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At least 1 a week, min 6K + master crafted
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A note from Wutosama



Even in Gwen's old world, the Pearl of the Orient was a city of outlandish origins.

The name of the city itself means "the town upon the sea". However, the indigenous fishermen who named it couldn't have imagined that it would become the single most significant trading city in Asia Major. Unlike China's other trade hubs, it was the Opium Wars that gave bloody birth to the city's foundations, forcefully opening the sleepy fishing village at the tip of the Yangzi delta to international trade.

The following decades tumultuous time for Shanghai; a city carved up into autonomous concessions administered by the British, French, and Americans, all beyond the withered reach of the failing Qing Dynasty. Concurrently, each colonial presence brought its particular flavour, making the city an eclectic mecca of cultures.

By the 1930s, Shanghai was a melting pot, a cosmopolitan metropolis, taking on its own identity, attracting natives and foreigners alike. In its heyday, the city upon the Sea was the place to be— it had the best art, the most fabulous architecture, and the most bustling trade in Asia. The city had the sleaziest dance halls, the most lascivious brothels, the glitziest restaurants, the most expensive international clubs, including the world's single longest bar. Shanghai was a city of sin that catered to every whim of the rich and powerful; even as abject poverty ran alongside the affluent, many of the underclasses, primarily Chinese, provided the cheap labour that kept the city running.

The Mageocracy called it the Paris of the East.

Then began the Sino conflict of WWII.

But this world, with its magic and monsters, had never seen the Second World War.

Or at least that's what Gwen had learned in the discourse of Blackwattle's limited history classes.

In this world, The Second World War was man against the Beast Tide in the spring of '71, awakened by the awakening of an ancient Dragon in central Europe that threw man's unprepared realm into anarchy. In the aftermath, borders were redrawn, countries shrunk by halves, cities became isolated, and the known world splintered into zones, from the inhabitable death-worlds of the Black Zones to the contested, resource-rich Green Zones.

Gwen wondered if she would at all recognise the sprawling metropolis they were about to enter.

She did not.

That much was self-evident the moment they entered the orbital highway. In Gwen's old reality, Shanghai was already one of the most developed cities in the world. In this alter-existence, Shanghai was far more extensive— a sprawling mass of skyscrapers that resembled pyramidal hive-cities, with its epicentre congealing into a solid wall of superstructures towering well over the rest of the city.

As Gwen and Jun cruised through the Second Orbital-Loop, they came face to face with walls of high rise apartments, identical fabrications in clumps of a dozen or more, sprouting from the flat earth like bamboo after the spring rain. There were so many of them, gleaming wetly in grey, ochre, lime and off-white, that they blotted out the sun as the highway ran its circumference.

"Those are NoM housings." Her uncle pointed out. "Pretty good, actually, despite how they look. There are small parks below the apartments, underground shopping malls too. Vivacious places, good food, if you don't mind the NoM stuff. When they clump, we called it a District. Each one has an assigned number."

"Where do the Mages live?" Gwen asked. If there was a Second Orbital Loop, was there a first? And a third and fourth? Did the real estate determine the social strata of those living in Shanghai?

"Here and there, depending on your profession," her uncle replied. "We're going to the new district in the Third Orbital Loop, where members of the Party have private residences."

Gwen turned to the cityscape, taking in the vista of the sprawling city, splayed like an etherised patient under a sweltering pseudo-summer brought by the mana-smog.

"Can you tell me about Dad?" she asked when they passed under a series of Illusion-enchanted billboards dozens of meters across.

One displayed a three-dimensional illusion depicting a kind, middle-aged gent with a benevolent, Buddha-like gaze, looking out over the highway with infinite patience. A series of Chinese characters next to his face translated to, "Premier Wen implores you to live in harmony and civic responsibility," in large, red pictograms.

In the next second, just before they passed it, the image transitioned into that of a gorgeous blond with effeminate, elfin features, hair blowing out into the wind. The slogan for this one read, "Head and Shoulders: Who says gorgeous, dandruff-free hair can't smell gorgeous?"

"About Hai?" Jun considered her question once Gwen peeled her eyes from the adverts. "Alright, shoot."

"Okay," Gwen gathered her thoughts. "Who did Dad murder? WHOA!"

The sudden inertia caused Gwen to lurched forward as Jun swerved the car onto the shoulder lane.

"He did what now?" Jun turned toward her, making Gwen breakout in a terrific cold sweat.

Curiously, the cars that screeched and braked did not honk. Instead, they placidly drove by with caution and politeness.

"We're on military plates," her uncle explained, catching Gwen's puzzlement. "So, tell me again."

"There was this time in Singapore when I pushed Morye about why he wanted to leave China, a tier 1 city, and he said that he 'killed' someone he shouldn't have."


"That's it; he refused to say anything else after."

Jun scratched his goatee.


Her uncle's face momentarily lit up with an epiphanic comprehension. "Wow, Hai, you weasel."

"Uncle?" Gwen's felt her curiosity well whetted.

"Well, I think I know what your father meant. It's Hai, by the way, don't let grandfather hear you use his alias. In our culture, names have a peculiar inference, and it is disrespectful to reject a name bestowed by the ancestors."

Gwen dipped her chin in acknowledgement. She wondered if the ancestors would accept her foreign name or if she would have to acquire a new one. In her old world, she had Asian colleagues who had two names, one for public and another for private.

"So, about my father?"

"I've only a hypothesis," Jun replied after a moment of hesitation. "At any rate, out of respect for Hai, I think he should be the one to tell it."

Resuming the journey, their Jeep turned from the six-lane orbital highway onto an adjoining sky bridge. An overhead sign indicated an off-ramp that connected to the Third Outer Loop. Jun slid the wheel through his hands and allowed the car to coast down the spiralling ramp. The mana-engine thrummed as the flywheel picked up the momentum, holding the Jeep's velocity at a steady cruise.

The Jeep then decelerated as it entered a residential zone, where the bare concrete of the freeway gave way to rows of giant cypress lining both sides of a broad, two-lane avenue.

Another half a kilometre passed before their Jeep turned into a parkland gated community. A plaque in Chinese read "Hamlet of the Plum Blossoms."

"We're here," Jun announced.

The siheyuan's entrance announced a four-section town-house complex.

Alright, Gwen took a deep breath. Time to meet her gran-maker.

Here was the family that she had wholly neglected in her previous life. There were no expectations here, no clues, nothing to indicate their likes and dislikes. She was a stranger in a strange land, held captive by powers beyond her ken.

Jun gave her a confident smile and stepped in; Gwen steeled her spine and followed.

The courtyard was erected in the old Chinese style, though constructed with new composite materials. The square, as Gwen entered, was an open-air atrium-garden split toward four pathways; one toward the exit lobby, the other three leading toward an open communal hall, the bedrooms, and an extensive training ground.

It was the communal hall that now solemnly awaited them.

Gwen wetted her lips and stepped in. She felt shaken up, not unlike the time she had to propose a project to the board at McKinsey's for her first internship.

The hall itself was a two-storey building with a vaulted ceiling held up by two massive beams painted in deep scarlet, richly lacquered and edged with dusky gold. A set of Chinese characters prefaced the plaque hanging overhead with many pictographic characters, whose meaning her Ioun Stone mangled.

"Country... justice..." the other two words remained cryptic.

Gwen felt as though she travelled back in time into a period setpiece.

A faded crimson rug, two dozen meters in length, led her eyes toward the centre of the spacious chamber, where two dark mahogany chairs sat side by side with a side table between them. Flanking the seats were four more sets of smaller chairs, four on each side, lining either side of the carpet runner.

Currently, only one of the seats remained occupied.

To Gwen's complete and utter surprise, the matriarch was a foreign-looking woman with flowing silver hair that framed her petite face, possessing a much younger appearance than her bearing suggested. Her skin glowed with near-supernatural vitality, radiating a halo of kindness and benignity.

The woman, she presumed, would be her "Grandmother".

"Welcome, Granddaughter. My name is Klavdiya."

Her grandmother's voice was like gently flowing water.

"Grandmother!" Gwen paced across the carpet quickly.

When she came within speaking distance, Gwen realised she had no idea what to do. She didn't know any Chinese greetings. Was there a protocol to follow, some ritual to perform? Hopefully, she needn't kowtow, at least not in public.

In the end, she curtsied like she'd done in Sydney for the senior Mages and her instructors.

"That's sweet, dear, though a bow would have sufficed." Her grandmother observed; the old woman's expression was mystical and mysterious.

Their eyes met.

Klavdiya possessed a heart-shaped face familiar to herself, sharing the same straight nose, the same pursed lips, the same correspondingly high cheekbones. Unlike herself, Klavdiya had a thick head of silvery-flaxen tresses that bespoke of her age even as her face gave off a youthful exuberance.

Gwen had always wondered why she didn't particularly resemble her father or mother - though she did have her mother's eyes - and now the mystery was solved. It was her grandmother whose features she had inherited.

"You may call me Nainai, or grandmother, or babushka, though 'babulya' certainly wouldn't be amiss should the fancy catch you." Her grandmother intoned with a voice full of quiet wisdom.

Babulya, it is then, Gwen told herself. She liked how the word rolled off the tongue with its triple-tap of syllables.

Her babulya then stepped off the impressively sized mahogany chair and confidently sauntered toward Gwen, who felt indecisively welded to the spot by a mess of uncertain emotions.

To Gwen's shock, despite her presence, her babulya was barely five-foot-two. She must have gotten her height from her mother's side.

Her babulya wore a comfortable smock shaped from a simple tunic paired with an ankle-length skirt, capped off with a pair of dark cotton walking flats. More strikingly, despite babulya's venerable age, her spine was ramrod straight; her shoulder squared and poised, her chin held high— though that may be because Klavdiya was looking up toward Gwen's face.

Then she opened her arms and embraced Gwen at the waist.

Gwen lowered herself by a head's height so that their faces could meet, welcoming the cuddle with all her heart.

Klavdiya gave Gwen a hearty peck on both cheeks.

"Finally! A granddaughter as tall as the girls I used to know from the mother country!" Her babulya exclaimed excitedly, patting Gwen's head gingerly and touching her face and shoulders. "Good bones too, strong and well-formed. Oh, I think you have a bit of growing left in you yet!"

When Klavdiya's hand found its way under her chin to extract the amulet hanging there, Gwen felt a sudden quickening of her pulse.

"You have the Kirin?" Her babulya seemed startled by the find.

"I do," Gwen replied, sliding a hand between her blouse and removing the jade pendant for Klavdiya's inspection.

"No need to give it back." Her babulya patted the space between her chest. "It's yours— if Hai had given it. It will be of great benefit to you in the future."

Gwen carefully slipped the amulet back between her bosoms, where it sat snugly, diffusing its gentle warmth.

"So, let's take a good gander at you." Klavdiya pulled herself back, gently pinning Gwen's arms to her waist.

She still couldn't believe how young her grandmother looked. After all, her father was thirty-seven, meaning that at best, her Klavdiya was in her mid-fifties, an impressive feat for a woman with three children and four grandchildren.

"Detect Magic!"

Babulya's eyes glowed with the magic of Divination, mixed in with a radiant aura of positive energy that formed a visible halo over her temple.

Gwen felt a wave of warmth emit from her babulya's hands, washing over her Astral Body. It was a familiar feeling she had known many times before from another diminutive angel.

"You're… a healer?" Gwen blurted out. Who'd have thought that her babulya was a healer of all things? From the way Guo had behaved, Gwen had imagined that either Klavdiya was a femme fatale of unfathomable power or a bronze-faced babushka with an iron palm.

"You've got quite a few hidden injuries there, my dear granddaughter," her grandmother frowned. "The second-rate healers of the tier 2 cities are not trained to deal with magical injuries fully, and from the looks of it, you have taken quite a beating. There are parts of your body that have sustained extensive regeneration, but it doesn't appear to have meshed well with your pre-existing flesh."

Gwen ran a hand over her chest, across her shoulders, then over her abdomen. She had indeed felt a little unused to the youthfulness of her new body, as though parts of her were slightly out of sync.

"But now that you are here, we can heal you." Klavdiya smiled gently, bringing a gentle hand to meet Gwen's own. "Come, come, sit with me."

She directed Gwen toward a chair adjacent to her own.

Beside them, Jun took an opposite seat.

"You must have suffered much while in the Frontier." Klavdiya clicked her tongue a few times to drive the point home. "Sydney is not a bad city by any means, but the constant exposure to the Mermen must have taken a terrible toll."

"It was alright, Babulya," Gwen replied carefully. "I have friends there who are faithful and loyal, as well as mentors who helped me out during the year and a half since I had Awakened."

"Oh, I am sure." Her grandmother gently patted Gwen's hand. Klavdiya had almond eyes that were amber flecked with bits of sunburst yellow. Gwen wondered if that was her babulya's natural colour or if years of training with Positive Energy had altered her irises, just as the Lightning Element added to the emerald of her eyes.

Feeling the unadulterated amiability radiating from her grandmother, Gwen sensed the time had come for her to appeal.

"Babulya," Gwen inquired carefully, holding steady her tone and cadence. "Do you think it is at all possible that grandfather will let me return to Sydney?"

Her babulya smiled.

"Would you like me to be honest with you, my dear?"

"Yes, Babulya."

"Alright." Her grandmother held her hand. "In a moment, your grandfather will come home—"

At the mention of Guo, Gwen's chest hurt, constricting her diaphragm with an acidic twist.

"—and then we are going to have a banquet. You are then going to meet the rest of the family."

Gwen nodded demurely, unthawing herself through force of will.

"After that, you, me, Grandfather and Jun, we are going to sit down, right here, and we are going to have a nice, long conversation..."

Gwen acknowledged her second chance.

When her father had told Gwen about her paternal family, Gwen had fantasised about meeting them. It was a strange and giddy sensation to have another chance at reliving a life that she'd neglected a lifetime ago. As much as she had to remind herself that she was roughly abducted and brought into the home as one under house arrest, she was still appreciative that such an opportunity existed at all. It was a silver lining playbook sort of thing.

Perhaps, Gwen thought to herself, she should think of her father's unwitting error as an accidental accelerant that pushed forward her timetable. That way, her bitter pill was easier to swallow.

An extended family.
What a strange thing to find later in life.

"Alright, Babulya." Gwen squeezed her grandmother's hands. "I'll tell you everything I can."

"Such a good child." Her babulya had a twinkle in her eye that Gwen recognised. It was a look of sly triumph.

Were her grandparents playing a bad cop, good cop routine? Gwen wondered. It didn't matter. If she were going to commit to the path ahead, there would be no room for lingering regrets, at least not with her grandfather's bloodhound's nose for conspiracy.

As Gwen played with potential scenarios in her head, she became struck by a delightfully wicked thought.

What if she told Grandfather and the MSS about Elizabeth?

The number of people who knew the truth could be counted on one hand. What if Gwen told them about Elizabeth, her powers, what she had done in Sydney, and sold her worst enemy for Contribution Credits? She didn't have to inform the entire truth; of course, her Master's many acts of misplaced mercy would be omitted, and Elizabeth Winsted Sobel would simply be a psychotic rogue Mage returned from the dead to wreak havoc upon a man who had almost rid the world of her taint. Wouldn't it be fun to sic a beautiful little Interpol warrant on that nasty woman? It would perhaps flush her out from hiding, where Gunther and Alesia would be waiting for her.

On that same note, Gwen's mind raced. What did the tier 1 cities know of the Void Element? Indeed, if the bloodline of Song practised the power of Salt, they would know plenty about the dangers of utilising Quasi-negative Elements. If her father couldn't help her, maybe her grandfather could? She could finally share with someone her worries and fears about Caliban's powers, perhaps receive some guidance in mitigating its effects.

Even if they refused to take her in, perhaps they could give her a hand.

Her grandfather was a stone-faced spymaster, but what of her babulya? Perhaps uncle Jun or even her yet unseen aunt? Hell, if her father was willing to return to the fold, maybe she could take advantage of that? Beggars couldn't be choosers, especially if she desired to see her friends again.

There was most definitely a play she could execute here.

"Gwen?" Her babulya tapped Gwen's hand as the poor girl appeared to have drifted off into space after she had announced Guo's imminent arrival. "Don't worry about your grandfather. He's an old softy once you get past the spiky exterior. Think of him as a Horn-back Pangolin. There's nothing to fear."

"Of course, Babulya, I was just thinking, that's all."

"I am sure you were, dear." Babulya looked across the courtyard, toward the gate. "Why don't you go and get changed? Give him a fresh, new impression. I've prepared something suitable for you in the guest room. It would do you both good to not remind him of the Sky-Prison."

"I will, Babulya," Gwen replied, turning to look at Jun.

"This side." Jun lead her away. "I'll show you to your room."

My room. Gwen masticated the words carefully in her mouth. It looks like she was in for the long haul. If only they would let her contact Elvia or Yue, maybe even Gunther.

Her 'room' was surprisingly situated not on the family's side of the siheyuan but in the East Wing, next to the Training Hall. It was a semi-detached single with a small closet, a bed and a bedside table. The room had no ensuite, for the bathrooms were adjacent, just inside the adjoining training hall. These were public bathrooms, but so long as the building remained unoccupied, Gwen would have her privacy. From the looks of it, the abode used to house instructors when they stayed to tutor the members of the household.

More than anything, its location was a telltale sign of her current position within the house's hierarchy. Not quite in the family, not quite out— just close enough to be within hand's reach, but kept far away enough to be disposable. Her grandmother may play the simpering babulya, but her intentions were measured and precise. She was a woman who thought a dozen steps ahead, the Healer-wife of a spymaster.

Having inspected her new home, Gwen relaxed. Now that their respective positions were transparent, it made her calmer.

"Be out soon."

Jun left Gwen at the door and went to oversee the banquet.

Gwen found a mixed East-West ensemble within the closet, a one-piece, knee-length blue skirt with a cheongsam blouse for the upper body, embroidered with a Ming-vase filigree.

Gwen slipped the dress overhead and clasped its butterfly knot buttons. Just as she was beginning to think it was too large, the gown shifted. The effect was so startling that Gwen yelped as the fabric tapered to her torso.

She had to do a doubletake in the mirror to confirm that the dress had indeed resized itself.

This mandarin dress was a miracle. What an excellent Enchantment! She marvelled. O brave new world that has such magic in it!

She materialised a brush and smoothed out her hair, wrangling her mane into an oriental-looking coiffure, a cute little sideburn that she pinned down with several wire clips.

For shoes, she brought out her lucky, veteran Mary-Janes. Gwen promised herself that if she had a chance, she would get them enchanted with a self-cleaning, self-polishing effect, for she had grown emotionally attached to the pair of shoes that had seen her through thick and thin.

The overall effect was better than she had anticipated.

The form-fitted cheongsam suited her well. She could be gracing the silver screen and not seem a single frame out of place.

Right. Gwen thought to herself. Round two.


To her surprise, her father had arrived.

He was healed and attired in a military jacket with matching olive pants. It was such a rare sight. The military outfit suited him. It made Morye look almost respectable.

"Wow, you're out already?" Her father was surprised to see her too. "I guess we both should thank your grandmother, eh? Babulya!"

Babulya shot him an expression that was at once scalding and tender.

"Are you… alright?" Gwen approached her father, touching his face here and there.

"Hey, HEY! That tickles, don't!" He protested loudly, embarrassed to be fussed over by his daughter in front of his family. Gwen had never seen her father like this before, so out of his element, so agitated and disturbed. It was fun.

There was a loud cough.

Guo Song, patriarch of the clan, dressed in a crisp military uniform, made his presence behind her father.

"Grandfather." Gwen bowed deeply. Jun had taken her aside earlier and taught her how to do a Chinese greeting properly.

"Mm," her grandfather grunted, looking over Gwen with a perspicacious gaze that acknowledged improvement in her mannerisms. "Let's get started. I am starving."

"Not waiting for Tao and Mina?" Jun inquired. "We need to wait for Nen as well; she's likely trying to wrangle them."

"They can be late!" Her grandfather blew two jets of disgruntled air from his nostrils and began to move.

"Right, off we go then to the banquet hall!" Jun changed his tone as soon as Guo made a sour face. "Gwen, come with me."

Within the main compound, in the open room cleared for the occasion, a giant banquet table sat, kitted for eight.

Her grandfather, Guo.
Her babulya, Klavdiya.
Her uncle, Jun.
Her father, Hai.
And three empty chairs.

The NoM servants came and went like a stream of bees, though Gwen was flummoxed to see them all in military outfits.

Was this another aspect of how NoMs lived in a tier 1 city, or was it a uniquely Chinese thing? There were so many of them, these servants, a dozen in all, who stood to attention behind the family as they each took their seats.

Gwen waited until all of the others had seated before taking a seat herself.

The food presented in front of her was decidedly beyond the ken of her limited vocabulary. Of all the dishes, a dozen in all, she could only recognise the pancakes as the famous Peking Duck. As for the others, she couldn't begin to guess.

Beside her, Morye sat miserably, looking up at the ceiling wistfully, hoping he could be somewhere else, far away.

Jun sat opposite the table, grinning at his elder brother with an ebullient expression, bathing in Morye's misery.

Grandfather sat with his eyes closed as if in meditation, and grandmother fussed over the temperature of the oolong tea.

"Hungry?" her uncle asked, watching Gwen's lips wetly salivating. He knew that she must be starving, but no one dared to eat without her grandfather touching the first dish.

Gwen shook her head, but her wetly desperate eyes were terrible liars.

"What's that?" Gwen indicated to a dish. "Ah, an old favourite— the palm of the Snow Bear, cooked with roe of the Yangzi-Sturgeon."


"Oh, that one? Ah yes, this one is called the Golden Burning Brain."

Gwen's eyes grew wide.

"No! You silly goose, not 'brain', its made from bean curd simmered in a soup of Wildland pheasant, giblet of Mandarine Duck, and stewed with the Hooked-clawed Cock."

"That sounds expensive..."

"Don't fret, if you're disappointed that there's no brain, that right over there—" her uncle pointed with his chin as well toward a grey mass sitting in a creamy broth. "The brain of the Gibbon Shark, cooked two way in yin-yang soup. Be sure to take a big bowl later."

Amazingly, her Void-hunger began to fade. She pointed to something that looked like frogspawn in pastry. "And that thing?"

"That's just a regular egg tart; the wild vanilla seeds are rather large this year."

She could eat that. Gwen thought to herself. Her eyes moved over to a bowl of clear jelly.

"Good choice. That one is a family favourite!"

"Is it coconut jelly?

"What, no! That's the nest of the four-winged swallow, harvested fresh from a coastal Black Zone!"

"You guys eat nests?"

"It's not a nest," her father answered for her. "It's swallow."

"The what?"

"The SPIT of the swallow." Her father grinned at her.

Gwen sighed.
Egg tart it is.

They waited for a few more minutes before finally, a growing clamour heralded the arrival of their final guests.

Nen came through the door first, bowing and apologising for her tardiness. It wasn't hard to recognise her aunt because she looked just like Klavdiya, having the same face and mannerisms. Despite their similarity, however, there remained a telling difference between them. Nen lacked her babulya's dignified air of supreme competence that Klavdiya possessed. More so, watching Nen smiling blithely as her grandfather seethed gave Gwen the impression that her aunt may be a bit of a ditz.

The following figure to come through the door was yet another alter-ego of Klavdiya's face, this time more distinctly Asian, complete with warm black hair. Where babulya had the amber, almond eyes of the Eastern Europeans, this girl, who Gwen would presume to be 'Mina', had dark, obsidian orbs like their grandfather, giving her a doll-like appearance that suited her expensive clothes. Their eyes met, and immediately Gwen felt an unbidden sense of hostility. She followed Mina's gaze until it landed on her mandarin dress.

Ah. Gwen understood immediately; she was well-learned in the art of reading men and women. Mina must have coveted the dress, and now a lovely misunderstanding was upon them. Unlike Nen or Klavidya, Gwen couldn't tell Mina's age. For all she knew, she may be anywhere from fourteen to twenty-four. Goodness, Gwen thought to herself. What dangers must lie in this world for the men and women who wished to woo their healers!

Then came a strange absence.

The silence was a jarring lull in the bustle of the moment, where just a second ago, two women had burst through the doorway like blooming, noisy flowers.

"Tao!" Guo's command cracked the air like a bullwhip.

Slowly, "Tao" came through the partitioned door.

Gwen's eyes almost popped out of her sockets.

If she'd been eating the tarts, she would have gobbed the table like a spitting, four-winged swallow.

Gingerly, her cousin walked across the threshold, lifting one leg above the other.

ARE THOSE DROP-CROTCH LOW-SAG JEANS? The spectacle assailed her as though someone had king-punched her in the brain. The visual stimulus that assaulted her eyes was beyond belief.

What was she seeing? Was she was still in China?

With a stooped gait, Tao, her cousin, just walked in like someone from a 2010 hip-hop video with the prefix 'Lil' something. Unlike Nen or Mina, the boy wore ankle-height Nike sneakers in a blinding shade of white, low-rise jeans, two overlapping tee-shirts, one white and the other black, and a baseball cap too big for his head, worn slightly askew.

He also had a black eye.

All of Gwen's worries melted. There was nothing, no abduction, no threat of Room 101, that could top the absurdity of this moment.

Is this real life?
Or is this fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality?

From the door, cousin Tao looked up.

There must have been a sequence of genes missing somewhere, lost in the translation of generations. Tao had a face that looked like a man had mated with a surprised squirrel, creating a gaunt, skull-shaped head with deeply sunken sockets, from within which two startled looking amber orbs sat.

To Gwen's surprise, Tao's eyes did not register Morye, his long-lost uncle of many years, but instead fell upon herself.

The boy's face lit up like a man who'd suddenly discovered fire.

"Yo wassup," he said, swinging his head back and forth, bobbing in Gwen's general direction. "Who's the hoe? She looks hella fresh."

Gwen's world imploded.
It was too much.
She couldn't hold back.
If she had to hold back her laughter now, she would die.

A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref :: 

Volume 1 Amazon (US) the book is in all markets as well.
Volume 2 Amazon (US) the book is in all markets as well.
V1 Google Play, iBook, Kobo, Nook and Playster Link
V2 Google Play, iBook, Kobo, Nook and Playster Link

Paper back in near future


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About the author


Bio: I write on the phone and edit at home. Times are tough!

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