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A note from Wutosama

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“A whole month! I was beginning to worry if you would ever make it," Walken's reprimand snapped like a cane, his tone equally accusatory and paternal. "You mustn't let the pride control you. There's no shame in asking for aid."

A month?
Gwen averted her gaze.
Just as she suspected, the old man had grown paranoid after she had left him neglected for a fortnight. By the same measure, his persistent attempt to undermine her confidence indicated a sustained interest at dimming her lights.

“Please accept my apology, Master Walken.” Her temple throbbed even as the platitude left her glossed lips. “Between classes and my part-time work, I’ve barely slept. And you're right. I tried to deal with my problem on my own, but I couldn't.”

“Then you have invested your time poorly,” Walken repeated his reprimand, then strolled about her person, inspecting her appearance and finding her attire lacking in conviction. “I see you're dressed to please. Do you have somewhere more important to go? I'd figured you more attentive to your studies."

"I am going out..."

Walken's glare would have made an Evil-Eye proud.

Gwen lowered her eyes and forced herself to focus on a point between her feet, glad that her disarming choice of floral, combined with her demure compliance, had tickled her target in just the right way.

"Unlike you, I’ve spent the month researching your condition.”

"Thank you, Sir. I am grateful."

“As you should be. What I found-” Walken edged beside her, close enough for conspiracy. “Will require some verification on your part.”

“You see, for sometime after my battle with Sobel, I became greatly interested in her ability to supersede the arcane fulcrum of Negative Energy. You of all people should know that Vitality-Mana consumption for high-tier AoEs cannot be sustained by low-Affinity users. For Sobel to deploy wide-range AoEs at Noosa Heads, or even against the Saurians, her affinity had to have reached 7 or higher.”

“And at tier 7.” Walken indicated at her forehead. “There are characteristic symptoms. I suspect that for both you and Sobel, the root of your mutual instability lies with an irresponsible rise in Affinity; a theory that accounts for Henry's plans to pace your training by balancing both Lightning and Void."

Gwen's ears perked up. The disparity of theory concerning the stability of her Void-talent, and indeed Spellcraft itself, was endlessly fascinating. Of her three instructors: her Master had forbidden haphazard experimentation, emphasising on intuition and natural growth. Wen's approach was entirely numerical, denoting that so long as she utilised 'N' Vitality, offset by corresponding positive energy, she should be fine. Now, as her third advisor, Walken instead pushed for an affinity-based solution: which made no sense unless he knew of a way to increase her elemental-sympathy, a process likely derived from Wen's revelatory papers.

“Can you clarify, Sir?” she implored her haughty Instructor. "About Sobel, I mean."

“The answer lies in the timeline of her demise.” Walken drew an invisible chart with his hands. “1976 was the Noosa Heads incident. 1972 was when Henry and I served on the Brisbane Line: he was a Field Commander, while I served with Command and Control, doing what Air Mages do best.”

And out of harm's way, Gwen thought snidely.
Meanwhile, her Master was knee-deep in corpses, commanding a stretch of the front a hundred kilometres long and four kilometres deep.

“The Saurian Truce happened in the summer of 1972, meaning between Sobel’s first Awakening in winter and her surviving Noosa in 1976, no more than three years and five months later, your Master reported Sobel's passing in 1979.”

Gwen finally realised what Walken was trying to get at.

“Are you saying Master had a hand… in rearing Elizabeth?”

“Undoubtedly,” Walken’s voice took on a hint of passion. “After Sydney, the Tower's Inquisitors discovered traces of a city-wide mandala, something that had been set up as a trigger for a strategic-class AoE. But during Noosa Heads, there was no way Sobel could have snuck into an unaffiliated base on a two-day visitation pass, not to mention the Mermen attack was entirely unprovoked and unforeseen. If so, how did she survive her magic? Even assuming it was self-perpetuating, the initial cost could have killed her outright.”

Gwen thought of Jane's tortured confession.
The girl had her back turned to Sobel, but it wasn't hard to imagine Sobel working through a few dozen Mages before she had enough to get her Black Sun jump-started.

“The answer is that in the years both before and after 1972, your Master had been working with Sobel, helping her tame her new found element, just as he was helping you. Back in the 70s, we didn’t know much about affinity-traits. The few geniuses that were renowned had their quirks and idiosyncrasies - but they were prodigies. Why shouldn't they be different? Towers were still going up one by one; cities were undergoing reclamation. What knowledge the Magisters of Western Europe managed to accumulate couldn’t be disseminated safely and reliably. We didn't have data-slates or Divination Towers, and Message Orbs were hardly common. To save his wife, Henry had to improve her affinity until it trivialised her expenditure.”

“That could explain why Sobel went mad in the end,” Gwen added to Walken's hypothesis, wondering how much Walken was in the know.

"Care to elaborate?" Walken invited her to continue.

Does he know about Hungary? She queried the man's eyes. What Walken knew had come from Faceless, but she had no idea if Faceless, fed a lifetime of resentment against her Master, was capable of anything other than a fabricated hyperbole. Conceivably, Walken's request was both a test and a desire for clarity. If so, she would tread lightly.

“Master spoke of it in bits and pieces.” She fidgetted with her dress, misdirecting his attention from her lying eyes. Blatant deception remained a challenge for Gwen, so she had chosen instead to redact the truth. “Master said that in Eger, he, Mark, Agnes and my grandfather hunted down his wife after she started draining random people to feed her growing hunger.”

“Did he speak of why her hunger grew out of control?” Walken enquired. His knowledge is incomplete, Gwen realised, noting the slight elevation in his tempo. Walken may have even spoken to Chandler at some point, but Gunther was hardly the type to leave a trail.

“I don’t know,” Gwen confessed. “According to Master, it happened overnight.”

She wasn’t about to say that against all expectation, Sobel had found herself pregnant and that in her desire to bear the future ‘Faceless’ to fruition, her Master's wife had embarked on a vitality-harvesting bender. If the world were to know that pregnancy could trigger such instability in a high-affinity Void Mage-

Her face blanched at the thought.

“I always suspected something had to have happened to Sobel,” Walken pondered aloud for his ward to hear. “When I first knew her, she had been a perfect English rose.”

"You knew her?"

"Both before and after Henry's intrusion into her life. As your Master's fiancèe, I knew her through dignitary functions. Before Brisbane, I had known of her while in England. She's the sole heir of a Baronet in Northumberland if I recall. I met her only once at a society-gathering, a childhood friend of mine, a future Countess, had planned a coming out soirée and Elizabeth tagged along."

"I didn't know Elizabeth was gay before she met Master," she remarked with surprise, playing on Walken's archaism. "Maybe that's why she-"

Walken opened and closed his mouth a few times; utterly flatfooted by her misunderstanding.

"Coming out to society," his voice rose an octave. "Stupid girl!"

"Sorry." She bit her lip. The things we do to please our men, Gwen sighed internally. It was a cynical truth that as an attractive young woman, the amount of effort she required to convince Walken of her naive simplicity was minimal. If she had been a Gunther-jawed young man, they'd be likely tearing each other apart by now. "If you recall, I attended a public school. And my family situation is... complicated."

At least the girl's opening up to him; Walken considered Gwen's supreme embarrassment - though he was beginning to gain a deeper glimpse into the abyss that was the girl's bruised and battered psyche: a neglectful father, an abusive mother, and then a dead Master - she had done well to survive her Void talent in one piece.

“I recall she was very meek.” The Magister's voice grew sympathetic. “As for your enquiry, all I can say is that Sobel was certainly the sort to attract a particular type of men.”

Did he mean her Master? What type? Gwen knitted her brows slightly. What’s Walken getting at now?

“You resemble Elizabeth, in many ways,” Walken continued, touching his chin contemplatively. “There’s a certain look, or quality; I should say, that you affect unconsciously. Have you never noticed that sometimes, men act strangely around you? They turn obsessive, jealous, or overbearing? You're a beautiful young woman, of course, but there's something unique to Void Mages, I noticed. A certain...”

Walken then gave her the most fatherly expression of assurance he could muster.

“Masochism?” Gwen blurted out her cousin's hypothesis, then immediately cursed her loose-lips, her face flushing with embarrassment.

Watching her contradictions, her opponent grew considerably concerned.

“It's a reasonable assumption, considering how so few of your kind survive to adulthood..."

“Which Master offset by raising Sobel's Affinity," she smoothly steered the conversation back on track.

“Ah yes,” Walken continued, taking her cue, equally eager to proceed past the awkward detour they had just taken. “As I was saying, Henry had to have found a way to increase Sobel's affinity. No matter her talent, there is no way to circumvent Allenberg’s Cost-Manifestation Quotient.”

The Magister paused.

“To wit, I had to consult with Sydney, trying to place your Master's training regime."

"With Irene?”

“That’s Magister Ferris to you,” Walken snapped. “You’d think Henry would have whipped some manners into you while he was busy picking away at your 'masochism'.”

Gwen parried the psychic assault by not daring to meet Walken's eyes. Her opponent smirked as she clutched her dress distressingly. It was super effective.

“It was Gunther Shultz, actually,” Walken continued off-handedly. “I am, after all, helping you in the IIUC. Magus Shultz likes to see you succeed as much as I. Sometimes, I am amazed at the restraint shown by those who walk the Tempered Path.”

“Brother’s patience surprises me as well,” she grumbled.

“It's a shame about that hellcat Sister of yours though; she's a right hellion. De Botton's lost her Caracal, didn't she? Had to drop the 'Scarlet' from her moniker. Now there’s someone I'd never figured for the Middle-Path.”

Gwen felt her Almudj's Essence tickling her throat. How many times did he have to gaslight her before he was satisfied? How paranoid could he be?

“Ah~, Alesia, the source of all our troubles," Walken continued to pry her weakness. "To think if she weren’t so blindly antagonistic, we would have profited each other in many ways. You could have been a liaison between Henry and myself, someone we both trusted, as it were.”

Strewth, the gall of this guy, Gwen swallowed hard, forcing her hands to relax. Her distressed-Disney princess facade was keeping up reasonably well, though if she were to fidget any more vigorously with her dress, she'd tear it in half.

Her Instructor chuckled.

“But back to business. Gunther informed me that Henry had used a custom mandala for your twin-elements. After all, regular arrays account only for pulling one Familiar out of the aether. Looking at Ariel and Caliban, I see two pseudo-spirits in their infancy, each capable of growth. I guess your late Master knew that finding you a Lightning and Void Spirit is likely going to be impossible, not to mention they’d neutralise one another at the first opportunity.”

“Wait…” Gwen raised a speculative hand. “Caliban’s a Spirit?”

“Of course.” Walken gave her a bemused look. “Why should Ariel be the only Spirit?”

“That can’t be right. Caliban!” she called forth her Familiar.

“Shaa!” Caliban coiled around her legs, its obsidian body stark against her white ankles.

“Caliban, are you a Spirit?”

“Shaaa?”

“Can you bend this? Void Bolt!” She shot a sliver of Void-matter at a Force Barrier, imagining her Familiar bending her bolt like Beckham.

Instead, Caliban turned to Walken, coiled to strike.

SHIT! Her disappointment gave way to apprehension. The empathic honesty of Familiars was a troublesome thing.

“SHAAA!” Caliban shrieked at the Magister menacingly.

“What's it doing?” Walken studied her serpent as it opened its carapace and menaced him with barbed tentacles.

“I am not doing anything.” Gwen shook her head vigorously, demanding Caliban calm the fuck down before it gave her game away. "Sometimes, Cali's got a mind of its own!"

“Then Caliban must possess an Ego: ergo, Caliban should be a Spirit.”

“But I can’t IFF my Void spells!” She complained desperately. Cali! She screamed internally. FRIEND! Well - Frenemy, she appended. But that might be too much for Caliban to understand.

“A matter of time and methodology.” Walken smirked as the worm calmed considerably. “All you have to do is improve the animus of your Familiar.”

“I don’t know how.” Gwen took the opportunity to pack her Familiar away.

“Ah, but I think you do.” Her Instructor's grin grew wider. “You have access to crystals, or so I’ve heard - a great deal of it. I know of a way in which we can improve both your affinity and your familiar, striking two birds with one stone. It's expensive, but that shouldn't be an obstacle for you.”

Gwen's heart skipped a beat.
Walken, you bunch-backed toad! Her mind exalted. I’ve got your pound of flesh right here, you Je- Filthy Spider!

“But crystals aren’t going to buy me Void Cores,” she fretted with her fingers. "No one knows if they even exist."

“Don't be so ignorant, child. Cores aren’t the only things you can feast on.” Walken edged closer, his eyes glinting with triumph and mastery. “Am I right?”

“Right…”

Walken's outstretched hand reminded her of that scene when Aladdin had invited Jasmine for a late-night carpet ride. Only Gwen's date was the mangy old Jafar, and the old man's bird of paradise was a Winged Serpent.

If he says 'do you trust me?' I am going to vomit on his shoes, Gwen thought. Thankfully, Walken wasn't nearly so romantic.

Swallowing her revulsion, she took it, her fingers clammy and sweaty.

Walken's brows pulled involuntarily. The man was a germaphobe.

“Say the word,” Walken forced himself to squeezed her hand. “And I can offer you Demi-human... and human resources.”

She stared at Walken; this time, her shock was entirely genuine.
In all honesty, Gwen had expected more euphemism.

“I am not a murderer,” Gwen whispered, still disbelieving her ears.

“Squeamish? Don’t fret.” He warmed her frigid fingers paternally. “These are free-range products from the Frontier, harvested from the most ethical sources. Each one comes with a compliance guarantee, sealed and delivered in stasis. We can start modestly, and if indeed your talent can make use of them, our Faction is willing to invest in your future wholly and without reserve.”

“But why?” Her voice drifted through the air, hanging by a silken thread. "Why me? Why should I trust you?"

“I can be your guardian,” Walken promised. “And a friend.”

When the girl failed to respond, Walken knew he had her against a cliff. With a final push, she would belong to the Grey Faction, where a single taste of the forbidden fruit would taint her in their colours, now and forever.

“I can be as Henry was,” he swore with great solemnity, so much that he felt genuinely invested in his masochistic orphan. “I would be better than Henry. I would never mistreat you.”

For a split-second, Gwen wondered if she had passed out from the sudden hypertension arresting her cardiovascular systems.

“Enough!” she growled.

“Enough?” Walken started. “Enough of what?”

“Of your bullshit!” Gwen's retort cracked over Walken like a bullwhip. Dragon-fear poured from her body like a tide.

Reflexively, Walken's knees faltered. Caught unaware, the Magister couldn't resist the natural compulsion of the girl's purer Essence. Alarmed, he realised she still held his hands, preventing him from casting somatic magic.

“I am going to fucking kill you.” Gwen’s mouth was moving before she could think. “How can you remotely believe that you can replace my Master? Join your Faction? You’re dreaming!”

Walken's expression shifted from surprise to anger to teeth-clenching anguish as Gwen ratcheted the pressure exerted by her hands, pressing the blood from Walken's fingers.

“Release me,” he commanded her. The girl’s grasp was twin-vices interlocking his palm, sending blades of white-hot agony stabbing into his brain. “Gwen, listen to me, there’s no profit in your anger. I spoke in jest, okay? You’re too easily incensed, so much so that there’s no sport in it.”

Further gouts of flaming fury blossomed in the furnace of her chest. Her Almudj’s Essence thrummed, thrilling her ear with the sound of hastened blood.

No sport in it?
A joke?
Was the man daft?

“Just you try.” Gwen let her mask drop. “How dare you gaslight me.”

“Gas- what? You’re losing it!” Walken’s voice took on a higher octave, his eyes watering. “Gwen! It’s your Dragon-Essence. It’s controlling you! Fight it, for Henry's sake!”

“Bloody hell, you’re so full of shit!” Gwen twisted her grip.

“!”

A current of Lightning-charged mana flooded into her body.

But Walken’s mana lacked the purity of her natural affinity. Between Gwen's Essence-enhanced body and her au naturale Lightning-affinity, she withstood his assault with only a slight-numbness.

'Crack!'

She crushed his off-hand. The full force of her pent-up Essence was formidable.

“ARRRGH!” Walken desperately fought her death-grip, beads of sweat fell from his head like a spring-shower. “Gwen, how… how DARE YOU!”

“And why wouldn't I dare?” Gwen screeched at him. “Come! Do your worst!”

In the confusion that followed, she allowed the man to go.

“Do you have a death wish?!” Walken materialised a Superior Healing Potion and stabbed it into his wrist.

In the next moment, the Magister was upon her, his hand at her throat, his body swirling with Air, crackling with motes of Lightning. He was fast, almost too fast for her eyes to follow. The man’s mastery over Spellcraft was far beyond her ken.

“Don’t hurt me!” She withdrew, suddenly afraid.

With one hand at her slender neck, Walken paused. By now he had sensed that something was terribly awry. Why hadn't the girl erected a Shield? Did she realise she’d gone too far? As his mind cooled, he realised that her lips, glossy as they were, were curled in triumph.

Shit! Walken baulked. What-

In the next moment, to Walken's utter surprise, the girl took a step forward so that his outstretched hand pressed upon her neck, just above her collar-dimple.

“Well?” Gwen mocked her target with emerald eyes infused with Essence. “You hunted me so untiredly, and now you pause for breath?”

But her 'Gwenism' did not seem to have the impact she'd hoped.
Walken’s tempestuous, rage-filled moment of irrationality receded as quickly as it had distended. In a way, it was immensely impressive. The man’s control over his emotions demonstrated that Walken had indeed mastered his Affinity-trait.

“What’s gotten into you?” The Magister switched gears, reaching for her shoulders.

“Oh, cut the crap, Walken.” Gwen rolled her eyes, brushing away his wayward hand. “Don't touch me. Let's stop the shit-shovelling, alright? It’s not like I don’t need you. I am just sick of all the crap that comes with your help. You're worse than bloat-ware.”

Unexpectedly, Walken appeared struck by a sudden epiphany.

“Are you being mind-controlled right now?” he demanded conspiratorially. “Who's in there right now? Are you willing to parley?”

“Who-what? Don't be absurd” Gwen backed away. She tapped a finger at her temple. “There's no one in here-”

Walken stared.

“God damn it, I am in here!” she stated seriously. “Me, Gwen Song.”

The Magister's expression grew even more suspect.

Now it was Gwen's turn to sigh. Was it that hard for Walken to believe that a teenager got one up on him? That he had lost? Was the theory that a bloody wizard had taken over her mind and was operating her like a finger-puppet easier to swallow than the fact that she had a mind of her own? Whatever the case, she would say her piece. The rest was up to Walken.

“Magister,” she began her prepared speech. All the pieces she had planned were now in place. “I have a proposal.”

“Alright, I am listening,” Walken remained on guard, both mentally and in the arcane sense. What if someone had one-upped him? He had heard that the Ashbringer's Dragon-consort was a user of Draconic-invocations: words of power tied to the creation of the Material world itself, unique to Mythic-class draconic-beings; if such a being-

The girl began to speak.

“You have knowledge and magic I want, and I can help you by emerging victorious in the IIUC, thereby ensuring you’ll be back in the good graces of important people,” Gwen kept her pitch low and her intonation perfect. “I want you to help me, really help me, without any of your manipulative bullshit. In return, I promise you full credit. Furthermore, when Alesia comes for you, I’ll do my best to ensure she keeps her vengeance in check, or at least give you a warning.”

“Absurd!” Walken retorted. “What a ridiculous offer, why would I be afraid of Alesia de Botton?”

“Because I’ll help her ambush you when you least expect it. Sure, maybe you're the superior Mage, but Alesia is tenacious. I’ll be astonished if she doesn’t blow up every venture you participate in, burn down every house you sleep in, turn to cinders every bed you lie in.”

“…”

What kind of absurd-logic was that?! Walken glared at the girl. Was this really the girl he’d try to sway to his side? What happened to the demure and pliant Void Mage with a history of histrionics? Who the hell was this Draconian that had replaced her?

“Not only that,” Gwen continued. “I’ll make sure the relevant people get a hold of this-”

“These are free-range products from the Frontier, harvested from the most ethical sources. Each one comes with a compliance certificate, sealed and delivered in stasis containers…” Walken’s voice played from a Message Orb hidden somewhere in the hem of her dress.

Walken's expression grew rigid.

He hadn’t even noticed! As devices predating Divination Towers, Ioun Stones had negligible traces of magic, not to mention the earlier models weren't of human origin. And to think he had presented it to her, bloody hell!

“Are you threatening me, young lady?” Walken demanded, advancing on her.

“Do you have a death wish?!” His voice answered him, followed by a girlish cry full of terror which unequivocally informed the listener of the circumstances under which the recording was made. “Don’t hurt me!”

“You!”

“Why would I be afraid of Alesia de Botton!” His retort mocked him.

For a moment, the Magister imagined mincing the girl with a Blade Barrier. But then he would have to flee, living out the rest of his life in the Wildlands as a Rogue Mage.

“I could just take that orb off you.” Walken changed the angle of his attack. “You can’t resist me.”

“I’ll D-D out of here, screaming blue murder, in my birthday suit if I have to.” The girl smirked at him. “You’re welcome to chase me all across campus if you’d like. I mean, a disgraced Magister abusing a popular, beautiful student, the Worm… The Flower of Fudan! What would people think?”

“You’re overestimating yourself.” Walken's forehead affected a sheen of sweat. “Give it here, now.”

“Ha!” Gwen chuckled. “Over my dead body.”

“That can be arranged-”

She took a step forward.

Walken backed away.

The girl took another step forward, pushing herself against him until the Magister’s waxen face grew scarlet.

“I could be bad to the bone,” Gwen remarked, her eyes boring into Walken's face, their nose almost touching. “Or I could be a good girl.”

Walken straightened his posture.
He wasn't a stubborn man.

“Fine. I'll bite.”

Gwen took a deep breath. Before anything, she had to draw the line.

“I could Consume you,” she opened blankly. “I’ll be in trouble, a world of trouble. But its only trouble.”

Walken’s mien grew grim.

“Whereas you can’t silence me. Hell, you can’t even maim me or hurt me, at least not bad enough to count.” She kept her tone plain and simple. “If you did, Gunther, Alesia, my grandparents, Uncle Jun the Ashbringer, and by extension Ayxin, will hunt you down to the ends of the earth.”

Her opponent chose to remain mum.

“Besides, it was you who initiated the difficulties between us. What had been Dean Luo’s offer? Take us through the IIUC, and you get to work yourself into the good graces of your Faction? Then what? Receive a position in China? Is that what he promised?”

“This and that,” Walken confessed.

“And instead, you took advantage of me… and my weakness,” Gwen spat the word between her pearly teeth with a hiss. “I am a quarter your age. Does that make you proud? The mighty Magister Walken? A bully and a liar?”

“I haven't lied to you.”

“Maybe not, but the truth you are peddling is awfully diluted.”

“Gwen…”

“Eric…” Gwen affected the same tone that her Master liked to use in his recordings, an effect which made Walken blink before he grew suddenly scarlet. “You still don't get it. We’re not in a position of mentor and mentee, nor a position of superior to a subordinate.”

“You and I…” she allowed the anaphora to linger, mocking Walken’s use of the words. “Are nothing alike. You and I: Eric, are at best companions rowing together up shit creek. We are equal in that regard. My benefit is your benefit; your gain is my gain. We both have to pull our weight and not drag each other down. If you think to profit from my loss, then you’re in for a world of hurt. Old Friend.”

Walken had to back-paddle as to take in the entirety of the girl within the scope of his vision. On the surface, what presented itself was an exquisite combination of dark hair, striking emerald eyes, a breathtakingly aesthetic mien and nubile limbs extending from a feminine sundress.

There was no hint of Sobel in Henry's old apprentice now.

Instead, her presence felt far older, elemental.

If he had not already seen her panicked and afraid, Walken would have thought her a Polymorphed dragon-kin, toying with his hopes and aspirations, laughing internally while he, Eric Walken, struggled like a vermin trapped by an Adhesion cantrip. There was no doubt about his blunder now. He had indeed entered their relationship full of purpose to empower the girl through her IIUC ordeal-

But he couldn't help himself. It was true what they say: old habits died hard.

When the moment arrived, when she stood before him, a bee box buzzing with indeterminate dark things thrumming to escape, the temptation proved too much. The girl had so much hurt in her that it threatened to spill like overwrought honey, the unintelligible thrumming of her aggression was a mob of maniacs.

He’d envisioned himself the salvation she sought, a Bee Keeper. If he could take Henry’s Apprentice for his own, it would be the ultimate triumph against an existence he could have never bested, more so in the wake of Kilroy's passing. When Gwen had paled and shuddered at his every word, that old fancy had seduced him like the sweetest nectar.

Walken did not sympathise with Henry’s manifesto, nor could he convince his old rival to believe in his. When he saw the girl, saw the gaping gash in her psyche, he instantly knew that she was the means by which he could finally put an old opposition to peace, not to mention mending his esteem.

Watching her defiant eyes, Walken felt full of ambivalence that the old fox had indeed found a kit worthy of continuing their antagonism.

But the time for moping had passed.
He would yield, for now.
Gwen was right.
Her allies in both Australia and China were strong; her higher ground was unassailable. Of course, if they were successful in their suit, as Fudan's advisor, he would accompany the team overseas: to Japan, to Korea, to North and South America, and inevitably, onto England.

And in England-

“Alright, Gwen. You win.” He extended a hand. “Truce.”

The girl took it; this time, she spared his fingers.

“Thank you.” The girl's eyes glinted mischievously, so much so that Walken almost considered withdrawing his amnesty. “More of a ceasefire, I’d say, but I do look forward to working with you, Eric.”

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A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref :: The Arrival of the Bee Box by Sylvia Plath

Bonus ::  Gwen's Outfits  
Glossary and Magic System :: Glossary 

Voting for the novel :: Voting button  


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Wutosama

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

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