Metaworld Chronicles

by

Wutosama

Chapter 197 - Whetting the Appetite

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Dueling, as a national sport, was begotten in the West, though it had always existed amongst the Chinese Elite in an unofficial capacity since antiquity.

Compared to grand displays of power and ego, what the Tower's system had brought was a code of conduct upheld by adjudicators and participants the moment they stepped into the sacred space of the arena.

Commonly, Acolytes and Mages duelled for practice and to settle grievances.

Maguses oft participated, restricted to a lower tier of spellcraft.

Magisters, however, were strongly discouraged from dangerous and excessive demonstrations of their powers. Past the middle tiers, spells were far more likely to result in fatalities.

In general, duels to the death were illegal and frowned upon as a waste of human resources. When duels were held in unofficial capacities, however, 'accidents' tended to become a fact of life.

By the time Gwen and her toothless groper entered, banquet tables had already been shifted to the side, and an impromptu area about the size of two tennis courts had been boxed in with portable Force Barriers. Below the transparent 'box', was the koi pond, though the fish were now curiously absent.

A wave of nostalgia assailed Gwen's memory.

When she had visited Elvia’s mansion in Sydney a lifetime ago, Evee’s extended relatives had duelled over the water. The Frontier Aussies didn’t have access to Force Barriers and had to instead rely on floating docks and the bay itself to displace wayward spells.

The news had circulated that the two Patriarchs were betting the honour and the future of their Houses on the contest, drawing all eyes toward Gwen as she stood with her family on the sidelines, awaiting the opening act.

“Gwen, we’re all behind you.” Petra gave her cousin a long-overdue embrace.

“Yeah gurl, any ho who even thinks of trashing you better watch their bank!” Tao announced a little too loudly.

“Thanks, Peaches. I appreciate the gesture.” Gwen ruffled Tao’s hair, flustering the young man. Tao was her senior by almost four years, but Gwen always treated him as though he was the younger one. “But no threatening my opponents with bankruptcy, you hear? You’re going to ruin grandfather’s plan.”

“What plan?” Mina scoffed. “Throwing you to the wolves?”

As her father’s spoiled little jewel, Mina rarely had to stomach Guo's discipline. Whenever the old man grew grumpy, she would scoff, then leave. It was one among many reasons why the Wangs and the Songs had grown apart over the years. That and Tao’s insistence on his career in music and entertainment instead of military, politics, or commerce.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that.” Gwen stifled a smile. “They may be wolves, but I am the Lurker in the Dark.”

"Ha! Is that a self-prescribed nickname?"

"How about Black Widow?" Peaches suggested. "Now that's a bitch'n moniker."

"I don't think so," Gwen firmly refused. That name was copyrighted.

With overt familiarity, Petra placed a hand on Gwen's shoulders.

Gwen looked up inquisitively, meeting her cousin's startling, husky-like eyes.

“Gwen, may I?” Petra enquired.

Gwen gave consent.

Petra focused her mind, sending an inquisitive diagnostic glyph into her cousin's body.

Gwen forced herself to relax as Petra called up her current status, gauging the change in her Sigils, Affinity, and her biometrics.

“Jesus.” Petra breathed in. “You’re…”

Gwen put a finger to her lips.

“What is it?” Tao leaned toward her conspiratorially. “Did Uncle Jun leave Gwen with some killer item?”

“Something like that.” Gwen chortled.

“Where is Uncle Jun anyhow?” Mina looked around the place.

“He’s preoccupied, I’d wager, pounding away for the motherland,” Gwen answered more cattily than she would have liked, wondering what her uncle could be doing with Ayxin. If her uncle could return at a convenient time, it would make the Song's victory doubly assured.

But then again, if Jun threw his reputation around bullishly, then the Lius may just launch everything they have.

It would be total war.

With the barriers assembled and tested for rigidity, an older gentleman in a mandarin jacket presented himself.

“Good evening all, for those of you who do not know me, I am Magus Owen Ly, Registered under the PLA Tower in Shanghai, holding the rank of Major in the PLA. I have been asked by Committee Chair Song, as well as District Secretary Liu, to oversee the proceedings of this auspicious duel celebrating the wedding of Magus Liu and Mr Song. If there is any among you who desire to question my impartiality as arbitrator of the duel, please speak now...”

A moment of silence reigned, followed by polite applause.

“Excellent. I shall now proceed.”

“From the House of Song, we have Gwen, currently a student from Fudan, first year. She is the daughter of Mr Hai Song.”

Gwen walked forward, watched by her family.

Klavidya turned to her husband, who held his wife’s hand.

“You’re not nervous?” Klavdiya felt her husband’s fingers. They were firm, cool, and bone dry.

“While you spoke with Gwen a few nights ago, I spoke with Jun.” Guo's face was impassive but there was a hint of gentleness in his eyes. “For weal or woe, Gwen has become powerful; not even I can deny that. I have every confidence in Gwen's ability.”

Klavdiya blinked, feeling a sudden thrill engender in her chest.

Guo said nothing.

Upon on the duelling dais, Magus Ly continued.

“First to challenge Miss Song is Cadet Zheng Hu, from the Branch House of Cheng, serving the House of Liu. ”

One of the spectators turned to her male companion.

“They’re pitting that poor girl against a military officer? What’s the Patriarch Song thinking?”

His companion shrugged.

"You mean what's Patriarch Liu thinking."

Magus Ly seemed unsure of the proceedings as well.

“Miss Song, may I obtain a confirmation? Do you intend to proceed? This is not a contest until Shield Break. You may very well receive grievous injuries.”

“I am ready.”

“Very well. Duelists, enter the arena please.”

The walls became immaterial.

“There is to be no item usage, nor any offensive or supportive magical armaments. The match is to first 'yield'. Until then, I shall not intervene.”

Both contestants affirmed their willingness to follow the Magus’ guidance.

"You'll be sorry, your little minx. The world will see what kind of woman you are."

Gwen ignored Hu's shit-talking. Any action not contributing to the bastard's decimation would be a waste of her time. Above them, the Magus levitated until he was behind a section shielded from the combat below, standing just above the cage. At a second's notice, he could erect new barriers to protect a defeated combatant from additional injury.

“BEGIN!”

Cheng's half of the arena grew suddenly hot.

“Flame Str-”

“Lightning Bolt!”

Both Gwen and the Young Master from the House of Hu had nursed their first incantation as soon as they entered the duelling ring. Where Hu had desired to use Flame Strike, smothering the better half of Gwen’s court with fire, Gwen had only one goal: the advantage of first-strike.

A blue-bolt of raw plasma issued forth from thin air, connecting the space between herself and her target with an arm-thick concatenation of ionized air.

Hu’s Shield activated at once, forming a semi-dome wreathed in orange.

‘KRINK!’

With a sound like crushed glass, his shield cracked.

“Shit!”

Hu retracted the spell on his lips, switching to defence, weaving another Shield into place. Basic Abjuration was a staple of military training, even for Elementalist damage-dealers.

"Fire-"

“Lighting Bolt!”

A second bolt joined the first, blinding the audience with its intensity.

“Shie-”

“Lighting Bolt!”

Gwen’s first bolt diffused only when her third bolt issued forth. To the audience, it seemed as though three lines of lightning had tethered Hu to Gwen, preventing him from repositioning himself.

“Mao! What’s her affinity?!”
“How much mana is that girl channelling into those bolts?!”
“Maximised Lightning Bolt?”
“Looks Empowered to me…”
“No, she’s using the mundane variety, listen to her second incantation. It’s just a regular Lighting Bolt…”

‘KRINK!’

Hu’s Shielding failed yet again.

"Blink!"

A bolt grazed the Fire Mage just as he disappeared.

When he appeared behind Gwen, the man was already half-paralysed and smouldering with static.

Gwen had been waiting.

She knew that her opponent's only recourse was to close in. Fire Mages tended to have many low to mid-level short-range AOEs with high damage thresholds, such as Flaming Hand, Flame Toss, and Wall of Fire. Close-quarter elemental combat was where certain Elementalists shined.

"Lightning Whip!"

Her 'whip' caught the man as he emerged, sizzling his half-formed Shield before it could expand to protect his body.

"Flaming H-"

"Lightning Bolt!"

"Aarrrrgh!"

'Crack!'
'Crack!'

Again and again, she flayed away at Hu's arrogant mug, watching his face filling with fear and panic.

'Spak!'
'Spak!'

'KRINK!'

Hu's Shield failed yet again.

Her whip struck the man's flesh.
A sudden crackle not unlike a thunderclap resounded across the courtyard, followed by a nostril-distending stink of burnt flesh. A welting gash of strikingly salient blood ran from the man's temple, down across his nose, and again across his chest.

"DO YOU YIELD?!"

Gwen halted. Her whip-hand trembled.

Her brain took a moment to catch up with her thrilling body. 

Holy shit! She had almost maimed a man!
A man whose crime had only been aborted sexual harassment.
Her heart pounded, white-hot adrenaline dangerously pumping through her systems, demanding gratification.

"I...erg..." Hu appeared more robust than his demeanour suggested, caught between honour and self-preservation. His voice was cut short as a paralysing agony wrecked his nervous system.

“VICTOR, Miss SONG!” Magus Ly shook his head, declaring Hu’s loss, not wanting to log a semi-permanent maiming under his judgement.

Gwen diffused her whip.

She shook out her fingers.

A portion of her brain chemistry urged her to continue.
The rational part of her discourse issued a red card to the psychic persona who wanted to administer another twenty lashes.

“WHAT?! NO!” Her assailant rose from the floor. "I haven't yielded! I haven’t even completed a single spell! This is not fair! She’s using an accelerator! A spell booster Ring! You said no Offensive Items! She cheated!”

The wedding guests burst into boos and jeers.
Hu’s face grew three shades darker.
A dark and tenebrous emotion overruled his senses.

“STINKING BAOZI!” he screamed at the audacious girl. “HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO ME!”

Gwen narrowed her gleaming eyes.
Enough was enough.
Something equally dark within her own mind answered the young man's call to combat. A surge of Draconic Essence circulated violently through her body as she focused her will upon the screaming imbecile.

Her whip materialised instantly - she raised her arm menacingly, ready to deliver the maiming blow.

Up above, Magus Ly felt a shudder overtake his mental faculties.

Below, Hu stood dumb as a statue, his body frozen in place by an instinct for survival far wiser than his ego-addled mind.

A trickle of yellow liquid began to seep from between his legs.

“OH MAO!”
“LEADER’S GHOST!”
“Wocao!”
“That’s it for the Chengs. Good riddance.”

Gwen's disciplinary intervention paused mid-air.
She had no desire to whip an incontinent man.

“Mercy! Miss Song! MERCY! Hey, let me through! MERCY! MISTRESS!”

A man, presumably a relative of the young Hu, banged against the Force Barrier with all his might. Magus Ly prevented the man from entering.

"Miss Song?"

Gwen lowered the whip when she saw Cheng's follower on his knees, banging his head on the pavement just outside the duelling box.

Her anger deflated.
The pity she felt was overwhelming.

"Let him in." She motioned to the wall.

Magus Ly complied.

The intruder ran toward the young master Hu before bodily picking up the mortified young man from where he had spread his foulness over the floor.

"I... I yield..."

The declaration came too late and too inconsequentially. The Cheng's good name had been pissed away, and all the magic in Hangzhou couldn't put it back in his bladder.

“Make way!”

The audience made way.
There was no point in continuing to shame or jeer the young man. He had already pissed away his future into the wind. It was one thing to lose to a seventeen-year-old girl when you’re in your twenties and enrolled as an Officer Cadet of the PLA, and quite another to become incontinent when threatened.

Gwen leapt from the platform.

She caught sight of Chen Pao, the man who'd mistaken Ayxin for her. The poor sod appeared more convinced than ever that she was 'the one', his eyes fervant enough to burn holes into her dress.

Turning away, she averted the man's gaze.
Those were a stalker's eyes.
When would Ayxin be back?
How long was her Uncle going to work his magic?

“Hit me!”

Tao tossed her a bottle of Maotai she had earlier commanded him to scrounge. Gwen didn’t need Divination to know that she would soon need to draw upon her vitality-empowered abilities.

“What was that you hit em with?!” Tao’s eyes gleamed with marvel. “A new spell? Was it Enchantment? Did you finally pick up Enchantment?”

“Naw…” Gwen slugged the bottle like mineral water, savouring the warmth soaking her mana conduits. She recalled the last time she and Tao had a similar conversation. She put down the bottle and coolly inform her cousin that she'd been training her 'killing intent'.

“Woo~.” Tao’s mouth hung open, trying to imagine Gwen bathed in the blood of her enemies. The scene playing in his head made for some fascinating lyrics.

Meanwhile, the crowd gave their condolences to the Cheng family. At least the girl wasn’t putting on airs, the audience thought, turning to regard Guo and Sumei; both of the old men wore their expressions like Noh masks, revealing nothing.

Who would crack first? The guests wondered, looking forward to the next match.

* * *

"Got what you wanted?”

Liu ignored his counterpart.

Guo’s taunt was as arrogant as it was confident.

Liu now knew he had been baited. Gwen’s prowess had been revealed, but her depth remained unprobed. The miscalculation didn’t mean Liu didn’t have a contingency of his own, though the foul taste in his mouth was undeniable. The House of Liu had gained local prominence by absorbing, allying, and intermarrying into the local Clans, and Jiangnan remained the birthplace of many of China's most celebrated Scholar-Sages.

The question at hand was how many of their young folks he could afford to throw at Gwen without invalidating the gambit Guo had goaded him into. If he resorted to grinding Gwen down with trash before assaulting her with their most talented Magus, the amount of ‘face’ the Liu would lose would be immense, nullifying the whole purpose of subjugating the Song into the Conservative Faction. Most importantly, the underhanded tactic would anger the Ash Bringer, who could then have an excuse to ‘step in’.

Liu Sumei measured the pros and cons of sending out his trump card immediately.

There were still too many unknowns. What if the girl had a spell which happened to counter the prodigy he had in mind - the pride and joy of the Suzhou branch of the House of Liu? Liu was confident that within the confines of the arena, it was impossible that his nephew, Wonsoo, could lose.

Still, it paid to be careful. Guo was an old dog, but even a decrepit mutt could crush one's hand if given the opportunity. Should the Lius lose, all the investment they had put into the Song’s first son would be forfeit, not to mention he would lose his daughter as well as a future heir of the Hangzhou bloodline. He had no desire, as the parable goes from the Three Kingdoms, to lose the army and then the bride.

Three more challengers - Sumei affirmed the limit of his conviction - then he would send out Wonsoo.

From the looks of the girl’s Lightning Affinity, she was at least above a 5 - marking her as a rare breed indeed. No wonder Guo was uncannily confident.

If he should fail...
No, Sumei tapped his chin.
It was unthinkable that the girl could defeat Wonsoo.

“Ji-an,” he called out to the crowd.

A young Clanner in her early-20s stepped forward. The girl had a wisp-like aura about her that reminded the audience of a swaying willow. Her hair, her limbs, everything about the girl seemed weightless.

“Please demonstrate to our guests the famous Spellcraft of the White Crane School.”

“Yes! Uncle Liu!”

As before, the two combatants were invited into the arena. By now a group of NoMs had cleaned the place thoroughly, ensuring that neither Gwen nor Ji-an would accidentally slip or step on the shameful display left behind by Gwen’s last contestant.

Ji-an bowed toward her Patriarch.

Gwen hastily performed the same gesture for her grandfather, eliciting a few awkward laughs from the audience, defusing the tension somewhat.

From above, Magus Ly asked if they were ready.

“Yessir.”

“I am ready.”

“BEGIN!”

“Air Step!”
“Lightning Bolt!”

Gwen had hoped she would catch the Liu’s second contestant again with a fast-chant offensive, but her opponent eluded her assault by using a Signature form of Blink. 

Sidestepping Gwen's line-based elemental onslaught, Ji-an appeared half a meter to Gwen's right, then swung her hand in a broad, sweeping gesture. A melee Mage? Gwen mentally adjusted her strategy. The wispy-looking girl was a melee-caster?

“Shield!”

Gwen’s barrier manifested in the blink of an eye, springing from her body as a semi-dome.

‘TSsszzz!’

A horizon slash turned the frontal lobe of her Shield stark-white.

Fast! Gwen immediately fortified her Non-Newtonian Shield, anticipating the follow-up.

‘Tssshing!’
‘Psshing!’
‘Tzzwing!’

Ji-an’s Air Blades were a tier 1 incantation, but her spell-flurry was pumping out almost three scythes in the space of one of Gwen’s Lighting Bolts.

For the observing Wedding Guests, the Aerial Mage’s plan had worked brilliantly against the Lightning Sorceress, who had no idea what to expect. She was now caught flat-footed in the same manner as the Cheng Fire Mage.

The question on the minds of Gwen's audience, however, was how long a fellow offensive elementalist could hold out.

* * *

Outside the perimeter of the duelling area, Liu turned to Guo.

“Your granddaughter appears to be using Westernised Spellcraft. Have you taught her nothing?”

“She received her education in Sydney.” Guo sipped his tea.

“Western Spellcraft is predictable.” Liu smirked. “What will she do now? Her Abjuration is only tier 1, is it not?”

Guo glanced at his rival.
Was the Secretary showing off his intelligence network?
What a laughable and stupid display from a bureaucrat playing at espionage.

“I wonder.” Guo pursed his thin lips, forming a grey line. “It would be laughable if your Affinity 4 Kenshi with Transmutation and Evocation at tier 4 couldn’t even break through Gwen’s paltry tier 1 Abjuration Shield.”

Liu snorted with derisive mirth, feeling a cold sweat soaking his mandarin jacket as Guo continued to nurse his cup. It was true that he had requested a report on the girl, but he hadn’t thought the spy-master would have gathered so much intel on the Liu household in so short a time.

“...”

Perhaps it was best to keep his mouth shut.

The duels would speak for themselves.


* * *


The frontal part of Gwen’s Shield had become almost entirely opaque.

But she paid it no mind.
The Air Blades were barely penetrating the first layer.

In fact, she could top up her Shield faster than Ji-an could diminish it.

Compared to Kusu, who had assailed her with a hundred daggers at once, the Air Mage's blades were barely a chicken-scratch. Correlated against Lulan's spell-flurry, whose blades could crack the first layer of her Shielding with a single strike, the force from Ji-an’s was laughable.

What troubled Gwen was how she would nail the speedster without giving away too much of her ability.

Ariel was still asleep; Caliban she wanted to save for a tight spot. Without Cali's pants-shitting, PTSD inducing initial impact, the melee-monster had limited utility.

She considered a large-scale AOE.

Ball Lightning? But that too was one of her trump cards.

Something akin to a bluff that could unbalance her enemies would be best. Gwen wasn’t sure how many contestants there would be, though five or six wouldn’t be out of the question. If the Lius kept throwing fodder at her, could she also call for a proxy while she took a break? The only other ‘Song’ who could fill in for her was Tao, though no-one wanted to see that happen, least of all Tao himself. Perhaps Petra could fill in, but her position as Magister Wen’s disciple and her lack of affiliation with the House of Song could be used to contest her eligibility.

Perhaps Percy could participate.

Gwen searched the crowd and saw her brother standing behind Tao and Mina. By now the assault had slowed, and her Shield was restoring its clarity faster than Ji-an’s attack could make its surface opaque. By Gwen's count, the girl must have fired off thirty-odd blades. Even someone with enhanced mental fortitude would have to endure Spell-fatigue sooner or later.

To Gwen's surprise, she and Percy's eyes briefly met; her brother responded by giving her an encouraging nod and a thumbs up.

The gesture filled her with good cheer.

“Flashbang!"

Gwen generated an over-charged crystal, humming dangerously in the palm of her hand.

Outside her Shielding, Ji-an launched an AOE in the hopes of draining Gwen's mana pool. So far, it felt as though she had been hewing away at a mountainside.

“Ice Storm!”

Being an Air Mage, Ji-an lacked the impact and penetration of Ice Mages when using the spell. Conversely, her AOE manifested with greater range and coverage, instantly smothering Gwen’s Shield with a layer of ice.

“Air Lance!”

‘Thunk!’

A battering ram of ice and air slammed into Gwen’s Shield.

The eastern quadrant of Gwen’s Shield turned entirely opaque as the projectile struck.

Inside the dome, Gwen was ready.

“Dimension Door!”

“Air Step!”

Ji-an was relentless, tailing Gwen’s movements even as she appeared on the far side of the duelling arena. It was a testament to the girl’s talent that with nought but Transmutation, she was tracking Gwen’s Conjuration-based teleportation.

What greeted Ji-an however, was a blast of lightning as they both materialised.

An offensive teleport! The crowd’s clamour rose to a new height. A signature Dimension Door? Who was the girl's instructor? Such a spell was unheard of in the Frontier city of Hangzhou.

Ji-an erected a hasty Shield as she attempted to reposition herself.

The sound of a clicking crystal striking the surface of her Shield greeted her.

As for Gwen herself, she had disappeared behind yet another Shield, one consumed by a dark membrane.

‘BANG!’

Ji-an’s world filled with light as the sonic blast concussed her brain.
Unlike Gwen’s Void Shield, the Air Mage’s defensive barrier was transparent and paper-thin, suitable only for deflection. In stark contrast to Gwen's worst elemental match-up, Earthen Mages - the Aerial Mage's Shielding lacked the physical and elemental resistance to endure Gwen's overloaded Flashbang.

Ji-an's eyes filled with light as the sound rattled the Force Barriers and sent her off balance, falling to her buttocks.

Disoriented and stunned, the Air caster despaired, struggling to rise. 
As an Aerial Combat Mage, evasion and avoidance were her staple defence.
Tanking an offensive spell was suicide.

“Lightning Bolt!”

“I FO-”

She was too late! Ji-an's blood ran cold.

‘CRACK!’

A bolt of lightning sizzled past her face, filling the air with ozone. The plasma had ripped through her Shield and would have sent her straight to Hangzhou's ICU had Gwen not altered the trajectory of her spell.

The female mage fell to one knee, feeling her entire body quivering with exhaustive fear as she took in the reality of her unexpected survival.

"I FORFEIT!" She pushed the words from her bloodless lips.

“VICTOR - MISS SONG!”

Magus Ly landed beside Ji-an and examined the status of the girl. The blindness and deafness would soon wear off. The girl was otherwise unharmed.

“Good work.” The adjudicator nodded appreciatively at Gwen with an expression of immense relief. Not announcing Gwen’s imminent victory and allowing Ji-an to be mortally wounded would have cast his judgement in a critical light. “Most excellent control, Miss Song. You should be proud. I’d thought you would have struck the girl for sure.”

“Nothing to it.” Gwen smiled at the Magus before helping Ji-an to stand. “You alright?”

“I thank you for your mercy.” Ji-an bowed deeply.

“Hey, we’re just pawns in someone else’s game. It’s nothing personal.” Gwen gave the girl a hands up and a hug. “I am glad you’re okay.”

Ji-an accepted Gwen's embrace, a gesture which was met with applause from around the courtyard.

Gwen turned to regard her grandfather, finding the old man golf-clapping. When she smiled at him, the old man cleared his throat and stoically went back to nursing his tea.

Waving her opponent off, she descended the dais as naturally as she could muster.

Her heart was racing over a hundred and fifty.
What had the instructor said?
'Most excellent control'.
CONTROL? She had never possessed the ability to twist her Lightning!
That she had done so could only mean one thing.

“Ariel!”

She internally called out to her Familiar.

“EEee!” Ariel responded with a resounding squeak.

“Did you redirect that Lighting Bolt?”

“EE!”

“YOU BLOODY RIPPER!” Gwen gushed audibly.

Tao stepped backwards, both hands waving in the air.

“I didn’t do nothing!” her cousin protested.

“Haha, Peaches, sorry, I intended that to be silent.”

"Gwen! Is that what I think it is?"
"You got one? YOU GOT ONE?!"
Petra and Mina were both beside themselves.

"AWW YEAH SISTAS!" Gwen gave the two of them a round of high-fives, so giddy that she was having trouble trying to express herself.

“Congrats on the Spirit, Sis,” a quiet voice rang out from behind Tao.

“Oh, Percy...” Gwen felt taken aback by her brother’s unyieldly propensity for misunderstandings. She reached out for her little brother with an outstretched hand. “Come on, not now. It's complicated.”

“No, it's fine. I am happy for you, Sis.” Percy took her hand, but his fingers had no rigidity to them; she may as well be holding flacid Korean rice-cakes.

A wave of annoyance overcame her.

Here she was, fighting for the honour and continued existence of the House of Song, a house that had rejected her as an ‘heir’ and yet her brother was moping about some immaterial detail about...

She blinked.

Fighting- for the House of SONG?

D- Did her grandfather rope her into the whole ordeal without her even noticing that she was now fighting for the very house whose continuation she has rejected?

She turned to glare at Guo.

That conniving, sneaky, weaselly old man!

But then Gwen saw her babulya standing beside her grandfather, and her peevish ire melted away. Klavdiya's face appeared far more relaxed than she could recall in the last few days, prideful and happy, even. The heart-gnawing sensation of watching her babulya losing hairs over her wayward son was a wretched sight Gwen never wanted to see again.

For babulya, she would do this - not for Guo.

Jun was away dealing with Ayxin; Hai was pussyfooting about; Guo was too busy trying to worm his way out of their firstborn’s blunder; Percy was acting the selfish little shit; who would look out for their grandmother?

She would.

It was up to Gwen to protect the meagre blessings of a hapless mother worn threadbare by her boundless devotion to family.

Gwen flexed her fingers.

She would be the champion of her babulya’s fragile happiness.

For Klavdiya, she would slay dragons.

 

 

 

 

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A note from Wutosama

Voting for the novel :: Voting button 

Bonus ::  Gwen's Outfits :: 

Title Ref ::  Puns! 

 


About the author

Wutosama

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

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