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A note from Wutosama

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Percy wondered if anything in the world could hurt more than walking with a gash in his gut. But the wound couldn't be helped. It was the first time he had fought anyone to the death.

His instructors were right.
When the shit came down; one should never underestimate an inferior enemy. That his opponent would struggle until her final, dying breath was a concept Percy understood intellectually but had never encountered in real life, much less vis-a-vis via a live spell exchange.

The second assailant had been a Transmuter, though unlike the Abjurer, she had reached at least tier 2. Drunk on the acquisition of his new School of Magic, Percy had attempted to tank a Rock Shard, a sort of home-brew Barrage, only to have the obsidian spike pierce his Salt Shield, then slam into his abdomen.

In the first split-second, he had thought his injury manageable with a little grit, his brain still in shock and denial. Then the pain hit, and Percy reeled, coiled over like a cooked prawn, gasping for breath as a white-hot wave of agony washed over his shell-shocked brain.

‘FUCK!’ he’d howled internally, forcing his eyes to open. So much for the power up. So much for discovering the greatest secret of the Song’s lineage. He was going to get murdered by a hobo in a temple, and it would take them days to find his desecrated corpse. He bet Gwen never got wounded by hobos, not even that time she supposedly Quested in the Blackheath slums.

At any rate, by the time his brain moved past denial, the anguish was unreal.

As the deserter-woman closed in, Percy's life flashed through his feverish brain. He thought about Gwen, his mother, Helena, his father, Hai, his babulya, and even his Grandfather, but most of all, he thought about his aborted future: his titles, his House, his position in the PLA.

“Stone Spike!”

“Jump!”

Percy wasn’t too sure how he’d survived the fight, but he figured that it must have been the ingrained training from Guo kicking in. He vaguely recalled that he maneuvered away from the blast of spindly stone, then fired off two Salt Shards in quick succession while in mid-air, a feat he’d hitherto never accomplished, taking the astonished woman in the gut.

As she fell, choking on her own blood, leaking excreta, he had rushed toward her, bowled the vagabond over, caught her by the throat, then activated another ‘Drain Life’.

‘Holy crap I am good,’ he remembered thinking.

Was it the adrenaline?
Enchanters had a spell called Heroism that could temporarily lessen pain and increase physical and mental alacrity. Transmuters had a spell called Unyielding Body which performed a similar function. For Percy, the feeling was akin to a training-trance when one pushed past the pain and entered a kind of nirvana-like state, awakening only when the timer blared.

Usually, it took him almost fifteen minutes of concentration to activate the Blessing of the Kirin, but just now, he had used the elaborate Necromantic ritual as though it were a Salt Blast or a Chain of Salt.

By the time his second victim became desiccated, Percy had restored enough vitality to regain a clarity of mind, though his wound oozed, it was no longer dire.

Searching through his Storage Ring, Percy produced a Healing Potion.

“Tssss~!”

While the potion staunched his bleeding, an unbidden insight blossomed within the chaotic recess of Percy’s stimuli-addled Astral Soul, bringing with it an acute awareness of just how far up shit creek he had inadvertently paddled.

'You fucked up,' Percy's brain declared mercilessly.

Without a doubt, he had just violated some major-tier manifesto regarding both the preservation of the House of Song’s secret and the non-proliferation of Necromancy.

What would happen when someone inevitably found out?
Would he be sent to that infamous prison near Hongqiao, the Tianlanqiao?
How could the future heir of the House of Song, one who sought to resurrect the House's bygone glory, be the very one to bring its demise?

Percy’s temples throbbed.

He was most definitely up shit creek.
And HOLY FUCK he just lost the paddle.

Panic germinated from the pit of the boy's stomach, twisting and turning, gripping his heart with skeletal fingers, pinching his arteries and wringing his chest with sadistic intensity.

What should he do?
Who could help him now?

Gwen?

His sister's face was first and foremost on his mind.

When Hai was out playing with women, Gwen had made him breakfast. When Helena was too upset to show up for their weekly dinner, Gwen had taken him down to the local RSL for phó. When it was New Years, and neither of their parents were around, Gwen had taken him to see the fireworks at Darling Harbour; she even bought him a Big Mac with her part-time money.

She had always given him her things, while he had gotten used to taking them.
And now, Gwen had given up their father’s amulet.

A new agony seized Percy’s breath; it was like that proverbial trope where an angel and a devil duked it out within one's conscience; only within Percy's head, there were two devils - Guilt and Envy, jostling for dominance.

Out of habit, he thumbed his amulet.
The smooth texture of the stone, its all-too-familiar design, comforted him.

Going to Hai was a joke.
Going to Jun was an unknown.
Going to Guo? It was social and filial suicide.

Going to Gwen for help?
Percy was surprised that he found the prospect plausible.

What was the alternative?
Bury the bodies?
Never use his newfound power again?

A spark of hope flickered within the darkness of his despair.

No.
Gwen was living proof it could work.
His sister had kept the family secret and thrived, hadn't she?
There was no reason why the Songs couldn’t accommodate another. He was sure that Uncle Jun, or at least his Grandfather, would be more than happy to provide him with the means to become the most potent heir the House of Song had ever seen, elevating House Song beyond its mundane strata.

As for his sister, his beef with her was irrelevant.
It was a problem of his immaturity and his insecurity.
An issue of her overwhelming excellence.
But those barriers were no longer applicable.
He was just like his sister now.
They could fight together.
Adventure together.
Be together.

The ‘Dynamic Duo!’ the Mage-world would call them.

“Haha!”

Percy sniggered, his choking chortle sounding strange and hollow. He tried recalling where he’d heard the idiomatic phrase, except the laughter brought a new wave of agony.

“Ergh…”

Percy popped another healing potion, but the Positive Energy diminished by his Salt-corrupted constitution. Despite his self-medication, the wound continued to weep.

With nought but pure grit, he 'cleaned up' the scene, then limping and staggering, Percy wandered back to the manor.

As a guest residing in the West Wing, he possessed a Warding Glyph which allowed him passage through the siheyuan’s perimeter. Seeking discretion, Percy entered from the south side’s servant’s quarter via a Jump, then ducked between the artistically landscaped faux-ponds and granite mountains.

With his sister's guestroom in sight, he stopped to catch his breath.
His abdomen was now smarting something fierce, while his brain remained conflicted about his decision to trust Gwen.

“Ooo~, so good…”

Gwen's voice came through the window.

“Oh~ yeah, that IS nice…”

Petra’s soft moaning followed.

“Squeeze this part…”

"Oooh!”

Percy hesitated.

Was now the best time to break the news?


* * *


“Where do you suppose Percy’s gone?” Gwen asked Petra.

After the fiasco, the girls had retired to their guest quarters in the south wing.

Most of the wedding guests were gone, though a few stragglers elected to remain overnight. Taking advantage of the vacancy, Petra had moved in adjacent to her cousin, desiring to catch up on recent events. As for Mina and Tao, their mother had preferred Teleportation, seeing as crystals weren’t a concern for the Wangs, and that the woman had no desire to stay in the Liu’s estate for a single minute longer than necessary. After a brief goodbye, the siblings promised to organise a catch up once they were back in Shanghai, bidding Gwen and Petra farewell.

“I have no idea.” Petra’s husky-blue eyes flashed with displeasure. “From what you’ve told me of his deeds, I fail to comprehend why you’re so hung up on the little twat.”

“Well, he’s my brother, for one,” Gwen stated as though she had delivered an exhaustive response on the matter.

“I'd be careful. Percy's belly might be full, but his eyes are always hungry.” Petra jeered. “You won’t see me inviting him on July the 8th, there's no family and certainly no faith in the boy.”

“That's a little harsh?” Gwen nudged her cousin jovially, causing her to almost slip from the single bed. “He’s just a whiny kid who wants his piece of the world. It’s a perfectly normal response for someone undergoing his developmental stage. He thinks he's a Judge, but he's just a kid with a wispy wig, haha- ouch!”

Gwen bumped her head.

Petra half-sighed, half-groaned, rolling her neck to work out a kink. The post-framed single bed was somewhat cramped, barely boxing in two six-foot women and a four-foot pseudo-Kirin. 

But the girls didn't mind. It was cosy, not to mention they were playing with Gwen's Familiar. Ariel’s meaty feet-pads had become divine objects of orgiastic tactile worship, pink-fetishes capable of setting off oxytocin in the most stout-hearted cynic.

With conversation at a standstill, the duo focused on molesting Ariel, digging their long white fingers through the soft rush of its undercoat, manipulating its body this way and that.

"Eeee... eEE... Eee." Ariel wiggled.

“Ooo… Ariel's new fur feels so good, such softness."

“Oh~ yeah, that IS nice…” Petra squeezed the frog of Ariel's hoof, splaying the fur. They were two perfect stress-pads, warm and springy, with just the right amount of tension.

“Squeeze this part…”

"EN-HUGNN..."

The moan was a little TOO masculine to belong to Petra.

‘Knock! Knock! Knock!’ Came the sound, thrice at the door.

The girls ceased their lallygagging.

“A visitor?” Gwen turned to Petra, her face full of bemusement. “At this time of night, tapping at my chamber door?”

"Who could it be?"

“Better not be a bloody Raven.” Gwen turned to command her Familiar.

"Don't you mean a Jackdaw?" Petra asked, recalling a famous poem.

“Ariel, can you check it out? If it starts rhyming, eat it.”

“EE!”

Ariel floated from her arms, drifting toward the door.

The sight of Gwen's flying pseudo-Kirin still filled Petra with wonder. Lacking wings, whatever Ariel was using to fly was supernatural, an ability tied to the Elemental Plane of Air.

“EEeee?!” Ariel be-screeched the door.

The silence outside remained unbroken; the stillness of the air gave no token.

“!”

Gwen felt a curious tingle in her bosom.
Gauging the intensity, she determined that whatever was outside wasn't dangerous. Taking Mayuree’s advise, she had elected to ignore minor 'tingles', as ‘avoiding every mishap,’ would make her abnormally 'interesting' life impossible. Back in Fudan, every Mage frightened by Caliban could tickle her spine.

Sensing no physical danger, Gwen opened the door.

“Hey, Sis,” a young man's voice called out to her.

Gwen spun on her heels.

There was Percy, her brother, the very devil they were ragging on just a second ago, laying half-slumped on the floor.

“PERCY! What are you doing here!”

Gwen knelt, placing a hand on Percy’s shoulders as to help him sit.

“Shhhh~.” Percy groaned. “Sorry Sis, I fucked up.”

“W-what did you do?” Gwen quickly inspected her little brother. Following the blood trail, she spotted the wound near his abdomen. “SHIT! You're bleeding! Oh my God! PETRA!”

“On it!” Petra put a hand to her Message Device.

“No!” Percy raised a trembling hand. “Please, no Grandfather. No commotion.”

Gwen halted Petra’s Message.

“Percy, what the hell happened to you?”

“I swam up shit-creek, Sis. I am sorry.” Percy’s face was as white as a sheet. “Have you got… a Healing spell? My injectors' are on cool-down.”

“I got better,” Petra tsked. “Here, stay still.”

She produced a Spell-Cube.

“Cure Moderate Wounds!”

“Ooo! That prickles!” Percy rolled to one side, gasping for breath. Visibly, his flesh mended, the nerve endings flaring as though ten thousand ants ate away at Percy's injury.

By now, the commotion had attracted NoM servants.

Gwen shooed them away, then gingerly pulled Percy into her guest room, hoping that none of the other guests had decided to have a sticky-beak at 2 AM in the morning.

“God you're strong,” Percy marvelled at the ease by which his sister picked him up with both arms then placed him upon her bed. He was almost six-feet by now, athletically muscled, weighing in at nearly seventy-odd kilograms.

“Shut up, fat ass,” Gwen chided her brother. "Don't move! You'll agitate the wound."

The girls laid Percy on the bed, then settled by his side.

“What happened?”

Percy caught his breath as the healing spell finished its run.

“Sis…” the boy looked more vulnerable than she had ever seen him; his visage was so pale and loitering that Gwen’s heart melted.

“I killed someone.”

“…”
“…”

It took several seconds for the news to register.

“Like, a person?” Gwen inquired, wondering if her ears were deceiving her.

“You heard him right.” Petra finally breathed out. “How did you receive that wound, Percy?”

“I am sorry,” Percy repeated the phrase like a mantra, his eyes hunted by dark thoughts.

Could the boy be suffering from post-traumatic stress? Gwen wondered, playing the armchair psychologist. She had read about the infamous disorder in the Goodweekend Magazine when they interviewed ASDF soldiers returning from Iraq.

“It’s okay, we’ll deal with it,” Gwen assured her brother. The important thing, the article had said, was helping the victims understand why the trauma happened, and that they could control their unbidden episodes. “Just tell us what happened.”

Percy took a deep breath.
Gwen's gentle demeanour as she knelt beside him was exceptionally compelling.
The boy's words came slowly, reluctantly.

“When I saw your Kirin…”

“Eeh?” Ariel flittered around Percy, then patted his head. "Eee!"

“… I felt this... insane jealousy,” Percy muttered, his face a mask of shame and misery. “The idea that you found a Spirit of all things ate me up. It was the last straw, and I guess something snapped inside my head and I sort of just… ran like an idiot.”

Poor sod, Gwen patted Percy's hand, mimicking Ariel.
The green-eyed monster had almost claimed another victim.
Jealousy was like that; it could turn virtue to pitch, brother against sister.

“I didn't mean it, Percy …” Gwen moped.

“Percy, get to the point.” Petra felt a natural dislike for Percy's simpering. The boy was usually such an arrogant little 'young master' that his sudden demureness rubbed her the wrong way. She had seen plenty of whelps who thought themselves too good for the world in Moscow, but she had never seen a single one of them overcome with remorse because they took a human life. In their world, it was undeniable that life was cheap. NoMs died by the tens of thousands from starvation, predation, and human causes, what's another corpse if it was no one important?

Of all their relatives, Petra disliked Percy the most. Tao was annoying, but the young man was usually well-meaning; Mina was vapid, but she had a good heart; Richard? She liked Richard - as for Percy, Petra possessed an earnest desire to punch his teeth out.

“Out with it! What happened?”

“Pats! He’s in a fragile state of mind!” Gwen growled like a young leopardess defending its young. “Percy, you can tell us anything. Pats is worried, just like I am.”

“O-Okay…” Gwen's brother swallowed. Percy steadied himself, then began to tell his tale.

“So… like an idiot, I ran from the Estate. I was upset and super pissed. I wanted to blow off some steam by going to West Lake and fire off a few Salt Bolts into the water.”

“Go on.”

“I felt better, so I wandered around. Eventually, I got to this abandoned temple complex. At first, I thought it was empty, so I did some angry yelling…”

“Oh, Percy…” Gwen placed a hand on his thigh. “Understandable, keep going.”

Petra scoffed.

Gwen shot her cousin a look that said ‘come on, Cuz, cut me some slack.’

“...After a while, I got tired. It was stupid because I knew I had overtaxed myself. That means I had to use this-”

Percy took out the pendant.

“WOAAAA…” Gwen stood between Petra and Percy. “Percy, we’re with… good company. Maybe you should speak to Grandfather or Father about this. Also, I might not be the best person to consult about 'the pendant'.”

“Someone saw me.”

"WHAT!" Gwen almost leapt from the side of the bed. “SOMEONE SAW YOU?!”

“They were ROGUE MAGES! DESERTERS!” Percy petulantly protested. “They attacked me first! I defended myself!”

"Bloody hell, Percy..."

“I think they were living there,” Percy blubbered. “They wouldn’t let me go because I would have reported them. I couldn’t bluff them either, because I was wearing this…”

Indeed, Percy was wearing a very expensive looking tuxedo.

“So you killed them?” Petra asked in Gwen’s stead.

“Yes!” Percy groaned.

"Just like that?" Petra interjected. "Also, you said they. Earlier, you said 'one'. What's happening, Percy?"

"Pats, Percy's confused. We've both been through this. We know how bad it can get in the heat of the moment. Give the boy a chance to explain."

“Numbers and specs, Percy.”

“An… Abjurer.” Percy breathed out. “As for the other one, I think a Transmuter.”

“Sanctioned?”

Percy shook his head.

“Tier 1 or 2? Were they Chinese?”

“Yes, they were Chinese; they were barely tier 2.”

“How did they get through your Salt Shield?”

“I panicked. I tried to take out the Abjurer first, and couldn’t keep my Shield up.”

The girls looked at each other.

"How did some vagabond Mages wound you?" Petra frowned. Usually, deserters fled when confronted. What made them want to stay and fight a properly trained Mage?

“It’s the first time… I had to fight someone seriously,” Percy confessed. “I still can't believe I killed them. They were just two women.”

“A woman?” Gwen raised her head. “TWO? You killed TWO women?”

“Vot der'mo!” Petra swore.

For Gwen, the reality of Percy’s confession struck her like a bolt to the brain.

Her brother, a killer?
He was just a boy.

What a fucked up world.

Then again, were her hands so clean? There were accidents, such as those poor sods at Blackheath and that poor pig-tail woman in Hengsha. Then there were those she had willingly murdered, like Faceless, Nephres, and then Choi.

She felt as though she had to do something. What had she desired after the deed? After stepping back, her feet inch-deep in blood and her hands scarlet with coagulated gore? What could she give Percy that no one had given her?

Compassion, perhaps.
Empathy.
Someone who didn't think killing was no big deal.
Someone who understood.

“Oh, you poor thing.” She enveloped her brother with both arms. “It’s okay Percy. We'll get through this.”

Surprised by her unconditional affection, Percy dug his face against her collarbone, breathing heavily, as though taking in a part of her.

“Thanks for understanding, Sis, but I’ve got bigger problems.”

“Bigger… problems?”

“I used… 'you know what' on one of those Deserters.”

‘The... erm... Amulet?’ Gwen took a moment before she digested the full extent of Percy’s doubly horrid confession.

“Yeah, the Kirin Stone…”

“Holy shit, Percy…” Gwen looked over at Petra.

“Should I leave?” Petra inherently understood that this was ‘one of those times’.

“I am sorry, Petra,” Gwen apologised guiltily. “This isn't something I have jurisdiction on.”

“It’s fine.” Petra picked up her jacket. “I’ll be in my room.”

Gwen wanted to apologise, but her cousin was far too a consummate professional to linger. Families had their secrets. Petra knew the Songs' had theirs. If she was to know, Gwen would tell it. No mere secret could drive a wedge between them.

“Gwen.” Percy waited until Petra audibly entered her room. “I life-drained one of them.”

“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!” Gwen hissed, thinking of uncle Jun, thinking of babulya and the family. If anyone should find out, it would be the end of the Songs. "How is it even possible? The spell is incomplete! It's not supposed to be Nec- the N word. Its just a part of the ritual, right?"

“I got scared… I was low on vitality. They caught me in the middle of the ritual. I was almost OOM, and it just… happened.”

Her brother groaned; a wail of abject misery tinged with desperation.

“Fuck’n oath Percy.” She leaned back, but soon changed her mind. Instead, Gwen wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Gods, we’re a fucked up duo, you and I.”

“Not only that,” Percy continued, his voice barely a whisper. “I think I stole her Abjuration talent.”

Gwen's arm turned rigid.
Talent Consumption?
Percy wasn't a Void Mage, so how was such a thing possible?
Shivering, she thought of Edgar. The young man could use his Dust Devil to drain the vitality from its victims. He had done it to Debora, or was it Faceless? She knew for sure he had done it to her. But it wasn't as though anyone knew how Caliban's Consume worked, it was just an observable phenomenon.

“Its true,” Percy muttered guiltily. “Look.”

Her brother got off the bed and stood in the centre of the unfurnished room.

“Shield!”

A semi-dome consisting of a thin layer of Salt spontaneously appeared.

Gwen recognised the tell-tale signs of Abjuration.
It was nothing impressive. Almost every Mage at Fudan could manifest a split-second Shield, but Percy had just begun his training. Abjuration was one of his secondary schools, one that required time and dedication.

“I could barely reflex-cast my Shield before, and the lag was usually half a second,” Percy explained. “But now… you know.”

Gwen did know. She had walked the same well-worn path. Gwen's recollection brought memories of the aftermath of Blackheath. Though her knowledge of Spellcraft had been dog shit and she had a terrible understanding of theory, she could sudden Shield herself like a bona fide Abjurer, going as far as to undertake Gunther's Signature non-Newtonian Shield.

“Tell me again what happened.” Gwen attempted to retrace Percy's steps.

Percy explained as before: he was almost OOM when the two attacked him. He tried taking down the Abjurer, but the Transmuter got him. In desperation, Percy ended up breaking through the Abjurer’s Shield, used Drain Life while wounded, then used his replenished vitality to overpower the second attacker. Unfortunately, his vitality and his mana weren't holding up, so he ended up using the AOE effect of Drain Life to nail the Transmuter.

“Where are the bodies?” Gwen loathed the prospect of having to go and clean up Percy's mess.

“In here.” Percy flashed a Medium Storage Ring.

“I am sorry? You mean-”

“They just fit,” Percy explained nervously. “They were both very short and very… skinny.”

Gwen stared at Percy's ring finger in horror.

“Percy… God! Eurgh... why?”

“I just-”

"Just... think of a way to dispose of it."

“What should I do?” Percy choked. “I got scared. I wanted to go to the authorities, hand myself in, I believe I am justified in defending myself. But if they find the Necroma-”

“SHUSH! SHHHH!” Gwen cupped his lips. “Don't speak the N-word.”

Her brother nodded obediently.

Gwen wracked her brain for a logical outcome.
Her brother had killed in self-defence.
His victims were vagabonds and deserters, according to Percy.
Usually, that meant they had to file a report.
With Percy’s connection and the Lius now under their thumb, her Grandfather could easily prove his innocence.

BUT - what if the coroner detected Necromancy on the corpses?
How the fuck were they going to explain that?
What if someone else used Percy's crime as an excuse to play silly buggers with the Songs, as the Lius would have done?

Perhaps they should bury the bodies, smite the evidence.

No, that wouldn’t work either.

How the fuck do two teenagers hide evidence in a world with bloody Divination? What if some someone ‘dousing’ upped a corpse or some shit?

Cremate the cadavers?
Where the fuck are they going to find a crematorium?
Get Uncle Jun in on this?
Did she REALLY want Jun to play clean-up while Ayxin watched? What the hell are they would they say to the Dragon-kin? Hey, let me borrow uncle Jun for a bit, we need to turn some bodies to ash, you want in on this action?

Percy moved his hand over the floor.

Two corpses materialised.

Both were dressed in rags.
The first one was barely five-foot-two, skeletal and gaunt, with yellow skin that sagged from her bones. The second was likewise slumped over, but there was a wound on her gut, its jagged wound suggesting a Salt Shard.

“WHAT THE FUCK?!” Gwen hissed, overwhelmed by the sight and stench. “PERCY! WHY would you dump them HERE of all places?!”

Percy stared at his sister, dumbstruck.

“I thought you wanted to see…”

‘Creak…’

The noise may very well have been the innocent swaying of an unlocked door or window, but to Gwen, with the evidence of her brother’s kills fresh on the floor, the noise may as well be a SWAT team bursting through the window.

A flush of scarlet washed over Gwen's ashen face.

“Caliban!”

Nothing. Caliban remained dormant.

“SHIT!”

Should she force Percy to stow the corpses again? She could stow them herself, but the thought of having her Ring play home to fresh cadavers, especially ones that reeked like rancid cheese and old, mouldy rags, petrified her.

She would have to do this the hard way.

“Percy, stand back.”

Percy did as he was told.

Forcing her mind into painful focus, she channelled a glob of Void matter, then deposited the tenebrous mass onto the horrid shapes below her.

To Gwen's relief. It worked.

There were now two craters in the middle of the room. Blood, hair and clothes, even the pavement below had been sent into the Void.

Bloody oath, I would make an excellent Season 1 and 2 Dexter, Gwen studied her handiwork, then felt immediately overwhelmed by the reality of what she had just done.

FUCK, I just became an accessory to Murder!

She looked over at Percy.

Her brother was staring at the missing granite slabs as though in a trance.

Gwen sighed.

“Percy, come here.”

Her brother came to her, his feet like lead, his dazed orbs the eyes of a haunted man.

“It’ll be okay, bud.” She kissed him on the forehead.

That’s what Gwen would have wanted when everything had gone to shit. Someone to hold her, to tell her everything was dandy and that life would go on as before.

She mustered her best smile for her brother.

Percy's eyes were like their father’s; two dark hazel orbs hidden behind long slits that softened an otherwise angular face. His mouth, and his nose, however, were from Helena, a little overtly sensuous for a boy, giving Percy a permanently sulky expression that Gwen knew some girls would love.

Percy.

The Gwen of this world had loved her brother as well, even knowing that their vastly different magical talent would drive them apart. Was it genuine affection? Or was it a condition of her loneliness, Gwen would never know. In her old world, she had fancied herself a mother to her adolescent sibling, taking him out to dinner when neither of their parents came home, helping him with homework, buying him study guides with her part-time job money.

In Percy's eyes, she saw hope, desperation, awe... and hunger.

It was good that Percy came to her, confessing his jealousy, looking to her to save him from himself. She had thought the boy gone down a Path she couldn't follow, but now his prodigious return made her giddy with happiness.

Like Pope said, "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

Percy had learned to accept her help; his coming to her of all people after a singularly traumatic event was all the proof she needed that she meant something to him, that he trusted her enough to rely on her, and that alone drowned out the noise from becoming an accomplice.

In the secret court of her heart, she had acquitted Percy on all accounts.

“Sis…”

Her brother nuzzled her shoulders. His hair had a scent of brine, like the ocean.

But the time for sentimentalism was over. It was time for action.

“Percy, we can’t keep this from the people we love,” she advised, dispensing the foresight of her adult mind. “You need help, and I need help. We need to tell Grandfather. He was the one who taught you the Rite, yeah?”

“The 'Secret' Rite,” Percy noted with a hint of sardonicism.

“Look, I’ve 'heard' of it,” Gwen continued. “That’s not important right now. We need to fortify your secret with as many trustworthy custodians as we can. Should we tell Uncle Jun and Dad?”

“… Probably not Dad.”

Gwen tittered, her sniggering bitter and full of disappointment.

“Alright… Jun and Grandfather then. I’ll Message them now.”

“Sis?”

Gwen paused in the process of activating her Message Device.

“Thanks.”

“Hey.” Gwen flicked her hair cooly. “No worries, Champ. I got your back.”

Percy laughed.
It was a sound thrilling to her ear, a sound she hadn't heard since Sydney.

It was good to see that her brother still had a sense of humour, though now she had a far more harrowing task at hand. She hoped to God that Jun wasn’t doing the horizontal draconic-fandango when she rang.

She made sure that her Message was on silent.

“I’ll be back, stay here.”

Gwen made the calls outside, leaving her brother in the bedroom to ruminate on what he would say to Guo and Jun.

“Hi, Uncle Jun? You asleep? Er, is this a good time? Is it? Okay! Good! Ha! Thank God, phew! Hahaha- anyway, we got a situation here…”


* * *

Percy watched his sister through a gap left by the door.

Curiously, after his 'bonding' with the amulet, The Kirin Stone no longer ‘went ape-shit’. It had remained dormant the whole while they had conversed, even when she hugged him.

“Ariel, come here,” he commanded her Familiar.

“Eeee?”

Ariel drifted closer.

Percy ran a hand through its mane, feeling its luxurious coat run through his fingers.

“Beautiful.”

“Eee!” Ariel coiled itself around its mistress’s kin, sensing her familiar scent about his body, his hand, and his hair.

“But you’re imperfect.” Percy allowed Ariel’s tiny whisker-tentacles to play with his fingers. “You have lots of room to grow yet.”

“Eee! Eee.”

Ariel's draconian nose sniffed Percy's hand.

"EE?!" it recoiled, seemingly confused.

"Ariel?" Gwen pushed through the door of her bedroom. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Percy carefully slipped his hand into his pockets. "I was playing with Ariel. He's gotten cuter!"

"Isn't he?!" Gwen beamed.

Her expression said to Percy that the Guo and Jun would both be joining the two of them.

“Righto jackaroo." His sister slapped his back. "Saddle up; you and I, we're in for a wild ride."

 

 

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A note from Wutosama

Voting for the novel - voting :: Voting button 

Bonus ::  Gwen's Outfits 

Title Ref :: To her Door, Paul Kelly

1 more CH and we're back to Fudan for some sweet training.
DEC - JAN is going to be split between new CHs and Editing, for once I am not going overseas, so we'll see how it goes. 

 

Thanks for all the publication advice, guys. 

1. Finalising Manuscript <--- here at the moment, gonna clean up 1 - 97.5

2. Original Cover <---- on going , draft 1 is done, looking beautiful 

3. Professional Editing <---- waiting on 1 and 2 

4. Distrubtion <--- Lots of possibilities, will likely be attached to how 3 works out 


About the author

Wutosama

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

Achievements
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