A pronounced 'donk!' resounded around the empty training hall.
“Urrgh! My head’s fallen into the Elemental Plane of Magma.” Gwen slumped her head against the table.
In front of her, spread across the entire two-meter pane, sat a chaotic spread of pamphlets, a dozen course guides, and an old Vid-Cast projector with a collection of Capture Crystals on the history of the Universities in Shanghai.
Gwen's temple throbbed. Maybe it was the Divination leaking, but every time she tried to map out her next three to four years, she felt a tingling chill shooting up her spine. A warning sign, sure, Gwen pondered. But there was a reward in risk, right?
After two dozen combinations of various courses at various Universities, Gwen felt as though she'd banged her head against a wall repeatedly.
Circumstances were too different here for her to roadmap a five-year plan.
In Australia, when a senior student completed the High School Course and received their Australian Tertiary Academic Rank, they were typically faced with four to five choices jointly distributed around their score.
In the old Australia, a 99.95% percentile band allowed for entry into Law and Medicine.
In new Sydney, where Mermen still lurked in the flooded sewers, the percentile band required for entrance into the top universities was likewise in the single digits.
Under Henry's tutelage, Gwen had never doubted her eligibility for a spot at the table of the elites. Likewise, Gwen hadn't given much thought to the concept of course selection for two reasons. One, her Master knew far better than herself what course would suit her talent. Two, there wasn't much of a choice in the Frontier.
The staple for tertiary Spellcraft essentially ran its course with Advanced Spellcraft for Mages interested in Arcane theory and the creation of Signature spells, offering training for Incantations between tier 4 - 7. More militant minded Mages could furthermore partake in the Combat Mage curriculum, a university staple, taken in conjunction with one’s Mandatory Military Service, offering Spellcraft training for Mages seeking permanent employment with the Frontier Military.
And that was it.
There were subtle offshoots, sub-schools, specialisations in Schools of Magic, but in so far as coursework was concerned, Gwen had run her course.
The other Colleges attached to the Universities catered only for career specialists such as Spellcraft Engineering, a course for Abjurers and Transmuters seeking to enter the construction, civil architecture and Shielding development. There was Advanced Crafting for those wishing to delve into the creation of Magic Items, while rarer courses like Mechatronics and Artifice are taken under state-sanctioned Masters rather than as a public course.
Then there was General Courses as well, completed as a part of the Mage's Spellcraft training. The course accepted both Mages and NoMs, offering a selection of core skills such as accounting, leadership, appraisal, creature husbandry, agriculture, geography and more frivolous content such as literature, music, and the arts. Additional content was taught not by the Universities themselves, but by individuals attached to universities such as the Ordo Apothecarum in Sydney University.
But as the wise, Plane-hopping young Dorothy Gale once said to Toto, 'We're not in Kansas anymore.'
The problem that now assailed Gwen was the enviable matter of choosing a University, and selecting a course. Unlike the highly censored coursework of the Frontier, taught on a need-to-know basis, Shanghai’s elite Universities possessed a world-class cohort that required literacy with complementary non-magical knowledge.
From her half-day of research, Gwen had figured out the general scope of what lay ahead.
First Year was a general induction course, featuring six mandatory Spellcraft topics and two General study subjects, based upon recommendations made by a senior advisor.
Second Year is when the students are required to pick specialisations in their Schools of Magic and engage in specific fields of study. A Transmuter, for instance, could select Advanced Construction in Material Science. An Evoker could choose Energy Manipulation and Spell Shaping, and an Illusionist would have the choice of Media and Communication or Intermediate Illusions, and so on.
In their third year, students gained the opportunity to study under Magisters or renowned Specialists in their field. Typically, this was when students began to make a name for themselves, taking on the role of apprentices, invent Signature Spells, compose research papers on Arcane Lore, discover new species of Magical Creatures or document novel ways to kill and harvest existing ones.
Post Graduate courses were also available to students wishing to stay on with the faculty and engage in extended research, at which point they would be judged by the University and the Academic Board for potential, penultimately receiving a stipend for contributions to Advancing Spellcraft. Petra had stated that her Path lay in this direction, wishing to become a scholar of the arcane arts instead of serving in the Military or inundating herself with Tower politics.
Additionally, Gwen finally understood the significance of the title of Meister.
A Meister was a Magister, but not all Magister could become a Meister. It was because a Meister was a Mage that had contributed significant advancement to Spellcraft, and whose work benefited all of Magedom. Claude Van Saint, the famous healer who pioneered modern magical medicine, is a Meister. Philo R. Farnsworth, the man responsible for proving that Illusions may exist as a form of media stored in Capture Crystal, is a Meister. As powerful as Henry Kilroy had been, he was still an administrator, a Combat Mage, and a War Hero, but not so a Meister.
She also managed to finally clear up several misnomers she had acquired while on the Frontier.
Neophytes and Acolytes were the colloquial names for beginner Mages. The moniker of Mage, or Senior Mage, was in the Tier 1 Cities given to those with mastery over at least one school of magic, meaning access to spells over tier 4.
A Magus was someone who has gained multiple Schools of Magic through talent or laborious study, but to be called a Magus in public, the Mage must undergo examination within a Tower.
Likewise, a Magister was a peer-reviewed, publically sanctioned Magic Caster. Unlike the moniker of Magus, Magister is a title that comes with the weight of public service and responsibility of upholding the Tower's interest.
For this reason, Mages more interested in academic research or consolidation of arcane might preferred to forgo the title of Magister or Meister to live free from the accountability conferred by the recognition. Many Mages from the Clans chose this path of subtlety, with the occasional few becoming worldly and famous after their talents were exposed.
As for Gwen's preference of Universities, there was the choice of Jian Tong, Fudan, Shanghai U, Dong Hua, and the militant-minded Shanghai Maritime.
Of which Jian Tong and Fudan were the clear winners.
“The Mid-Term intake is in early May, which is three weeks away,” babulya informed Gwen and Richard after the family gathered for morning tea. “Both of you have commendations from Magus Shultz, courtesy of the Pudong Tower, so short-listing shouldn't be an issue. May I assume you will be joining Fudan? I mean, there are only two C9 Universities in Shanghai, and Fudan is the superior one considering that you are both Expats. Jian Tong maybe the more prestigious of the two, but only if you intend to work with the PLA.”
“So, Fudan,” Gwen masticated the name gingerly. “Petra is there, right?”
“She is indeed.” Babulya nodded. “It is also my old college.”
“But Jian Tong offers two teams for the International University Competition, and Fudan only has one,” Gwen noted with a dilemma.
To carry out what she and Gunther had planned, Gwen, and preferably Richard as well, absolutely needed to qualify for the University team by Second Year. The Competition took place in the second semester and could take up to four months, from August to December.
Thinking of their penultimate goal, Gwen felt an inkling as to why her babulya was pushing for Fudan so forcibly. Assuming Gunther had already told her of their objective, babulya likely felt that if Gwen and Richard were to distinguish themselves, they might as well do so under the auspice of Fudan. That way, she could benefit her network and look over the children's shoulders, killing two Rocs with one Catapult.
The networking provided by a University's alumni is one of the fundamental reasons why universities were considered the gathering place of the elite. Klavdiya maintained a web of ‘Guanxi’, extensively nurtured over four decades. It was precisely one of these favours that had overruled her husband in keeping Gwen illicitly within the holding facility, allowing Jun free passage to retrieve her granddaughter.
“How about you, Richard? What do you want to do?” Klavdiya turned to Richard, seeing that Gwen remained undecided.
“Whatever she wants,” Richard spoke without hesitation. “That or something complementary, but we need to be in same courses, if possible. That includes the General Courses as well, I suppose.”
“How many General Courses do we have to take?” Gwen asked.
“Two per year, and you can choose to do higher ones if you pass the prerequisites.”
“I see.” Gwen considered the exponential volume of options opening up before her. “Are the General Courses worthwhile?”
It was babulya who answered her.
“Don’t look down on the non-magical courses Gwen, it may sound strange, but it is the General Courses that make the C9 Universities so valuable.”
“How so?” Gwen's voice trembled with curiosity.
“How else are you going to learn about Civics, Oratory, Arts, History and Politics?” Her babulya laughed. “You can inherit talent, you can hoard arcane secrets, you can hunt down rare ingredients, but if you want to have your Tower, then you’d better take some Leadership and Governance courses! You can’t even trade CCs for such knowledge! NoMs teach them, you know!”
"Oh?” Gwen marvelled at the fact but saw the sense in forcing non-magical academics on to the students. After all, if Fudan took the top 1 percentile of Mages in Shanghai, then it was inevitable that those Mage who graduated from it would one day come to become the ruling tier of the city. As a place for developing Magus and Magisters, therefore, it was imperative that they didn’t release political illiterates and clueless Tower Masters into the world of governance. In fact, Richard went on to explain, to qualify for the possession of a demesne in the Frontier, one must complete a post-graduate course in good governance. Likewise, having NoM instructors at the university further offered students who had grown up around Mages, surrounded by Magic, a way to gain the perspective necessary to recognise that there existed life-skills outside of Spellcraft.
“Are there courses for Economics?” Gwen asked out of curiosity. She already possessed a Master’s degree in International Business, and an MBA to boot. Maybe it was finally time she could tap into the privilege of prior knowledge?
“Of course!” Richard laughed. “Accounting, Appraisal, Corporate Law.”
“What about Finance?”
“Sure, its somewhere in there.”
“Naturally,” Richard pointed to one of the course booklets Gwen had flipped through. “Thinking of starting your demesne already, are you?”
“Babulya.” Gwen turned to her grandmother. “What do I do to become an MBA?”
“It’s called A-B-M, dear,” babulya corrected her kindly. “It’s a particularly challenging selection of Subjects and typically reserved for the best and the brightest. If you’re interested, I can probably put a line through to the Faculty head of the department.”
Excellent! Gwen speculated upon the prospect of enrolling in a course for Administration of Business and Management. She could probably ace it with HDs without breaking a sweat, so long as she could translate her knowledge over to this world.
“How difficult is it?” Gwen caught the tail end of babulya’s affecting speech. The ABM course was probably challenging because students in this world had little contact with finance, economics and the management of corporations.
“I’d dare say so.” Her babulya’s kind face regarded her protege profoundly. “If you wish to match your legendary brother-in-craft, or even the self-taught Ms De Botton, specialising in Aerial Combat is a foregone conclusion!”
“A-aeriel combat?” Gwen stammered, realising that there must have been a missing link in their game of Chinese whispers.
“Aerial Battle Mage,” Richard added helpfully. “It’s the most auspicious tier of proficiency the Arcana Curriculum. The booklet says that the course is joint-taught by instructors from the Tower, the PLA, and the University. It’s the only way to learn Advanced Flight apart from burning a few hundred CCs. The coursework comes with everything, dog fighting, passive incantation, mana conservation, spatial training. I think we ought to take it! Good choice, Gwen.”
“…” These crazy battle Mages! Gwen bit her lower lip awkwardly. “Of course, I wouldn’t dream of skipping it.”
Now with the misunderstanding clarified, Gwen persisted in her suit.
“Is there a course for Business Marketing and Consultancy?”
Richard and Klavdiya meet one another’s eyes. Why such interest in the General Course?
“Gwen, is this one of your ‘NoM and Mages are of equal dignity’ tangents?” Richard wrongly realised where Gwen was heading with her enquiry. “I know you’re unusually sympathetic to them, but let’s not get sidetracked, shall we?”
“Business is for the NoMs, Gwen.” Babulya’s face took on a little worry as well. “As well as this 'Finance'. A Magister can level towns and raise mountains. A Magi can reduce entire civilisations to ash. What good could be served by hoarding Crystals and currency? They should be spent as soon as possible to improve one's mettle. Once you become a sanctioned Magus, earthly wealth becomes trivial. I mean, have you ever heard of an impoverished Magus or Magister?”
“Doesn’t more capital mean I can purchase more items for training?” Gwen herself was a woman of Two Thousand odd HDMs, after all. She would be happier if that number could grow by a few digits. "Making a high turnover is not unthinkable. We can invest in a product, improve its packaging, cut baseline costs by streamlining its production stream, and profit from targeted redistribution."
“You sound like you mean business!” Richard laughed out loud. “If you have time for that, you may as well foray into the Wildlands, train, or learn new spells!”
“Well, I am sorry for wanting a steady fount of resources.” Gwen’s voice took an apprehensive tone. What was wrong with a little golden-fingered commerce? Wouldn’t it be nice if she had a full complement of Magical Items? Or unlimited Crystals with which to purchase property and skills? Were her old skills that untranslatable? Hell, she could organise an Alchemist's alliance, reduce costs through volume and scale. Then, she could repackage and brand 'Ye Old Healing Injector' into a selfsame 'Restoration Elixir Plus" that's 10 - 20% cheaper, distribute it for sale after getting accredited 'branding' from the Tower. In time, they could get a spokesperson, a famous Magister or Meister, and have them 'promote' the product in return for favours or resources. In a world as blind to commerce as the Mage-world, there were a dozen ways Gwen could bullpen the market.
“Richard’s right,” Klavdiya interrupted her thoughts. “Gwen, if you wish to progress down the Path, you require resource and instruction. Resource, however much of it you possess, is a limited affair. Think of all the Clans and their treasure vaults filled with Crystals and items. Barring Mythic level artifacts, do you think having access to a rare diet and austere facilities made a significant difference when you and Richard stripped them of their Crystals and CCs in the Dungeon?”
“I guess not,” Gwen confessed.
“Crystals, items, wealth- these things are material, and therefore they become immaterial,” babulya intoned with sagacity. “In the end, your greatest investment is yourself, for a Mage, there is only one resource that is finite.”
Gwen hazarded a guess.
“Time!” Klavdiya affirmed her hypothesis.
“I see.” Gwen surveyed the small hill of potential courses, each containing invaluable knowledge. How grand would it be if she could acquire the lion’s share of arcane lore contained therein? How limitless and daunting would her potential then be? But there was no mitigating counter to the tyranny of time, whose leaden hands turned without mercy. “There isn’t enough time in the world.”
“That’s correct,” her babulya continued. “First, you have only three years to carry out whatever plan Lord Shultz and yourself have agreed on. Assuming you and Richard achieve what you set out to do, you will have an even more limited window of time to mark your place in the world. By then, you will have progressed well past the point of return on the Path of Asura, eternally demanding more power and influence.”
“You need ever longer spears to beat up ever bigger tigers,” Richard interjected with a NoM proverb. “Sound’s rather depressing, doesn’t it? We’ve already cantered so far, Gwen, let’s not stop to pause for breath!”
A Path of no return, Gwen thought with a shiver. And metaphysically speaking, a Path of Asura without cessation. What would the end even entail? Certainly not a bay view bedroom with floor to ceiling windows.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” Gwen recited sentimentally. "Sailing toward a blood-dimmed horizon where the sun never sets, we are all stuck on this rickety raft."
She shook her head, trying to dispel the sudden feeling of depression she felt for the unending toil she had ahead. A success today meant only a taller hurdle tomorrow. A triumph of the moment merely meant a greater enemy later. A corpse left behind becomes another number in the innumerable statistic to come.
“It’s not all doom and gloom.” Richard reached out and touched her hand. “Didn’t you meet Elvia and Yue along the way? You met me, right? You found Babulya too, ain’t she the sweetest lady you have ever met?”
“Why, thank you, Richard.” Babulya burst into trilling laughter.
“I merely speak the truth, Babulya,” Richard replied seriously. “Gwen has not had a cordial relationship with family, and that’s putting it mildly. My father, her mother, even Uncle Hai. Gwen has been alone for so long that I have no idea how she does it.”
She didn’t make it, Gwen felt a pang of guilt in her chest. The old Gwen had no desire for the world she was born into, and so somehow I came to inhabit the destiny she had abandoned.
“Richard’s right, Babulya.” Gwen left her seat to walk behind her diminutive grandmother. She reached out with both arms and embraced her from behind, pressing her face against Klavdiya’s flaxen hair. “Thank you.”
Klavdiya held Gwen’s slender arms around her, then kissed Gwen’s fingers as they brushed her lips.
“I am happy that you’re here.” Klavdiya felt likewise touched with sentimentality.
The two women touchingly held one another, sharing the moment of filial intimacy with a palpable aura of sentimentality.
Nice. Richard observed the proceedings with satisfaction. He was a wise man who said that honesty paid dividends.
“So, Fudan?” Klavdiya inquired gingerly, her eyes moving toward Richard’s, whose eyes twinkled with complete and utter innocence.
“Fudan,” Gwen said finally, her voice full of conviction.
“Fudan indeed,” Richard repeated after Gwen, grinning like a shot fox.
* * *
Where the West likes to say that where there’s a will, there’s a way, the Eastern equivalent was that where there are people, there is Guanxi. For Klavdiya, the well-oiled mechanism of her network moved into motion the moment Gwen had decided upon Fudan.
Two Applications appeared on the desk of the Dean that very afternoon, together with a commendation from the Pudong Tower for the two Students and a reference from the Director of the PLA Second Army Hospital. A private letter was also attached, which Luo Jiang opened carefully, revealing the impeccable handwriting of a woman to whom he felt the greatest ardour and admiration. Years ago, Luo’s mother had fallen ill and required a rare tier 7 White-Gold Dragon-Newt Logan to prolong her life. Luo drew upon all of his influences to try and find the unique ingredient to no avail. He had felt despair until the final moment when an old Alumna of the University had heard of his plight and acquired a piece of the precious fruit from her laboratory. That was Klavdiya Song, and though Luo’s mother still passed, her passing was peaceful and happy, not filled with the agony of dementia and disease.
When the request first came through, Luo had furrowed his brow and grimaced. Fudan was a C9 university and as such, to prevent its cohort from becoming filled with well-connected trash, stringent and harsh penalties had been put in to counter the opening of ‘backdoors’.
Such occurrences still happened, of course, but they were requests for full-fee paying students. These applications were for Scholarship-loan positions, a placement as rare as hen’s teeth.
He owed Klavdiya a favour, but as the Dean, Luo did have an ethical duty to uphold toward the university in defending its academic authority. If Luo was at the end of his tenure, he might have considered such a thing to repay a favour, but he was only a few years into his position and felt no desire for his legacy to end as an ousted, corrupt official.
Still, the indecision made Luo at least wary of his choice. He carefully picked up one of the applications. The attached photo was a Eurasian youth who looked a little older than the usual applicants, maybe a returnee from Military Service.
Luo’s eyes scanned the lines.
Was the boy a Praetorian at Prince's? He sat up in his chair.
Tier 5 Conjurer, tier 1 Abjurer. Nineteen?!
Luo blinked. His eyes moved past the biometrics and turned to the talent section.
T-Tier 8 WATER.
“Wocao!” he blurted out loudly. “Mao’s Stars!”
“Sir? Are you alright?” An adorable female face ducked into the doorway. Luo liked an ‘open door’ policy, though no students dared to see him without a prior appointment. “Did you stub your toe again?”
“It’s nothing, Ellen. How're the reports coming along?”
“I am working on them!” Came the catty voice from the reception, its owner visible by the reflection on the polished floor.
“Alright.” Luo turned back to the application. "Keep hammering."
Tier 8? That’s impossible. Luo felt that there must have been a typo somewhere.
He kept reading and found solace in the addendum that Richard Huang was in possession of a high-tier Spirit. Red Stars, Luo thought to himself. The luck of this kid. Luo himself was almost fifty, a Magister, at the top of his game, and even so, he only had a sapient mid-tier Air Sprite. He continued reading the documentation, and when he’d finished, he had to tap the table contemplatively to digest the tingling sensation in his chest.
This application wasn’t a favour for him to give. It was a favour granted to Luo! Even with the field of students Fudan currently possessed, someone with such stacked-talent was difficult to ignore. He would still have to meet the young man, naturally, then put him through the wringer and see his abilities tested, but already he felt that there was little chance he could be disappointed.
Luo now felt less antagonistic to this 'favour' he had to grant, and so he glanced over at the second application.
A girl of almost seventeen, uncommonly pretty and of indistinct ethnicity.
Luo pursed his lips. The girl might be pleasing to the eye, but there was no making up for talent. His secretary, Ellen, was exhibit A. The name on the application read ‘Gwen Song’, not a first name that he recognised anywhere, but the last name was very much intriguing. Was she another member of Klavdiya’s House? Luo pondered the last time he’d approved an application for Mrs Song, wife to the MSS Secretary of Confidential Communications, Director of the Second PLA Hospital. That had been the Mineral Enchanter, Petra Kuznetsov, a rare talent from whom Fudan greatly benefited. When he’d last spoke with Magister Wen, she’d informed him that herself and her apprentice were already making substantial progress on the use of Spell Cubes and were ready to release an academic paper on the matter in the next six months.
“Alright, let’s see what you got.” Luo opened the application and scanned the girl’s biometrics with evidently more interest than the young man’s.
What and where the hell is Blackwattle? Luo found himself thinking. She’s from Sydney, Australia? Is she a refugee? His brows knitted in consternation. There was nothing impressionable in her academic transcript at all. In fact, it was negligible, non-existent.
Luo thumbed the application, and that was when he realised that the form he was holding was several times thicker than what he had anticipated.
With an ominous feeling in his chest, he turned the cover page.
A blistering array of improbable numbers and statistics assailed his eyes.
“W-WOCAO!” Luo couldn’t help but vociferate a burst of unbidden disbelief. His hands shook, his knees knocked. He almost ripped one of the pages from the application form.
“SIR? ARE YOU OKAY?” Ellen’s elfin face ducked into the corridor again. “Did you get tea onto your pants? Or spill the ink bottle again? Should I get the cleaner to Pristigitate your pants?”
“I AM FINE!” Luo walked to the door and slammed it shut.
He returned to his table and held the application like a man who’d found a Dungeon Core in the middle of a salt-marsh, and now had no idea what to do with it.
Lightning at tier 4?
Void at tier 4?
VOID! Luo wanted to leap from the table and perform a little jig. In fact, since Ellen wasn’t watching, he did precisely that.
A Neophyte with Void! In the wild! Luo could barely contain himself. As the Dean of a C9 University, he had to fight for talent with the other universities. Fudan, despite existing as one of the top academic existences in China, regularly lost some of the best and the brightest to Jingyen, Beijing University, and even Jian Tong here in Shanghai. Those were the Big Three, the CCP sponsored academies with deep roots in the PLA, the dynastic Houses, and the venerable Clans.
When a uniquely talented individual appeared in the wild, the university scouts would be following them for years, offering incentives, help, and even tutelage just so that the student would choose to join their institution.
But who’s laughing now! Luo rejoiced. Fudan would be the first to produce a Void Magister! MAO! Just thinking about the prospect of such a thing sent his spine to tingling.
When was the last time there was a Void Mage of note? Elizabeth Sobel? She was a Commonwealth Battle-Magus though; she had met a sticky end, consumed by her talent, or so they say. But unlike the 70s, the theory-craft of the Elements, the Sigils and the Planes, had advanced leaps and bounds. They knew at least what the Void was now, how to counter its effects, what to anticipate and how it affected the caster. This Gwen Song would be in good hands. He could place her with Magister Shore, or perhaps Magister Gongsun, hell, why not both? They would jump at the chance to see Void in action.
Then there was Lightning as well! An element supreme in monster hunting, possessing high damage potential as well as speed. Luo realised that he’d become so enamoured with the idea of the University coming to training a Void Mage that he’d neglected a crucial fact: Gwen Song possessed two elements.
Where did Klavdiya dig up her granddaughter? Luo couldn’t help but feel awed all over again. What the hell did they feed her in Australia?
Included with the Spellcraft statistics was another addendum that explained the rationale behind Gwen’s twin elements, along with a request for secrecy. Luo finished reading the beautifully scripted handwriting and had to agree; if someone knew that one could potentially create Mages with two elements by impregnating the host with twins and then inducing one twin to consume the other…
Luo shuddered. With a simple chant, the attached note turned to cinders.
Some knowledge was best kept away from the light of day. Luo was more than happy to leave the shouldering of this secret to Klavdiya. As far as he was concerned, Gwen Song was a freakish product of the strange arithmetic of chance.
He continued to read.
Conjuration appeared to be the mainstay of the girl's ability, but the girl had terribly few Spells to note, barely a dozen.
Beneath the data on Gwen’s Conjuration was a description and image of her Familiars. TWO familiars, Luo noted. The first was a common beast, a run of the mill Lightning marten. The other was an indescribable thing that consumed the living to nourish its host, a shapeshifter.
Luo lowered the application and pinched the bridge of his nose. He had very quickly developed resistance against the string of surprises.
He read on.
“WO-WOCAO!” Luo slammed the table and swore out loud.
“Sir? Are you alright?” Ellen’s voice peeped from behind the oaken door.
Evocation at tier 3? Transmutation at tier 1? Abjuration? D-Divination?
What manner of destiny manifest had Klavdiya pushed onto him? Could he even bear the burden of carrying this monstrous existence to term? What if this Gwen Song became less of a power they created, and more like a force they unleashed?
But Luo was an educator. He was the Dean of Fudan! If there was one motto that was universal to all the Arcane Universities of the world, it was that they dreamt of bringing forth a Caster who could change the status quo, break the stalemate, expand the domain of Man beyond their meagre enclaves.
“Ellen, come here,” he called for his secretary.,
There was no reply.
“ELLEN! COME HERE!” he shouted at the door.
The oaken door opened and Ellen stalked through the threshold on stiletto heels, tightly wrapped in a white blouse and grey pencil skirt.
“Yes, Jiang?” Ellen tiled her china doll face. “You called?”
“Send these two Applications down to the Registrar and tell Han to put them in with the Mid-Semester Scholarships.”
Luo incanted a short glyph over the manila envelope, sealing it so that the intended recipient could only read the letter.
“Take this to him personally, and tell him to shortlist these applicants. Go. Do it now. Don’t let anyone see you.”
“Yes, Master.” Ellen took the envelope and held it close to her chest. In the next second, she became as indistinct as air, transforming into a wisp of wind,
Luo walked back to his desk, his heart still pounding as he felt the weight of the application in his hand.
He never knew that a dozen sheets of paper could weigh as much as the rest of the world.