Metaworld Chronicles

by

Wutosama

Chapter 55 Poor Boys and Rich Girls

What kind of scene do you anticipate the most?
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Edited 01/01/2020 HAPPY NY! 

Tako, AKA Takahashi, stewed in a pool of his sweat.

First of all, he had not expected such a thick flock of stickybeaks to be present at his date with Gwen. A dozen folks he could anticipate, his mates, for example; but now the whole bloody town had shown up.

Secondly, his mate Jacko who was also his waiter, suddenly took ill, citing that he had a real pressing need to go to the local pool and drop off some kids.

Thirdly, the product in his hair was already liquifying. The stifling Outback heat had been made insufferable by the breathing of fifty-odd individuals crammed into a pub meant for no more than three dozen full-grown men and women, and that's discounting the gawkers sitting outside.

And yet, he couldn't possibly leave. Not unless he had a death wish. His only solace was his date was a beautiful sorceress with a beautiful face, striking green eyes, a waspish waist, and—

The pub fell silent.

Takahashi peered up to see the object of his affection descending from the second-floor; one hand gingerly placed upon the railing. At the sight of such loveliness, his mind turned blank, all thoughts fleeing with the rest of his wits.

The girl made her way toward him like a dream, her white legs appearing and disappearing in-between the folds of her dress. Takahashi could barely breathe.

Gwen's shoulder-length hair had been piled up, twisted into a voluminous bun behind her head, leaving a few loose strands to draw attention to her slender neck. Her Chinese-dress was itself a form-fitting one-piece that straddled her shoulders, tapering skin-tight around her waist and her bosoms.

Unsteadily, she descended, stalking carefully, riding on a pair of high and elfin pumps. When finally Gwen had arrived at the bottom floor, she was the tallest personage in the pub.

Like a graceful swan, his date floated amongst chuckling stickybeaks until she arrived at his table.

Tako held his breath, unsure of what to say that would make him appear any less of a love-smitten fool.

"He... Hello," he mouthed with great desperation, immediately regretting saying something so mundane. "You look lovely. Lovely. Just Lovely."

"It's good to see you too, Takahashi." The girl leaned in, lending him a cheek to peck. Tako tried to meet her halfway, but the girl was a giantess, and he felt like a Halfling. She would have to lean down to kiss him, giving the scene a far more comical air, like a young mother kissing a child.

Instead, she offered him a hand, one which Tako stared at with bewilderment.

"You look very handsome yourself, Takahashi." The girl withdrew herself.

"Thank you." He swallowed, wracking his brain, feeling as though his world was burning down around him. "Please— sit?"

Gwen sat, a little disappointed that Tako had failed every engagement other than pulling out her chair. Once her buttocks touched the slightly oily stool, she noted with mild distress that the Publican's seats were wooden and uncomfortable. Furthermore, the unfortunately high-riding nature of Debora's dress made her unnecessarily exposed.

Dismayed, she regarded her date and noted that he had a jacket which should do the trick. She could sit and placed it on her legs, covering the side slits so that she wouldn't accidentally moon the crowd.

"Takahashi." Gwen met the young man's swelling eyes. "Could I borrow your jacket?"

Tako immediately stripped off his jacket, pulling it over his head in the manner of stockmen removing their dusty garbs. When he handed it to Gwen, it was glistening with moisture.

Gwen bore it with grace and placed the jacket over her legs, feeling the clamminess resting against her exposed skin. Tako didn't seem to know what else to do with himself, and so he sat as well.

"How has your evening been?"

"Good."

"Have you recovered from the Land Shark?"

"Yep."

"Are you feeling alright?"

"Yeah."

The boy wasn't much of a conversationist either. Gwen scanned her long term memory for knowledge of the Outback, finding that neither of her lives had any interest in sheep shearing, cattle droving, or possessed knowledge of bush yarns.

They sat awkwardly for a minute until the Publican sent out his Missus, Shiela, to moonlight break the tension.

"What'll ya have, Love?" Shiela asked, creaking the floorboard with every step.

"What do you have Ma'am?" Gwen inquired politely.

"The Schnitzel here is excellent," Tako added quickly, feeling himself somewhat losing control of the situation. "Shiela is the best cook for miles around."

"Thanks, Sweetie." The Publican's wife winked at the jackaroo.

Gwen felt her stomach contract. A good schnitzel was just the ticket, for the whole afternoon, she had been play-acting as her friend's life-sized Barbie Gwen. Accessories purchased separately.

"Oi! Tako!"

The Publican, Bill disrupted her contemplation.

"Here!" The big man declared expansively, putting down four ice-cold longnecks before winking at Tako. "On the house!"

Gwen returned a polite smile.
She wasn't old enough to drink, but she could sure as hell down a schooner or two.

"I'll have the Schnitzel," she said to the Publican's wife, who beamed at her in turn. "Extra-large."

"I'll have the steak." Tako exhaled with relief.

"So." Tako appeared to have finally wrangled his brain. "What's life like in the city?"

Gwen eyed the beers and their ice-cold beads longingly.

"Busy, really busy" she replied. "I live with my friends in the dorm."

"Oh?" Tako was rather happy that he'd finally caught onto a conversation. "What's it like where you live? Fancy houses and green lawns?"

"Ha! We live pretty modestly." Gwen laughed. "I shared a room with my other friends Yue and Elvia; we're in a team together."

"That sounds awesome, do you have a name for your team?"

"Not yet, but we'll probably need one for the Inter-High later next year."

"Ah—" Tako nodded. "That's the fancy high school competition, right? They show it on the Vid-cast sometimes..."

Abruptly, Tako's face took on an ashen pallor.
Perspiring profusely, the boy opened and closed his mouth like a mudskipper.

"Is something wrong?" Gwen asked carefully. Had she said something to offend him? That was impossible; they were just talking about her high-school Spellcraft team.

Tako appeared as though he'd been Soul Drained by a Necromancer.

Suddenly, Gwen realised why Tako was now catatonic.

The poor sod had asked her out on a whim, lacking the knowledge that Gwen and Debora were still in high school. The misunderstanding was understandable. Certainly, Debora was more mature than any high schooler Gwen had never known, and she never saw herself as a real high schooler. Gwen had simply assumed that since Tako had asked her out with so much gusto, the young man should have known.

"Takahashi... did you not know I am a senior-high student?"

The young man looked like he was about to melt like cattle fat on a hot tin. His face had the texture of wax.

"Tako," Gwen lowered her voice. "Can you hear me?"

"Ern-HNMM—" Came the sound of a displeased grunt.

A very familiar grunt that Gwen recognised anywhere.
She turned from her seat and saw her Opa sitting in a dark corner of the second level, flanked by Tess and Mel, who was grinning widely and waving at her. Surya had seated himself strategically so that he wasn't visible when she had exited the room but was now painfully visible once he made his presence known.

FUCK.

It was now Gwen's turn to break into a cold sweat. How embarrassing, how infuriating it was that her Opa was watching her coo at some young man. Not only that, here sat a poor sob who had been so enamoured in his fantasies that he didn't even consider the age of the girl he was asking out.

"Gwen," Takahashi gulped. "I don't feel so good."

Gwen felt such compassion for the poor jackaroo. It was now clear to her that the world had conspired against him. The town was here to watch Tako pull a Mickey; his mates were out to have a lark, and Debs had probably known all along. That was why she had gotten her this ridiculous dress. That was why her friend was grinning like an idiot.

"I am sorry, Takahashi," Gwen apologised, leaning over and offering a hand of comfort.

Tako stared at her hand with an expression of horror. He didn't dare take it. Not with the town watching like a pack of hungry dingoes. He tried to move, almost sliding off his chair for the lack of strength in his legs. Gwen watched Tako's suffering. Wordlessly she returned his soaked jacket.

"Miss Mage," he apologised. "May I— may I go?"

Gwen nodded.

The entire pub watched as Tako beat his retreat, some shaking their heads, others laughing and exchanging a few notes under the table.

You bastards! Gwen fumed. You were betting on whether Tako would disgrace himself!

Now, she sat alone, feeling more embarrassed and miserable by the minute, all the more thanks to her pointlessly revealing attire.

Her Opa was smugly watching down from above, enjoying the show. For a second, Gwen wondered if she should throw a tantrum. A single command from her Opa could probably clear the pub, no question asked.

Gwen felt her stomach protest. She was still famished; she wanted her Schnitzel; she was ready to hammer the whole thing down just to feel better.

"What a shame." Debora joined her at the table. "All alone, sweetie? Can a girl join you?"

"That was needlessly cruel."

Debora pulled put a chair and made herself comfortable, her eyes licking her friend all over.

"What would make you think that?" She grinned mischievously.

The Publican returned with two plates. One with a steak swimming in pepper gravy and the other with a crumbed Schnitzel that hung over the side of the plate, steaming famously.

"Oh no, Tako didn't make it past ten minutes!" He groaned. "So much for the beer."

"What does that mean?" Gwen inquired.

"It's nothing, Miss." The Publican plated the food. "I had fifty riding on the fact that you'd at least finish your meal before Tako left."

Gwen felt her jaw muscles tighten. Was there anyone who wasn't in on the whole fiasco?

Bill, the Publican, audibly sighed.

"The missus made some pudding for ya," he added sadly. "I'll bring it out later."

"Thanks, Bill," Debora smiled at the old man brightly, watching the old man blush.

Debora dug into Tako's steak, twirling a bloody slice in the gravy before placing it in her mouth. "Mmm... medium rare, perfect."

Gwen cut into her Schnitzel and crammed a greasy fork-full into her mouth. Swallowing, she snatched one of the open bottles of beer and took a swig.

The malt was cold and refreshing, a perfect complement to the salty, fatty breadcrumbs.

Debora raised a beer.

"To us," she declared.

"To us," Gwen grumbled defeatedly, tapping Debora's bottle.

With a long pull, she chugged the rest of the tall neck.

Gwen returned to the Estate the next morning.

She had wanted a heart-to-heart with Takahashi, but the young man had taken on a long-ranging assignment droving cattle for the next week or so.

Debora laughed when she received the news, asking Gwen if she had a habit of driving men into the Wildlands.

"What were you thinking?" Tess had asked incredulously. "That boy would be in more trouble than he can shake a stick at if..."

"If?"

"Adult things happened."

"Well, it didn't," Gwen sulked. "But come on, you're not telling me Mages and NoMs don't associate at all, are you?"

"Not past high school, not at all," Mel interjected. "What would be the point? Where would such a romance go?"

"I don't know, for love, maybe?" Gwen said, then regretting retorting at all. Hearing herself, she felt stupid.

Her Opa's Apprentices broke into laughter.

"Oh, Gwen, honey! You're so precious."

"Not to sound like a prude, Gwen," Tess said seriously. "But girls with talents like yours don't marry poor Mages with a single School of Magic. An NoM? You'd be a fool."

Gwen felt Tess' advice resonate uncomfortably.

"Rich girls don't marry poor boys, Jay Gatsby. Haven't you heard?" She muttered silently to herself.

Certain fallacies of human societies, or so it seemed, was consistent across both space and time.

The next day, Debora left for an errand.

The acquisition of a mid-tier elemental Spirit meant that she had to be registered by the Tower. As a low-tier Transmuter, it was highly unusual for a student to possess so powerful a Sprite. The registration was a necessity, for though it was impossible to rob a Mage of their Spirit; it was possible to murder the owner so that a Conjurer can force the Spirit into a resonate Core, hoping that the Elemental choose survival over oblivion.

Thus registered, it meant that should such an incident occur, the entirety of the Oceanic Magedom would come down on the offender like the proverbial Mjölnir.

When she informed Henry of her decision, her Master commended her choice rather than berate her naivety.

"You will tread a difficult path," Henry had intoned with great gentleness. "One that could use more allies. Debora is a good girl, and with this, she would owe you for the rest of her life."

And with Debora gone, Gwen felt lost and lonely; she had spent the last week cheek to cheek with her friend, and now felt empty in her absence.

But, there was training to be done, and for a whole week, Gwen worked her self to the bone.

When Debora finally returned, she spoke wide-eyed and star-struck about conversing with Gwen's Master. She had also met Magister Walken, Debbie had revealed, another one of the Ten. Furthermore, several Maguses had enquired about taking her on as an Apprentice.

Additionally, Gwen's Master had given her Spirit the moniker of 'Sabulo' which meant Sand in the old tongue, making her its official owner.

Winningly, Debora showed off her new I.D Card:

Debora Jones
S.I.D: 0043544
Transmuter Tier: 3
Elemental Affinity: Earth (3 + 2)
Elemental Spirit — Sabulo
She was now as talented as Yue had been, if not more, a prospect that made Gwen a little antsy for her progress.

Currently, Yue was on her mysterious training journey with Alesia. How would she react if she returned from an Orange Zone after two months of survival only to find that her old rival had superseded her? Would Yue spontaneously combust?

Nonetheless, with Debora returned to the fold, her halcyon days resumed. Life returned to its old routine, with group training, individual training, physical training, mana exercises, and hours of meditation.

Midway, Debora's parents had come to visit, bowing and scraping to Surya and taking Gwen's hand with tears in their eyes, thanking her for changing their daughter's life. Gwen wasn't sure what her friend had told her folks, but was nevertheless embarrassed by their supplication.

And so, the girls' December ticked down, blending into one long stretch, until Gwen received a Message while out training in the woods.

Ding!

"I am back!"

"Evee! Oh My God! I missed you so much!" Her thrilling voice drove the birds from the trees.

"Gwennie!" Elvia' shrieking voice returned from the Message Device.

"When did you get back?"

"Just now, I am in Kensington. The ship took forever!"

"How was it?" Gwen asked.

"It was so boring— there was nothing to do but eat buffets. I think I put on at least two kilos..."

Gwen laughed. She and Debs likely lost some weight, especially after her Caliban-wrangling in the woods, trying to get a feel for her vitality expenditure.

"No worries. You'll work it off in no time! When can we meet up? I am at Opa's."

"That's why I am calling you Gwen! I want to ask you if you are doing anything for Xmas."

Gwen scanned her internal itinerary. There was nothing as far as she could recall. Her Opa had said that he wasn't one for the ceremonial celebrations of the Catholic Chuch.

"I should be free," she confirmed. "What's up?"

"My family's having a Xmas bash at the house, and mum wants to invite all of my friends."

"That sounds wonderful," Gwen replied earnestly. She hasn't had a Christmas party forever. Elvia's party would be a wonderful and welcome experience.

"There's going to be dozens of strangers there, and I would love it if you could come and keep me company," Elvia's begging voice was enough to melt her heart.

"I'll be there!" Gwen declared imperiously.

Elvia replied with halleluja.

"Did you manage to contact Yue?"

"Nothing yet, not even with my dad's Message Device. He says Yue must be in an Orange Zone because that's where we don't have any Divination Tower set up."

"Alright." Gwen hoped Yue would receive the Message in time. A Christmas reunion would be just the thing. "Say, I am with Debora at the moment since she's interning under Opa, do you mind if I bring her alone?"

"D-Debbie?" Elvia gasped. However, the girl was quick to repair her faux pas. "Of course! I'd love to have Debbie along!"

Gwen laughed. Elvia was the best.

"Great. See you in three days!"

"See ya."

The Message ended.

Three days until Christmas, Gwen punched the air.

If she could recall, Elvia's manor was on the North Shore, up near Avalon. From the Hunters, she would have to leave at sunrise to arrive at noon. Likewise, she had to tell her Opa that she'd have to spend the night at Elvia's, as returning home after midnight would be impossible.

Closing her eyes, she imagined Elvia in a white dress.

Suddenly, her heart was aflutter.

Christmas couldn't come soon enough!

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Wutosama

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