Gwen felt intoxicated when she stumbled out from the lecture, followed closely by Mayuree.
All those skills, all that otherworldly knowledge, less useful than Yue’s ability to provide Firepower! Firepower! Firepower!
Gods! To think Yue of all people was right on the money.
She stumbled back to the apartment like a ghost and buried herself into the soft linen folds of her bed. EVEE! EVEE! EVEE! She chanted like a Mantra. This whole time she'd imagined herself taking to economics like a duck to water, now she felt like a cat that'd accidentally slid into the bath. She wanted to hug something so badly! But she wouldn’t receive Evee’s Glyph until her companion’s LRC Device was authorised. She could try to contact Alesia or Yue though, although 3 PM might be a little too early. With the time zone taken into account, it might be best to contact them at a more convenient time. Although if she remembered correctly, Alesia has an LRC installed in her apartment at Nelson's point, which had miraculously survived the Inland charge by the Leviathan.
“Gwen, are you okay?” Mayuree peeped up on the other side of the bed, eyeing her companion worriedly. Gwen opened a bleary eye, and Mayuree saw within her companion's hazel orbs a predatory glint.
Gwen arrested the unsuspecting Mayuree and hugged her fiercely, feeling the softness of the girl under her as she rested her chin on Mayuree’s soft head of dark brown hair. The girl grew beetroot, turning rigid as Gwen held her, unmoving, for five whole seconds.
“Okay!” Gwen breathed out, releasing Mayuree from her enveloping arms. “Thanks, Mia, I needed that.”
Mayuree’s chest rose and fell; her heart hammering at her ribs, her face hot as an iron.
“...” Her mouth moved several times to make a sound, but the petite young woman felt as though a Displacer beast and taken her tongue.
Gwen sat upright on her bed.
"Sorry," she apologised.
"It's alright, are you okay now?"
"I am okay."
"What was that about?"
“Nostalgia? Impulse? Sentiment? When I was in Sydney, there was a friend - Elvia, who was close to me. She was a dear little thing, a tiny blonde angel. She’s a healer, but she’s gone off to England to study abroad.” Gwen sighed and met Mayuree's amber eyes. "You remind me a little, of Elvia I mean. I didn't hurt you, did I?"
“No, no.” Mayuree’s complexion resembled a cooked lobster as she waved her hand. “I am still in one piece.”
“Great, I am glad to hear it!” Gwen chuckled, then felt the call of the void. “God, I am famished.”
“Coming up then? Ah-lei can make us something. Anything you like.”
“If it's not too much trouble.”
"Ha! Of course not!" Mayuree replied richly.
Well, of course not for you, Gwen thought sardonically, unable to help herself. There was no point wasting Mayuree's generosity though; it wasn't as though Ah-lei would be freed from the labour of making lunch for her young Mistress.
Gwen bounced off her bed, sending the small Mayuree tumbling away. Mayuree picked herself up from the carpet, her hair a mess of auburn tresses mopping about her face.
“Is western okay?” Gwen enquired, offering the girl a hand. She regretted the puerile act she had committed earlier, but she felt in a childish mood. It was just one of those days, maybe her anticipation for the conference with Elvia was subconsciously altering her habits.
“Whatever you want.” Mayuree grinned at her friend, her heart pounding at Gwen’s unexpected show of genuine intimacy. “Whatever you like!”
* * *
“Beep-KeeeEEE-HUUUUUU- PSSSSSST- Ka-ka-ka…Ssss..HSSSSS!”
The LRC Device made an infernal noise that resembled two cats mating violently. Having survived the days of dial-up, Gwen found the sound more endearing than grating; she knew that the din of kitty-amour was in fact, Divination glyphs in search of a target.
A projection appeared of a woman in a red cotton nightie.
“Jesus Christ, who the fuck is this? Do you know what time it is?” A bleary-eyed Alesia scowled at the projected image.
The vision of offended femininity turned her face toward the prism.
“Gwen?” Alesia's brows took on a life of their own.
“Hi!” Gwen made a silent note that this particular glyph was Alesia's home address.
“Oh wow! You got it installed?! Good work, Tiger!”
“How’s it going, Sister?”
“Recovering, chugging along. How about you? Bloody hell, Gwen, you look right-well bushed.”
“Erg, how bad does it look?” Gwen placed a finger under her eye to prod her eyebags. “I guess I’ve had a big week.”
"You look like something a drunk dingo dragged into the bush camp, haha!" Alesia laughed at her own Outback humour. Gwen joining in to share a jovial chuckle, the distinctly Australian imagery in everyday vernacular was something she missed.
"Well, you're looking rather nice. Nightie and all. Waiting for somebody to slip into bed?"
"Bah! You little rascal, in my dreams. How about you huh? Shaking your tail feathers at all the young fellers up there in Shanghai?"
"Oh, I was flat on my back alright, a week of CLASSES! God, it feels like my entire life is taken over by class, test, and sleep. I assure you, Sister, I have had no time for the lads."
“Come off it!" Alesia chided Gwen's rebuff. "Surely there are some hot hunks in Fudan. It's a tier 1 city! There's sure to be a yummy boy-toy to catch your eye, no? You're young! Live a little, don't sleep on a cold bunk!"
Gwen was beside herself. Trust Alesia to act the old wand! Wasn't she the thirty-something virgin? A female Wizard? The gall of this woman to mock her young and innocent heart! Speaking of which, Alesia's lascivious curiosity reminded Gwen, she wondered how her sister-in-craft and Gunther are getting along.
“Enough about my amorous adventures, how about you, Sis? You and Gunther do any horizontal tango? Make the beast-of-two-backs?”
“Oh, what the fuck! Jesus,” Alesia reprimanded Gwen churlishly, her face glowing. "Oh my God, the beast of t-two backs! How do you come up with this stuff!”
“Ha, how about you two come off it! You guys are adults! I give consent! What are you waiting for?”
“He’s busy, and that’s not an excuse either, just the reality,” Alesia's voice took on a more serious note. “But, we’re together now, at least.”
“Oh ho ho!” Gwen made her eyebrows wiggle expressively.
“No! Get your mind out of the gutter,” Alesia blasted back in good humour. “He’s worried about my health. You know, he still cooks for me sometimes.”
Ergh, Gwen felt the sting of being single. Gunther’s cooking was divine.
“He’s running the reconstruction of an entire city, and he's got the time to cook for you? Girl, you have to jump that bone as soon as you can!” Gwen advised earnestly.
“Gwen!” Alesia rocked backed and forth. “You’ve become such a naughty girl! That’s right; you’re seventeen now! How are you so experienced, hmm? How many boyfriends have you had?”
"I've been living cleaner than a nun in a cloister," Gwen replied tacitly.
The two women traded a few more jocular jabs before moving onto the matter of Gwen’s subject-selections, of which Alesia approved.
“I can be your Transmutation tutor in the future,” Alesia announced confidently. “Anyway, since we missed your Seventeenth, Gunther and I have sent you a care package. It’ll take a while to clear Customs though, especially in China. I hope it gets there in one piece.”
“I’ll look out for it, thanks, Sis!”
“Anytime, Sis!” Alesia smiled warmly, enjoying the sound of the sibilance rolling off her tongue. “Anyway, you know these LRC calls cost an HDM per minute right?”
“Ahahaha!” Alesia snorted. “I hope you’re not low on funds!”
“I’ll get a job,” Gwen said miserably. So much for all-nighter calls with Elvia or Yue, she sighed.
“Okay, I’ll let Yue know it's set up; and get someone to chase up Elvia. It's a two-way charge, by the way. Bloody Diviner-Communication companies. Probably run by vampires. See ya later, Tiger!”
“See ya,” Gwen watched as the device died.
She looked at the clock.
Maybe it was time to look into part-time jobs.
* * *
Gwen emerged from Magisters Wen’s session feeling like a lifetime had passed. How absurdly long was her week? She hadn’t felt that kind of elongated distortion of time since she was training under the hellish schedule set by Henry Kilroy.
Finally, like Frodo said on Mount Doom, it was over.
Now, she felt lost.
So she had half a day to herself.
What was she to do?
Petra was busy.
Mayuree was off to see her family.
Richard worked like a madman.
Neither Mina nor Tao was available.
She couldn’t just call babulya out of the blue and ask her impossibly busy grandmother to keep her company.
Her father was out of the city, her uncle probably on a mission.
Percy? Gwen baulked at the thought.
Gwen harked back to the memories of yesteryear.
In old Sydney, she could spend whole weekends cooped up with two cats that kept her company, a good book on her Kindle, and a bottle of Mexico’s best-distilled agaves by the sideboard.
Paper White in hand, she would lounge languishingly on the porch overlooking the ocean, a Tequila Sunrise sweating against the Australian sun, a cat or two nuzzling at her ankle. Later, when her body grew stiff, she would do a little yoga; meditate to the sound of the ocean. Sometimes, she binged Netflix and cackled herself silly. Oftimes, she had friends over; occasionally, she had gentlemen callers.
But that was neither here nor now.
Gwen racked her brain for something both productive and relaxing.
She returned to the training hall, booked a room for the afternoon, then practiced her Evocation and Conjuration until she was OOM thrice over.
* * *
And on the seventh day, Gwen rested.
Petra was out. So was Richard.
It wasn’t until noon that she awoke, famished beyond belief, and called for take-out.
After receiving looks of pity from the NoM who delivered a family-sized serving of food, she sat down by the kitchen table and ate by herself. She then cleaned up, switched on the LRC Device, then sent a Message for Yue to call her when she was back in town.
At 5 PM, she left the apartment and jogged around the neighbourhood, from University Boulevard down to Guoding, from Guoding Rd to the second campus, then doubled back through the tree-lined centre of Fudan to the Guanhua Towers. From there, she took a sprint down toward her apartment, then cooled off in the garden. Her muscles, so disastrously worn out by her experiment yesterday, had rallied around her Druidic essence.
As she materialised a towel and wiped her face down, she saw a Blue-Green utility vehicle with the label ‘Greenfield Construction’ imprinted on the side panel. A familiar figure stumbled out from the passenger side, spoke at length with the driver, then stumbled toward the entrance.
“Richard! Jesus! Are you alright?” Gwen rushed over to her cousin.
Richard looked as though he’d lost five kilograms or so. His face was sallow, and his skin had a sickly tinge. He peered up at Gwen with eyes that were on the verge of exhaustion.
The kindly seeming old man in the Van gave Richard an look of empathic misunderstanding and a thumbs up before driving off and honking the horn twice.
“Yo. I am back.”
“Good God, Richard, what happened?” Gwen caught her cousin.
“Just a little incident, nothing too serious." Richard immediately attempted to diffuse her anxiety. "I just received a few Cure Moderates. The ol' blood-bag is right as rain. Don’t you worry.”
“Bloody hell!” Gwen wrapped his arms around her neck to support her friend. “This is not a laughing matter! Where did you go? Who was that in the car with you?”
“The foreman, he’s got another two blokes in the hospital, he's gotta go check on them. I think they should pull through.”
“Jesus, tell me what happened.”
They entered the lift.
“Nothing catastrophic, if you must know,” Richard articulated tiredly. “Damn Riven Mermen didn’t uphold their part of the Ceasefire. They collapsed an upper section of the Dam we were working, flooded the entire lower-valley past the Yellow River up South-East Nantong.”
Gwen could almost imagine the raging torrent of water bearing down on her cousin, bringing with it construction concrete, boulders, rebar, and other flotsam.
“Are you wounded? Do you need more healing? I could ask babulya or Mina…”
“No, it's fine.” Richard had no desire to leave unfulfilled favours in his wake. “Boss bought me two potions already. I am just a little dizzy, is all. The healing took a lot out of me.”
“Bloody oath, Rich, how bad was it?” Gwen could feel Richard's weight loss. She wasn't a healer, but she could tell the healing took a dastardly toll on Richard's constitution. That meant that Richard had sustained a potentially fatal wound.
“A few cracked ribs, contusions, internal bleeding, that sort of thing…”
“Struth! Christ, Dick.” Gwen dragged Richard into his apartment and carefully deposited him on the sofa. “How are you feeling?”
“I feel like shit.”
“What do you need? I’ll get it for you, anything.”
“Got something to eat?”
“I’ll call take out.”
“I need… meat. Something with iron in it.”
“You got it!”
As they waited for takeout, Gwen demanded Richard relate every detail.
The whole ordeal, as it were, began in good spirit.
The request they were fulfilling for Contribution and Academic Credit happened to be for his old foreman, who, knowing Richard's hunger for CCs, set up a Request for a clean-up crew to clear out Magical Monsters from their construction zone.
Richard's team spent the next two weeks clearing out the monsters with limited success. As with anything involving large masses of water, creatures tend to hide in the nooks and crannies of the meandering river. Even with Lea's ability to displace liquid, they struggled with the Purge action.
On the fifth day, the Mermen incident occurred. As a result, Richard's party ran afoul of Gill-Gobs, or Mer-Goblins, ravenous little creatures resembling Goblins with jaws built like that of piranhas. These creatures were hyper-aggressive; with a tendency to swarm when the pack grew too large for their underwater warren, or when their homes were destroyed - which was the case.
Richard held off a dozen single-handedly, but there were well over a hundred, each more agile in the water than even Richard with Lea’s aid. He generated Replenishing Shields for himself and his allies, quickly pulling them from the water, but even so, they became overwhelmed. When help arrived in the form of a construction Golem dropping ten-tons of gravel into the river to stun the nasty buggers, Richard displaced enough water to pull his team to safety.
But it was a hair-breadth escape, one not won without cost. Richard had been wounded all over his body; the little knee-height Gill-Gobs had taken their pound of flesh from the Water Mage before they fled. Richard then collapsed from loss of blood; then he woke up in Shanghai Metropolitan Hospital.
“Bloody oath, Richard...” Gwen felt her tear ducts loading up on water bolts. She had considered the possibility of Richard becoming injured before, but this was a return ticket to the afterlife and back, and it had come out of nowhere! She wasn't one for tears over the odd broken-bone, but Gwen couldn't prevent her mind from spinning like a top when she considered that, but for a healing potion, Richard would have never recovered.
“It's only to be expected,” Richard tried to assuage her growing paranoia. “Who doesn’t get injured while Adventuring?”
“But not like this! You almost died!” Gwen knelt by her cousin’s side and cupped his face. “You’re not allowed to die on me, do you understand? Under no circumstances…”
“I understand.” Richard closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of Gwen’s warm fingers on his cheeks. “I didn’t mean to put myself in that much danger, I assure you. It was an unforeseen accident.”
Gwen wanted to say something akin to ‘never again’, but she wasn't a naive waif from the North Shore. If she desired Richard to accompany her on the IIUC tour, it was with absolute certainty that their life and limb were on the line.
When the food arrived, delivered by the same stone-faced NoM, Gwen sat by Richard’s side and tore up his order of baby-back ribs, feeding her cousin by the spoonful. It wasn't entirely necessary, but Gwen felt an ambivalent guilt gnawing on her conscience.
Petra arrived an hour later, just after 7 PM.
“I went and collected a Lesser Restoration from Babulya.” She opened the door without knocking and strode toward Richard with a Spell-cube in hand. “Dropped by the hospital as soon as I got your Message. Mina’s on-route as well.”
“I’ll be fine,” Richard chuckled painfully. "It's just a scratch."
"You were almost worm-meat!" Gwen protested.
“Nonsense!” Petra allowed the spell to diffuse Richard’s body. "He'll be fine after some bed rest."
A warm glow of Lesser Restoration suffused Richard's body.
“That’s better. I can feel myself again.” Richard breathed out. “You don’t really realise until after the fact how much healing takes out of you.”
“It’s possible to die from it, as stupid as that sounds,” Petra advised. “Your boss means well, but he’s an idiot. Two potions could have hollowed you out entirely. How badly were you wounded?”
“He couldn't have gotten you a Restoration?" Gwen interjected critically.
“You should have asked for a transfer to the 2nd PLA Hospital," Petra continued.
“Too true, Richard. Babulya would have taken care of you.”
Richard shook his head.
“I’d rather not owe them anything, the Songs, I mean.”
Her cousin's answer caught Gwen off guard. It would be her babulya's personal favour, but the circumstance could be construed as continuing to take advantage of the Song's connections. Hadn't she boasted only weeks ago that she'd broken free, weaned off the teat? Was she the hypocrite here?
Petra slapped Richard on the back of the head.
“Don’t be a prideful idiot!” she scolded him, her eyes glancing at Gwen. “You think Babulya cares about that? Don’t think so little about our grandmother!”
“But...” Richard's expression said that he understood Petra was trying to enlighten Gwen - but did she really have to boop him on the head?
“But nothing!” Gwen's train of thought crossed the canyon of hesitation. “Promise me you'll ask Babulya for help next time.”
"Of course," Richard replied. "Thank you, both of you."
“Where’s Lea?” Petra asked curiously.
“She’s tired, resting,” Richard assured them. “Defending the others took a lot out of her.”
Which meant whatever attacked them had been strong enough to destroy Lea's morphic form. Gwen realised. Richard wasn't telling them the whole truth. She would have to grill him later, maybe put the deceitful man to the rack with a few teary deceptions demanding the whole hog.
For the second time, the door opened without being knocked on.
“Richard!” Mina came into the room and made a beeline for the Water Mage. “Oh, Mao! You look terrible!”
Mina revved up her best healing spell.
“Mina, I-” Petra tried to stop their overzealous cousin.
The precious ingredients of the mid-tier spell became consumed in an instant. A surge of renewing, restorative energy coursed through Richard's weakened body. Locking his teeth, Richard exhaled as though an immortal part of himself was escaping his body.
“Too… too much Restoration…” Richard’s eyes were rolling toward the back of his head as the positive energy ravaged his physical form.
The girls watched the Water Conjurer convulse for a second, then quieten down. Gwen poked her cousin in the ribs.
“Rick, are you alive still? Should I call Babs?” Gwen asked carefully.
Richard pulled himself up by the armrest and regarded the three girls. Gwen knelt worriedly on her knees by the side of the sofa. Petra stood impatiently by the sideboard, one hand resting on her curvaceous hips. Mina’s moist amber orbs were rolling with liquid anxiety, her small mouth cute and pink, agitated with anxious concern.
Gwen became distracted by movement rising from below.
Well there it is, Gwen channelled her inner Jeff Goldblum.
There was no need for alarm. Richard was a virile young man, after all.
Petra followed Gwen’s gaze, her face transforming from worry to passivity, then into her usual frigidity.
Mina’s face took on the warmth of molten magma.
For a man on the verge of exhaustion. There was quite the proverbial tent. It was Eros and Thanatos, the Freudian forces that constituted man.
“Too much positive energy, I think,” Richard muttered weakly. “I feel as though all the blood has gone from my head.”
But there was no one to answer him.
The door slammed, and the girls were gone.
* * *
Time is relative, hypothesised Einstein.
Time is a specious, irregular flow of subjective, observable phenomena, expounded Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty; it is temporality, the quintessence of possibility-for-being.
But for Gwen, her routine was a lesson in time dilation.
Monday:: Conjuration and Evocation
Tuesday:: Familiar Training and Advanced Spellshaping
Wednesday:: Transmutation Utility & Lessons with Petra
Thursday :: Conjuration Practice / Management / Evocation Practice
Saturday:: Biometric data gathering with Magister Wen. House chores and socials.
Sunday:: Blissful freedom and cat-naps. Report writing and catch-ups.
Her life had become a beaten blend of class and practice, routine and repetition hollowing out her hours time and time again.
On her second Tuesday, she received her Sustenance Bangle - two of them. One white and one black, colour matched to her Familiars.
She channelled her Conjure Familiar through the wrist-rings; first calling forth Caliban, who emerged in its serpentine form, then Ariel as a horned marten. Even in its principle-shape, Caliban was monstrously large, well over seven-feet of obsidian glass sculpted with interlocking, semi-transparent chitin. Caliban's under-scales scoured the concrete as it slithered, its faceless mien tasting the air with triumph. Ariel, thankfully, juxtaposed Caliban in its fuzzy and adorable docile form; staring at the world with golden eyes sparkling with curiosity, sniffing its surroundings with its dark nose.
Her fellow students had their Familiars out as well.
Eunae with her doe.
Ji with his tiger-cub.
Bao, with his waterbird.
Ming, with his floating koi.
And Lu with his sweet-as-anything Lightning-Hawk.
They kept a distance away from Gwen, who stood with a cute marten over one shoulder, and what looked like an abominable amazonian python-cum-armoured-earthworm coiled around her white ankles.
“Acceptable.” Instructor Chen finished inspecting the lot of them. “Now, we go for a walk.”
The troop began to shuffle out from the underground, emerging into the daylight of Fudan’s secondary campus.
The Bestiary students immediately caused a stir as they stepped into the public space, drawing eyes from all over. Mages and passersby from the surrounding area began to gather as they gleefully pointed out the unusual nature of each Spirit and approximated their owner’s origins.
Then the crowd fell silent as Gwen emerged with her twin Familiars.
So. Much. Food.
She could sense Caliban's burgeoning hunger through their empathic link.
Caliban did not ask for permission before it slithered away and made a bee-line for what Gwen presumed was a Positive-Energy channeller. The fresh-faced young man was pointing at Caliban and saying something to the tune of ‘Wocao! What the fuck is that?!” when the serpent without a face charged him.
“Caliban! Back!” Gwen commanded her pet.
Caliban reared to its full height like a cobra, almost a meter and a half off the ground, and attempted to halt itself before it ran into its unfortunate victim.
“Arrrrragh!” The young man understandably screamed like a woman.
“Eeee!” his girlfriend shrieked in soprano.
“EEeEeee!” Ariel scolded Caliban.
“Shaaaa! Shaaa!” Caliban sang. It split its carapace and began to apologetically drool all over.
“Someone stop that thing!”
“Kill it! Kill it!”
“Caliban! No! Come back!”
But, it was too late.
A volley of relatively harmless Magic Missiles struck her void Familiar, causing it to open its carapace and actively demand from Gwen the vitality needed to activate its combat form. Before she willed it to back down, the Bangle kicked in, and Caliban was gone. When the culprits realised they had attacked someone’s Familiar, they quickly fled the scene, with the crowd breaking into scattered cheers mixed in a with a few mocking jeers.
The rest of her classmates looked over at Gwen with expressions of disbelief, schadenfreude, and amusement. Instructor Chen pinched the bridge of his brow as though he was suffering from a sudden migraine.
Gwen felt an ardent desire to flee the scene right there and then, but her pride did not allow such a pitiful display of surrender. She made sure that despite the beetroot complexion of her face, she was in full control of her body language. Placing one white leg in front of the other, she regally joined the others, wearing Ariel like a minx-scarf around her neck.
“Pfft! Ahaha…” Eunae burst out in laughter, followed by the bleating cry of her doe sniggering uncontrollably. She was soon joined by the others, forcing Gwen’s face to transform into multiple shades of splendiferous salmon.
“Pitiful,” Instructor Chen snorted mercilessly. "Go home and meditate. Work on bonding sessions. Run routines until they learn to stay by your side."
“I could manage with Ariel,” Gwen retorted defiantly.
Chen shook his head.
“Go home," he commanded.
Ashamed and humiliated, Gwen stalked from the scene, aided by her new mastery of Expeditious Retreat.
* * *
The rest of Week 2 began thus:
Ariel slept smugly on the thousand-thread count bed sheets.
Caliban slept in a cot that Gwen had purchased and covered with plastic tarp. The netherworld worm had a tendency to drool in the middle of the night, and the first night she’d shared a bed with it, she awoke at 1 AM with a pool of viscous goo collecting across her chest and arms as the sleepless serpent meandered back and forth listlessly.
That was her other problem.
Unsurprisingly, Ariel, a principally mammalian creature, slept when told; while Caliban, a thing of the Void, possessed no desire to sleep - ever.
Like a bleary-eyed mother, she awoke in the middle of the night, startled and upset, to find Caliban wandering the bedroom, snuggling up in her clothes or digging up her trash. In no less than two nights, it had consumed three pairs of thankfully non-enchanted intimates, including a favourite bra.
Ariel meanwhile, still had its moments of curiosity and mischief, whether running into traffic to investigate a particularly loud vehicle, or harassing student Mages for Crystals, or zipping across sidewalks to startle the innocent passersby.
Following Instructor Chen’s advice, she began by taking both Familiars into the garden to run routines with them.
Treat time! LDMs of course, Gwen wasn't made out of money.
Sit. Wait. Hold for 10 seconds. Reward!
Unlike unintelligent pets, Familiars have an empathic link with their Masters and thus, understood generally what the Master wished. What Gwen had to do was to establish a chain of command so that a request for the Familiar to exhibit a particular behavioural event was natural and unforced.
Gwen laid down some HDMs.
"Hold... Hold... Hold."
She commanded Caliban and Ariel to hold. Wait. Good boys! Treats!
Halt. Shadow me. Follow. Follow. Follow! Good boys! Reward! Caliban! Do as Ariel do!
Ariel took to training like a duck to water, but Caliban's capacity for following orders was cat-like.
According to her Instructor, there was little else for her to do but to desensitise her pets to external stimuli, habituate following commands, and create a strong sense of discipline and routine. If she could get her Familiars trained in their passive form by Week 7, then she could move on to Combat Training. If not, he would advise her to give up on being a Creature Mage until such time that her Conjuration becomes sufficiently forceful to compel her Familiar into absolute obedience. If that were the case though, her familiars would always be weaker than herself; generally by at least a tier.
I would need to be tier 6 to 7… Gwen didn’t tell the instructor that Caliban when fully empowered, could probably solo a tier 5 - 6 creature. She had no intention of giving up at any rate. Whatever it took, she was determined to pin Caliban’s dogged will under her stiletto heels.