Jason's prediction of what Ernest would end up being famous for turned out to be wholly correct. The mage and murderer became the laughingstock of the city as it watched the proceedings of its trial from a very high booster seat. The tabloids dubbed it "Killer Kitty", and when one reporter tried petting it, Ernest nearly bit his hand off. Meanwhile, sports columnists lamented how the old man had besmirched athletics with his dishonest ways, and the families of his victims were horrified to learn what had happened—that those boys, whose personalities had seemed to suddenly change after a brief, inexplicable absence, had really just been vessels for Ernest's roving mind. Meanwhile, the people who had assisted with Jason's capture were nowhere to be found.

The prosecution refused to make a deal, since everything was in their favor, and Ernest was too pigheaded to plead guilty. Still, the cat was summarily executed—it was killed by lethal injection. Few mourned for it. The court awarded what remained of Ernest's wealth to the families of his victims, who, in turn, gave a little of it to Jason out of gratitude.

Jason himself became something of a celebrity. He was already well-known for being the only Terran to leave his native verse, and besides, he was the Adventurer of Gyeeds's adopted son. But this new adventure of his own made him more visible than ever before. He showed up on a few talk shows and soon enough, "Jason Blue" became a household name. (He had never felt particularly inclined to take Roland's surname.)

By now, Jason felt secure in his ability to speak Common. He took the fluency test and passed with flying colors, granting him the privilege of going to regular school.

It was, of course, only regular in the Gyeedian sense. To Jason, it seemed more like a university than an elementary school. For one thing, the class didn't stick together. Each student was placed in courses that were appropriate for their level of skill and talent, regardless of age. So, Jason ended up in Math 3, where the average age was eight, and in Science 5, where most of his peers were ten. Much to his surprise, he was placed in Common 8, where he was three years younger than the norm—an especially odd circumstance considering that he'd just begun learning the language a few months ago. Apparently, he had a gift for language, and his teachers appreciated it. Less flatteringly, he had to take History 1, where he was nearly twice as old as everybody else, because of his massive ignorance of non-Terran history. He learned quickly, though, and soon rose to the fourth level.

With a new academic environment came a new social one. While Jason had plenty of opportunities for making friends, he didn't take any of them. He felt that he had little in common with real Gyeedians, Roland notwithstanding.

Jason took courses in magic at a separate location. Before he was taught how to cast any spells, he finally got to learn a bit more about magic in general.

"First of all, let me make this absolutely clear." drawled the instructor, a tall, thin man with a nasal voice. His students were of various ages and all male. "We don't know what magic is. We don't know why it happens. We don't even really know what happens when it happens. It just happens. Humanity's appalling ignorance of everything else in the world pales in comparison to its total cluelessness regarding magic."

<Misanthrope!> thought Jason.

"That said, over time—the last century in particular—we have gained a rudimentary understanding of how we can use magic to help us.

"There are two basic kinds of magic: sorcery and alchemy. They're not set in stone; they can overlap at times. But generally speaking, sorcery creates effects that are short-lived or instantaneous, while alchemy changes reality in more permanent ways. Also, sorcery can affect living and nonliving things alike, while alchemy is usually limited to inanimate objects.

"There are five domains of magic: Emotion, Imagination, Memory, Will, and Thought. A domain is a philosophy of spellcasting, a general way in which to cast spells. Most spells, though they can be cast in any of the five domains, are easier for some domains than others. Most mages specialize in one domain, according to their tastes, talents, and natural inclinations. I myself, for instance, am a Memory mage. Each domain has its own strengths and weaknesses, and requires its own approach.

"Emotion mages alter reality with the sheer intensity of their feelings. The effects of their spells vary with their mood. Emotion mages have the least control over their own magic, but the latter can be great in both power and volume. They become stronger as they become more passionate.

"Imagination magic is a tricky business. It requires the caster to believe that what he wants to happen is happening, and thus impose his delusions upon the world. Imagination mages don't have much control, either, but they can have great creative power, and expend less reagent than the mages of any other domain. Most of the best Imagination mages start from a very young age—four or thereabouts—and teach themselves to retain the overactive imagination they are born with.

"Memory mages tend to be academically inclined. They memorize precise rituals which they must perform flawlessly in order to cast spells. They tend to have a limited repertoire, but since their spells have predictable effects and they don't find casting very draining, they're especially reliable.

"Will magic is the most straightforward way to cast spells—the caster simply applies mental brute force to effect what he wishes. Will mages can be very precise, and quite powerful as well. But casting spells in the Will domain is taxing. In a duel with a caster of any other domain, a Will mage must ration his energy, or his opponent will inevitably outlast him.

"Finally, Thought is the most difficult domain by far. A Thought mage must entirely think through each spell—he must decide and understand exactly what effect he wants to create, and he must predict what the consequences of casting a spell will be. All of this thinking takes time, so Thought mages can't cast spells spontaneously; they need plenty of preparation in order to do anything. But they have ultimate control over their spells, along with the potential to be more powerful than all of the other domains combined.

"So. The first thing we'll do, over the next few weeks, is figure out which domain is right for each of you."

Alas, Jason soon found this statement to be a bit too optimistic, in that it implied that there was a domain that was right for him. Apparently, this was not the case. He could get emotional, all right, but he couldn't channel his emotions into Emotion magic at all. His imagination was too tame for the Imagination domain. He could barely understand the complex rituals that a Memory mage had to perform, let alone memorize them. And however mighty his willpower might be when it came to restraining himself from overeating, it didn't affect reality itself enough to let him cast Will magic with any degree of competence.

That left Thought, and Jason was hoping beyond hope that this was were his talents lay. He was crushed to learn that it wasn't.

"It's odd." said the Thought teacher, a fat, intelligent man. "You have the right personality for a Thought mage, which is more than can be said for most boys. But you simply can't cast spells. You're just naturally magically inept." He shrugged. "I'm sorry, but it happens."

That didn't stop Jason from learning about magic academically. Poorly understood as it was, it had limited uses in the modern world. There were a few specific tasks, such as personal verseportation, that magic could accomplish much better or more efficiently than conventional alternatives. But for the most part, sorcery was best for fighting, and alchemy was best for creating magical objects.

Sorcery, in fact, had single-handedly changed the face of modern warfare. Before magic became widespread, ever since the popularization of firearms, war had been a matter of having bigger and better weapons. Few materials could stand up to a bullet, never mind a guided missile, so armor was always far behind armaments. Now, even a weak or inexperienced spellcaster of any domain could conjure up a Projectile Shield, a magical barrier that could absorb a few hundred magazines' worth of machine-gun fire. Similar, though less easily cast spells were available for countering small explosives. Consequently, firearms had become rather outmoded, and any soldier who wasn't in a heavily-armed and -armored war machine was better off being a tyro in magic than Annie Oakley. Even tank and plane pilots could benefit from a little magical training.

As for alchemy, although it couldn't turn lead into gold or resurrect the dead, it had its uses. Otherwise mundane objects could be enchanted in order to serve their purposes better: hammers could be made to "home in" on nails, and carbon-steel knives could be magically rustproofed. However, most reagents weren't cheap, so alchemists generally stuck to making objects with scientific or military applications. As with sorcery, the military applications turned out to be far more numerous. Thus the best known and possibly the most important products of alchemy were things that could make one a better soldier. Particularly popular were potions, which could convey temporary benefits such as the ability to go without sleep for a whole week, and jewelry, which served as convenient, lightweight vessels for powerful enchantments. I would give you a more comprehensive overview of the magical objects that existed except that, so far, alchemical products had resisted classification just as stubbornly as magic as a whole had resisted understanding.

But Jason just couldn't cast spells, so he dropped out of the magic course in a month.

During his life on Earth, Jason had never really followed politics. What would've been the point of it, if he hadn't been allowed to vote or run for office himself? As an Interdimensional Councilman, though, he was suddenly plunged into the heart of interdimensional politics.

He soon found himself feeling quite humble, and not just because his vote counted for so little. Trying to understand and play a part in the government of a nation was a daunting task; doing the same for a whole world of governments was tougher still, and dealing with the entire multiverse seemed nigh-impossible. Too often, Jason found himself totally in the dark about what all the other councilmen were talking about, even when he tried researching the topic beforehand. After all, most of them had been elected by the planet they represented on the basis of their competence. Only a handful of councilmen were in the same boat as Jason, in the sense that they were only there because their verse was yet to discover verseportation. None seemed to have quite as much trouble as he did.

Not to say that everything went right over his head. In fact, some of what he could understand was genuinely interesting. For example, though capital punishment was not very controversial among Gyeedians, many other verses (and their representatives) were strongly opposed to it. They tried to convince Gyeeds to drop it. It turned out, however, that trying to pressure Stanley Ironbone into changing his mind was like trying to pressure the multiverse into making two plus two equal five. Gyeeds's relationship to the IDC was analogous to the US's relationship to the UN—Stanley could afford to be stubborn and aggressive, because if anybody contradicted him, he could bring their economy to its knees. (He'd need his verse's approval to do something like that, of course, but he was pretty good at manipulating Gyeeds, too.) Hence, the popular joke:

Q: Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit?

A: Wherever Stanley Ironbone tells it to.