infant when he was six years old. Your grandmother sealed you up, possibly so at least you could become a normal looking adult before your aging slows down. I do hope she explains that."
"Yeah, me too." Commented Terri.
"Now, it's getting late, and your mother will be worried. Allyssa, can you take Terri home?"
"I think so elder."
"Good. I want to speak with everyone else here after you leave, and Terri?"
"You are the first vortex in almost thirty years. I wouldn't gloat over it. I recommend that no one outside this room be told. You'll have many jealous users after you. Oh, and here is that book I wanted you to read."
Augustine picked up the book from the table and tossed it to her, and then Allyssa took Terri's arm and they both disappeared.
"Elder, may I speak with you again?" called Marcene from the shadows at the end of the shelf.
"At once, what did you see?" Augustine said, motioning for her to return.
She looked into Marcene's eyes as the girl wistfully approached, and reveled in the fact nothing more than white orbs. The girl was blind, yet could see more than most.
"The girl. That was Terri, right?"
"Yes, it was."
"Didn't you say that spell broke four seals on her?"
"Yes, what about it?"
"I saw the remains of the four, but there was a fifth."
The room had already been shocked once tonight, and all in attendance were again stunned. The calm whispers replaced by alarmed muffled speech that increased in volume until Augustine silenced them all.
"QUIET, everyone. Marcene, did you say a fifth seal?"
"I suppose it was too far away to gain any idea what it did?"
"It was in Glyph, and I cannot read it, it burned just to behold."
"Figures. I wonder what that one is for?"
A male elder, whom until that time not spoken over a whisper, asked. "Do you think that Agatha goofed and forgot, or that Terri herself goofed the spell?"
Augustine turned to face him. "No Gregory, I do not. I think that seal is there for a reason, and knowing about it is the only thing Agatha is allowing us, for now."
"Listen up everyone. "The rules have changed, and you are all witness..."
"Ally?" asked Terri, as they walked down the street toward her home. Allyssa had Teleported them both to an alley near the school, somewhere safe that no one would see them. "I have some questions." She said.
"I'll answer what I can." Allyssa replied.
"You knew I was some kind of powerful user, didn't you?"
"The moment you showed me the spell on the bleachers."
"Did the council order you not to tell me?"
"I assumed they would, and I did downplay your ability there while I tried to keep you calm."
"Thank you. I don't know if I could have withstood all this new information at once. Being a surrogate mother to my outfit's child still has me reeling.
"You mean you found another suit? You're carrying already?"
"No, not yet. I was speaking about the idea of it. I'm so deep in this magic stuff, it's hard to breath, despite the two inch thick soles on these boots."
"It is a lot to take in isn't it?"
Terri was about to comment, when Allyssa exclaimed. "Shoot. I need to get you home and your mother can't see me like this, and I used up all the mana I had today dealing with you."
Terri looked at her. "You need some extra mana?"
"If you wouldn't mind."
"I'd almost think you wanted me to recharge your battery or something."
"You must not have figured out how you are going to give it to me yet."
"On the contrary." Replied Terri, as she pulled Allyssa into an embrace, and pressed her lips against the shorter girl's.
Allyssa murmured softly, trying to smile, then suddenly moaned, her eyes wide, as the mana being poured into her came in faster than she had expected.
Terri finally broke the kiss, looking at Allyssa, whose head was shivering.
"Was that enough?"
"Damn girl, 'Was that enough?' she asks. That's more than I normally get in a day!"
"Don't be, that was a rush."
"So you enjoyed it too."
"Yeah, but next time, use my other lips if you want to be so forceful."
Terri blushed an ever-deeper shade of red. Allyssa swore she could see her cheeks glowing.
"Damn, you're so easy to embarrass." said Allyssa. She threw her arms around Terri for another quick embrace.
"So, about that change...” Terri idly commented.
"Sorry." said Allyssa, breaking the hug. She began reciting a spell and Terri watched as her hair went from black with violet stripes to a dark auburn and her skin becoming a warmer tint.
The various studs in her eyebrows, nose and lip disappeared leaving her with one small stud in each ear and no other puncture marks. Her makeup seemed to un-apply itself, uncurling from around her eyelashes and disappearing all together, leaving her natural face behind.
Her Goth attire morphed from fishnets and a short skirt to denim jeans with a hint of flaring at the bottom, possibly to hide her boots, which remained. Her layers of fishnet, tube top and spiked leather that covered her torso became a simple V-neck women's T-shirt that was lavender in color.
"There. How do I look?"
"Like a different person. Still beautiful, but different."
"Hey! Before you said I was only pretty!"
"Uhm, what can I say. I'm not really into Goth."
"Okay, I can live with that. At least you are being honest. I was almost sure you were afraid of me."
Terri replied, "I'd rather be honest with you. You're trying so hard to be a friend to me, even though we haven't talked before I looked like this."
Allyssa put her arms around Terri again. She waited a moment, before responding. "Well, to be honest, I hadn't considered you in the whole scheme of my daily life. When you showed up on Monday, you suddenly took my entire focus."
"Before, the only time we would have spoken was when you got in my way. Being a user makes me feel better than everyone else, makes me feel powerful. Now I have to give you that honor, and you aren't going to take advantage of that, are you?"
"I'm not better than you Ally. If I'm anything more than you, it's in the category of being screwed up. I'll bow to your superiority any day."
Allyssa chuckled. "No no, you just need to calm down and take everything with a grain of salt."
Terri sighed. "Yeah well, grain of salt or not, I got the feeling that Augustine was trying to hide something from me."
"How so?" asked Allyssa.
"Augustine said it pained her to have to tell me that I was a Vortex. I wonder what she meant by that."
Allyssa nodded. "You wouldn't know the story, I suppose I could tell you. It's not as though it's a secret. You aren't lucky to be a vortex, it's a curse. The last three vortexes did not live past their ninth birthdays, so consider yourself fortunate to have gone this long."
"So all this mana could kill me?"
"No, the reason Augustine was in pain to tell you that, is because she ..."
"She what? She gave birth to him? She raised him, she watched him barf on the Queen of England, what?"
"She had to kill him."
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