Gwen returned to the duelling arena, on foot this time, cowed and bowed in apology.
By now, a line around the block had formed, waiting to greet a legendary Kirin for good luck. A few kind words were exchanged, then Gwen was told to sit down and not to obstruct the audience's view.
Finding a seat by the side, all Gwen could do was endure the sensation of been tickled inside out as Ariel anointed people with its tentacle whiskers and allowed the cohort to touch its hoof-frog.
The favourable treatment of Ariel wasn't by chance. The proximity of the Lantern Festival made the Kirin's presence all the more auspicious.
After an hour, Petra took a leave, thus leaving Gwen and Tei Bai to sit by the arena while the line grew ever longer. With her face flushed and her white legs crossed over as she sat on the pull-out bench, Gwen looked a treat beside the sombre-looking Tei, wearing grey on charcoal on white, looking like a junior funeral director.
“In your opinion, Senior Tei, what are good match-ups for me?” Gwen asked the veteran IIUC contestant. They had been passing olive branches for the last sixty minutes, and now the topic had fallen to one of common interest.
“Someone with your skill set would be fantastic as a counter-aggressor," the Abjurer-Enchanter stated with great sagacity. "If I were the team Captain, I’d get you to butt-heads with their offensive casters. With your firepower, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could suppress two of the opposing team’s casters, bonus if you can pull in their controller.”
“What if they banish my Familiars?” Gwen inquired with a hint of cattiness.
“Ha!” Bai laughed. “I’d have Caliban and Ariel protected with Abjurations against spells that disrupt their morphic-form. Of course, I’d have to go and learn those spells, but they’re not difficult.”
“I’d love that.” Gwen pondered the stratagem. "Can I apply said Abjurations to my Familiars?"
"Of course, but it's a reactive skill with passive components. It's either that or your offence."
"Ah." Gwen drummed her fingers against her thighs. The first-world problem of a sorceress of many Schools was that she had only one head.
“Other than that, your affinity offers longevity in combat. From what I can see, you have mana to spare, so I’d say you’re a boon in protracted battles. As a spear-point offence, you should be front and centre, overpowering the enemy's offensive casters, suppressing their formation so that our controllers can separate their Abjurers.”
For some time, the two had been conversing about the informal ‘roles’ within the IIUC competition. Though flexible, Bai had informed his junior that the general makeup of a Ten-man team consisted of four core functions.
Four members for Offence.
Two members for Defence.
Two members for Control.
Two members for Utility.
Members selected for offence usually involved Mages with high damage potential, chosen for their mana affinity, damage output, AoE potential, and the possession of a Spirit.
“Which means you’re perfect in that regard,” the Dust Mage argued. “I’ve never met another student with as much damage output as you. If we had someone with both Void and Lightning when we went up against Tokyo U…”
"Ha, I promise to please." Gwen blushed, more so because she was halfway squirming via Ariel, but also because of the confidence boost after the Dean’s righteous-rebuke of her arrogance.
According to Gwen's Senior, the two members for defence needed to possess the ability to Shield and weather massive damage for the team. Senior Tei played the role of the stationary Abjurer, whose speciality was defending a particular zone or location. The second Abjurer was responsible for mobile-defence, such as when the teams needed to be always on the move.
“An Abjurer-Conjurer with high affinity and high mobility would be best. Or an Abjurer-Transmuter.”
Of course, Gwen was an Abjurer-Conjurer as well, though she had never practised Shielding others. According to Richard, a superior Abjurer-Conjurer, the most important thing was to anticipate the enemy’s attacks and to Shield your allies only when the precise moment arrives. As an example, Richard could Shield and deflect monsters incoming at Lulan mid-leap so that the girl could preserve the tremendous momentum of her strikes, catching her targets in a moment of weakness.
“As for Control, we’re looking at Mages capable of creating snares, barriers, traps, wards, or even Translocation specialists, assuming an open-map,” Bai explained. “Enchanters, Transmuters, Conjurers, Illusionists, it's an open position for filling holes left by Offence and Defence-”
"Ah~," Gwen stifled a moan.
“Eee!” Ariel sang out. “Eee! Eee!”
“STOP FEEDING MY FAMILIAR!” Gwen shouted across the arena.
Beside her, Bai fumbled for a moment, though as with one gifted in the talent of Dust, his passion diminished as quickly as it came.
By now, Ariel was visibly more substantial.
Being students from an elite university, sparing an HDM or two wasn’t an obstacle for Ariel’s starry-eyed worshippers. Combined with the fact that her Familiar was a glutton, Ariel had gauged crystalline treats by the hundreds. As it were, its last admirer had dropped a raw chunk of unprocessed high-density crystal.
“Sorry, please continue,” Gwen apologised, circulating her essence. Maybe that's the problem; she wondered self-critically. Meditating with Almudj's blessing had been the panacea to all her problems. Sleep deprivation? Hunger? Illness? Too much alcohol? Period cramps? Thirsty? Head Ache? Bloating? Every discomfort can be solved with primordial Draconic-essence.
“Uh…yes, well…” Bai gave himself a moment to tear his eyes away. For some reason, the girl positively glowed. “So, the final two members are typically Enchanters, Buff-specialists, Quasi-healers, Diviners, and so on.”
“Why not a full-time healer?”
“Positive-Energy Mages are too specialised,” Bai explained. “The idea is to avoid healing altogether. As for medical treatment, there are usually healers from the host-nation on stand by, from associated universities. For example, Fudan has an allotment of healers from the Renai Teaching Hospital.”
Gwen immediately thought of Elvia.
“Only after we arrive on location are the Quests revealed to the contestants. Usually, there are two teams going head to head, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more. The IIUC attempts different tournament formats every year to ensure students don't game the system.”
“Can you give me an example?”
Bai gave the question some thought.
“I’ll do my best.”
Gwen gave her thanks.
“As a speciality of the IIUC, the location generally determines the type of Quest and competition. To use an overseas example, Fudan has only ever made it out of Asia once, in 1996. Our students were sent to the South Korean peninsula to join the Front there against the northern incursion.”
“What else? Against the Undead, the IIUC appropriated an open-cooperative Quest. Examiners awarded points based on how well the students worked with each other, with other teams, and with the local Militia. Further points were granted based on the number of undead eradicated, General-Class creatures destroyed, and so on.”
“Were the students in danger?”
“Absolutely,” Bai affirmed her fears. “Not everyone made it back. I heard that our team lost three of its members and had to withdraw from the competition. Bit off more than they can chew, snake trying to swallow the elephant, or so the Arbitrators said.”
Gwen tried to imagine what such a situation would entail. Was it like running smack-bang into a Sea Priest and her cohort of General-class warriors?
“As for recent years, the inter-Asian stage of the competition is far less dangerous. Generally, it's best to think of the competition as a Dungeon Crawl or a mock Quest. This year, for instance, we lost against Tokyo U and Seoul N.U, we managed to match points against Tsinghua, but they weren’t fully committed.”
“What was the exam format?”
“Competitive Dungeon Clear,” Bai transcribed the details. “A little like Hengsha, you know Hengsha Island?”
“I was there this year,” Gwen informed her Senior.
“Oh?” Bai blinked. “Ha, I was there two years ago. How wonderful. Anyway, our match against the internal-division took place in Tibet, near Mount Kailash. Teams fought to reach the nest of the Kailash Ice Roc, with one of its eggs as the objective.”
That's terrible! Gwen furrowed her brows; to poach the egg of a sapient creature for a competition? Why not just plant a fucking flag or something.
“Tsinghua U managed to nab the egg in the end. We were busy fending off Harpies and other avians while one of their Clanners snuck up there and accomplished the objective. When he came down the mount, the bastard brought the Roc with him. Chased all five teams the entire way down to Lhasa!”
“I imagine that took a lot out of you.”
“I wasn’t in the party,” Bai grunted. “Questing parties are five strong, chosen by the team leader to tackle a Quest. The rest of the members are on back up. I was doing community service in Lhasa when the Roc started pounding on the Shield, screeching and skirting the dome while feathers the size of cars rained down into the city.”
“So anyway. That was a Quest going well."
"That went well?!"
"Ha!" Bai shrugged. "In Tokyo, it was Fudan and Peking against Kyoto U and Toyko U. Maybe the Japs were looking down on us, or maybe they didn’t want to expend the effort. The competition was a mock-contest over territory over two valleys. An hour in, their Shikigami ripped through our formation. By the time we're done, they had twice the points we had.”
“In Seoul, we fared a bit better, though the result speaks for itself. The teams were each assigned an area to 'pacify'. We managed to purge the local Shui-Guai, that’s water-demon, without problems, but…”
“We later heard that the local team from Seoul U chased their monsters into our area…”
“… They can do that?”
“They got more points than we did, so I can only assume yes.”
Gwen made a face.
“That's the long and short of it.” Bai shook his head. “Ancient history now. Anyway, you're helping us out? I almost had a heart attack when you Dimension Doored out of here.”
“Sorry,” the prideful sorceress apologised again. Of course, the person she was most sorry toward was her cousin, whom she’d snapped at without reason and with the temperance of a fool drunk on power.
“Don't mind it.” Bai checked his watch in a way that made it very clear he was late. “I am sorry to say that the display is supposed to have closed an hour ago. We got lessons to go to...”
Gwen looked at the line of growing worshippers.
Her heart sank.
Just how many times did she have to apologise in one day?
“Hold it… Head forward,” Petra commanded. “Now sneeze!”
“ERGH! YUCK!” Gwen watched the blood clots drain down the sink. When it came to bleeding noses, she was the type to swallow, fearful of it leaking over her clothes. As a result, returning to the apartment in the evening, she could feel something stuck in her oesophagus and behind her nose.
“Looks like when you charge yourself up with Draconic-Lightning, you have to discharge before it overtaxes your vitals. There's only so much a mortal body can handle.” Petra noted with concern. “God, I was so worried when you started spraying blood all over the arena.”
“It wasn’t that bad, was it?”
“It was spectacular,” Petra assured her. "Positively spurting. If this were Eastern Europe, you would have drawn every Vampyre in a hundred-kilometre radius."
“Next time, I’ll just shoot it into the sky. The university bans flying for a reason, right?”
“You’ll hit the ceiling,” Petra pointed out. “Also… next time?”
“Goddamn it.” Gwen wiped her face. “What do I do, Pats?”
“No idea…but…” Petra patted her on the shoulder. “I’ll ask Master.”
“Er…” Gwen hesitated. “Let me ask around first. Magister Wen's barred from studying my Draconic-essence.”
“Oh right.” Her Cousin blinked. “I wonder who could help us?”
"Is that wise?"
The scale on her neck thrummed gently, almost maternal in its regulation of her energies. Was it helping her or making it worse? Somehow, Gwen doubted the Dragon-kin would give her an honest answer.
On Friday, Professor Ma paid her a visit after class.
“So, what do you say?” James Ma sat opposite Gwen in her office. “Full credit - full marks, assuming you take the job.”
Ma's offer made perfect sense.
Attendance was compulsory, but the second-year management and economic courses hardly titillated her existing knowledge.
Ma had initially come to ask Gwen questions about auditing roles like the Project Manager, Program Management Officer and the procedure involved in replacing operators found guilty. Gwen’s response was to implement more frequent accounting via Gatekeeper auditors as well as independent advisors focusing on Risk Analysis.
After a dozen organisation flow-charts, the topic of conversation then turned to the scant time both Gwen and Ma had left for their university courses. In a stroke of inspiration, the Professor offered Gwen the position of Teaching Assistant.
Gwen touched an ink-less pen to her lips, one of the many quasi-magical conveniences she had come to relish.
“Can I look through the course work first?”
Ma materialised for her the Instructor's outline of Management GEN200M and Economics GEN200E.
Second-year Management focused on Project Management, something Gwen knew well: in the past, she had dealt with long-term projects dozens of times. Ma's course taught Mages to delegate and assign tasks via a pyramidal hierarchy with themselves at its apex. In Gwen’s learned eyes, the primitive system was itself the primary cause for incompetence and corruption. In a region like China, rarely do the most skilled or respected leaders rise to the fore. Instead, social climbers wielded the most influence.
It was particularly interesting to Gwen how despite Dear Leader Mao's ability to beat back the Clans, the Houses and the Scholar-Bureaucrats, the hierarchal structure of the CCP and the Districts it used to house its NoM population was closer to Imperial-Feudalism. In reality, cities like Beijing and Shanghai sat like the Kings of old in the era of North and South Dynasties, a 'Peking' and 'Nanking', lording over its satellite regions like fat spiders perched on their web.
Economics, on the other hand, dealt with shallow systems of accounting and auditing, following by supplementary occupations in developing a command-system. The fact that the theory sanctioned by the party advocated a socialist economic model almost made her laugh out loud, especially when one of her lecture notes called for the elimination of class distinction by reducing the exploitation of the NoM masses by the capitalist NoM Oligarchs. In her eyes, most of the theory fell into purposeless prose, arguing that ultimately, everyone was equal, but Mages were more equal than NoMs.
“Are you serious?” Gwen pointed to the ‘objective’ section of the text. "Did the Clans compose this drivel?"
“As educators, we ward our students against the temptations of capitalism.”
Despite her best efforts, Gwen snorted. There was no point arguing that Marxism was terrible, only that like More's ‘Utopia’ of nowhere, the unreachable Buddhist nirvana, or the Daoist notion of piercing the heavens; it was an ideal, not practical in the least. Despite generations of indoctrination that communism served the needs of the proletariat, a simple gander at the disparity of prosperity between Shanghai and its surrounding regions demonstrated the precarious instability of repressive regimes whose arcane bureaucrats who thought themselves above the NoMs.
“You can’t seriously believe that, Sir,” Gwen retorted reflexively before realising she’d acted out of turn. Whenever the topic of economics came up, she grew forgetful that Ma was a senior member of the CCP and her mentor, not her colleague.
“Don’t let anyone else hear you say that,” Ma warned her. “Practicals are one thing, our ideal mustn’t falter.”
The two glanced guiltily at Ruì sweating gently despite the glyph-cooled air. In all likelihood, the others had heard as well. Though Gwen understood this world wasn’t yet the type where MSS goons were dragging journalists into the dead of night, she nonetheless shivered.
“Yessir,” Gwen apologised loudly. "We will do our best to improves the lives of all present, NoMs and Mages equally.”
Somewhere from the other end of the office, Ken cleared his throat, trying to stifle a snicker. The expressions on Gwen’s NoM employees, however, remained solemn and stoic.
Saturday, Club Induction Day.
“I feel guilty that you’re feeling guilty…” Tei Bai, accompanied by a mob of his juniors and Seniors, commented. “Isn’t this false advertising?”
“I’ll come and help out now and then,” Gwen promised the Duelling Club veteran. “If anything, I’d like more info on the IIUC, as well as spar with you.”
“Then you’ll join the club?”
“Officially? Of course. I won’t have time for competitions, though,” Gwen forewarned her senior. At the very least, not before she'd resolved her 'issues'.
“No problems.” Bai glanced at his moon-eyed juniors. “So long as you lend us our new mascot now and then, hahaha.”
The two turned to look at the new display the Duelling club had set up first thing Monday morning.
Next to the Fudan Duelling Club’s old logo was a new one. In the middle was the Qin Era pictogram for Fudan written in Chinese. Besides the old banner was a projection of Gwen, her striking face beautiful beyond measure, her lips parted as she pointed a finger toward the audience. As her eyes fluttered, a voiced Illusion proclaimed, “WE WANT YOU for the FUDAN DUELLING CLUB.”
Across and to the left of the visage of her face was an Illusion of Ariel in all its draconic-glory with the caption: “NEW members will receive a chance to meet the blessed Kirin of Fudan, [Air]”
The pictogram character for ‘Air’, like Fudan’s logo, had been converted to the two-millennia-year-old script from the Qin Dynasty, painting Ariel with an atmosphere of authentic antiquity.
“Eeee?!” Ariel flirted with its visage, purring and rubbing itself against the enchanted projector.
“Ariel will be in your care.” Gwen bowed. “I’ll be over to help after my classes. I am afraid Tuesday and Thursday are all I can manage.”
“That’s plenty.” Tei Bai inclined his head slightly, though his juniors made a full-bodied show of respect. “As I said, if there’s anything you want to know, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll also ask a few of the other old-timers if they're willing to talk to you. Many of the IIUC alumni originally hail from the F.D.C.”
“Thanks, Senior Tei.” Gwen retreated, waving at her peers. “I'll retrieve them at 16:00.”
“I’ll only be half a campus away,” Gwen told her Kirin. She then turned to her restored Mongolian Death Worm. “Be a good boy now, look after Ariel, and listen to Senior Tei!”
By the weekend, the rumorous wind had blown Gwen's friends together to 'cheer her up'.
Petra came home to an unexpectedly too-full house, already entertaining Tao and Mina, who’d initially wanted to eat out with Gwen. There was Lulan as well, who came to mooch dinner, and Kusu, who had come to apologise for his sister's shamelessness. There was Richard, who came to see what was up, as well as Mayuree, who joined them later. Finally, there was Dai, who'd shown up wondering if he could show Gwen his good side.
When the living room grew too stifling, Mayuree offered to take them up.
"It's no bother!" the girl told everyone. "Gwen's like a sister to me! Treat the place like your own!"
Upstairs, an annoyed Marong and a peevish Kitty welcomed the unwelcome guests. The two had previously been enjoying a quiet evening. Marong was meditating in a cloud of smoke, while Kitty trained by keeping the Smoke Mage contained to his ochre-walled room.
Emerging from the pantry, Lei immediately propelled into action, mixing drinks and heating dim-sims with an efficiency only she could manage.
Once they settled in, the badgering began. Gwen was teased within a millimetre of her paper-thin skin, though the chastisement was carried out in good faith.
Sensing her friend's growing embarrassment, Mayuree intervened, enacting the very purpose she had visited Gwen in the first place.
“Here.” The Diviner did not attempt to hide a prideful countenance as she slipped an item over the table toward Gwen. “I had a feeling you’re going to run into even more trouble from now on, so I had these prioritised.”
“Care to clarify?”
“Ha!” Mayuree chuckled, then more seriously, she said 'No'.
Recognising the stupidity of her question, Gwen instead opened the first box.
“Your hands are full, so I had those re-made as a pair of earrings.” Mayuree pointed to the sparkling pair of stones. “They’re glamoured as well. From the outside, they should be entirely discrete.”
“Is that…” Petra took a closer gander. The crowd leaned in as well. “A Mind Ward Amulet?”
“Earrings,” Mayuree corrected Gwen's cousin. “The left is for Mind Lock and Resist Glamour; the right is for Resist Illusion.”
“They're beautiful.” Mina's eyes sparkled, touching a finger to her choker. “Mine’s Resist-Glam and Resist-Illusion. These don't come cheap!”
“Of course not, but the House of M is generous.” Mayuree smiled smugly, noting Dai's discerning expression and Mina's half-parted lips.
Of course, she was grateful toward Mina and Dai as well, hence the invitation to her abode. Thanks to their showy spendthrift, all of their friends and their friends had signed up to the House of M’s new credit-programs, hoping to one day receive the mysterious invitation to join the Orichalcum Cabal.
“A little too generous,” Dai grunted, his face full of misgivings. “Gwen, that's an expensive gift. Are you sure it doesn't come with a price to match?”
Mayuree fluttered her eyes at Gwen.
Gwen blinked back at her friend, indicating there was nothing between them.
“It's the other way around, Dai,” Gwen assured her questioning employee-cum-admirer. “Not to mention I provided the ingredients myself.”
Dai folded his arms; he looked up to see Marong standing beside Kitty. Disinterestedly, the man blew a smoke-ring at Dai. Who's that? A bodyguard? The Fung heir felt a wave of annoyance.
“And this…” Mayuree slid over the second item. “Is your other special order.”
She opened the box.
There, sitting inside folded velvet, was an amulet that phased out of sight whenever one looked away.
“Is that a Foglet Core?” Petra recognised the rare ingredient immediately. “You’re joking! A Ghosting Amulet?!”
“Is it expensive?” Lulan asked.
"Of course it's expensive," Kusu cautioned his sister. Having an understanding of these situations, he made sure he was standing behind Lulan when Mayuree gave a modest, undervalued estimate.
“Umm… about 22,000 thereabouts?”
How many crystals was that? Lulan cocked her head.
Despite her woeful monetary skills, Lulan attempted to surmise the five digit number that had escaped from Mayuree’s rich-bitch lips. The weekly rent for her and Kusu’s apartment was 90 HDMs for a B13 suite at 40 square meters with one bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. The suite itself was just under 10,000 HDMs to purchase. Did this mean Gwen wore two studio apartments around her neck?
Lulan's head throbbed.
Kusu caught his sister just as her body turned rigid, then slowly grew limp.
‘It’s glamoured for ease,” Mayuree added quickly. “No one will know you’re wearing it. It’s a contingency item, after all.”
Dai's brows grew solemn. Was Gwen obscenely wealthy even before working with his father? Not even he could waste his allowance on an item like this. If so, why did Gwen scam him for a mere thousand HDMs when they first met? Was it to make him lose face? Was it for the favour?
The Fung heir suddenly felt his shirt drenched with cold sweat.
“Here, let’s put it on.”
Gwen brushed back her hair while someone of the right height - namely Richard, clasped it around her neck. After invoking the attunement glyph, the necklace turned to air. It made sense though; such items were worn permanently. Like her Contingency Ring, it wasn't leaving her body until it activated, or she died.
The earrings too soon adhered to her dawn-tinted lobes. As promised, they looked like tiny diamond studs once the glamour activated.
"Beautiful!" Mina clapped.
Lulan's watery eyes sparkled.
“Gwennabitch, you got any notion how pimped yo ass is right now?” Tao whistled. “You’re more tricked out than a mermaid hustler!”
Gwen grinned, her confidence restored. Excluding Gunther’s Ring, she was wearing quite the list of useful items.
A Ring of Evasion.
A Translator Ioun Stone.
An Ioun Stone of Clarified Thought.
A Ghosting Amulet.
A Large Storage Ring.
And her high-end Message Device.
Once she was free from the confines of a tier 1 city and had to make her way into the Wildlands, everything from armour to wands to Golems were hers to purchase, with only her ability to generate crystals as the limit.
“I’ll follow you anywhere, Master Song!” Lulan professed, her eyes welling with crystal-filled wonder. Under her breath, Lulan thanked her unthankful ancestors that she left that abusive, armpit of a mountain Clan.
The rest of the party laughed, filling the high-ceilinged penthouse with the sound of shared mirth.
“Okay, okay,” Gwen calmed her audience while Lei served up the drinks and snacks. “Since you're all here, I want to let everyone here know that I’ve run into some problems, and I would like to discuss an intervention.”
Her friends and family gazed at one another.
“I think that I’ve trained a little too quickly for my own good,” Gwen confessed. “Though I haven’t checked recently, my Lightning Affinity thanks to Ariel is hitting close to 7. I am also in possession of Draconic-Essence, as many of you know, which is exacerbating the problems caused by my affinity.”
“Humble-bragging?” Dai burst out with a snort, almost spilling his drink. Casually, he willed away the wayward droplets. Tier 7 and she's just beginning her Path? He took a sip. The insanity of it all.
“I am serious,” Gwen declared tragically. “The other day, I was duelling Senior Tei - we made up by the way-”
The others grinned.
“Tao! Not like that,” Gwen reprimanded her cousin. “Anyway, I was losing, and for a moment I lost my marbles. I wanted to win so much, that I told Caliban to Consume his Shield, and then I tried to lay down a Cloud Kill in the duelling arena. After that, as you know, Dean Luo gave me a tongue lashing.”
Her peers grew solemn.
“Well, does anyone have any advice to give?”
As expected, Mum's the word.
“Good luck with that," Dai remarked. "There are not many Mages with your affinity, much less at the natural tier. Even Lu is tier 4 plus Wanli.”
“What Dai says is true,” Petra pipped in. “According to Master, you’re tier 6 without Ariel. Most Mages are tier 3 plus Spirit. You're going to need someone just as special and rare, but when you add in Draconic-essence...”
“Same here, I am tier 4 naturally.” Richard raised his hand. “Lea provides the rest. I suppose I am already pretty easy going though, and a little lazy, haha. We Water Mages have it easy.”
“Lazy? You’re a workaholic!” Gwen accused her cousin. “Weren't you apartment-hunting?”
“Still looking,” Richard replied.
“I can help,” Mina interjected. “Me and Tao, that is, what do you need?”
“Ha, the Wang Group buildings are a bit rich for my blood.” Richard scratched his head. “I am looking for something near the low-end suburbs, not inner city.”
“Well, let us know…” Mina imposed herself. “I’ll take you to see some properties if you like.”
“I might take you up on that offer.” Richard smiled back. “Give me time.”
Dai touched his chin tentatively. Gwen's cousin, looking for a house?
Gwen looked around the room: indeed, her family, including the most knowledgable Petra, had no solutions for her dilemma. Sighing gently, she listened as the crowd continued their banter, thinking just how the hell she was going to wrangle her impulses.
CCs? She entertained the thought.
200 CCs if you can teach me not to freak when I compound Draconic-essence and my Lightning. But could she do that? Would she want to do that? Expose herself, allow a stranger to probe her? In a way, she wished Dean Luo had been harsher. How as she going to learn a lesson at this stage? Where was the follow up? It wasn't like the Dean just to let something like this go, not after all the interest he had taken in her. Was the man cooking up something in the dark?
She bit her lip.
Was Petra right in saying she was a masochist?