Metaworld Chronicles

by

Wutosama

Chapter 236 - A Paradox of Prophesy

Advertisement
Remove

A note from Wutosama

Don't forget to :: Vote


It took another week for Percy to return to school.

Meanwhile, the public news was that Alain Yang had taken seriously ill and that the boy would be taking the rest of the term off to recuperate. Naturally, rumours were cultivated, then flew circles around the campus.

Some said that Alain’s condition was a result of his House’s inter-factional drama. Others alluded to the strange co-incidence that Percy’s sister had visited the Clan of Yang.

A few well-connected informants remarked that after Biomancers had performed examinations on the young Alain, they found no injury nor signs of magic used on the boy. As for Gwen, she had been with the family the entire time, going as far as to take Vivian Yang’s abuse for a good ten minutes before she lost her temper and left in a huff.

Later in the week, new rumours surfaced.
Gwen's culpability was further 'refuted' by Mei herself, who proudly informed the others of the fact that Secretary Song had recommended Mei’s mother for an escalated promotion. In one bound, she moved from the relatively impoverished District of Zhejiang to the Central Administrative Region of Shanghai proper.

The student cohort took note, as did the teachers. The incident impressed upon the minds of the busy students that the House of Song had repaid insult with unbridled generosity. That and no one wishing to keep their pants unsoiled should mess with Percy Song.

But Percy's school life was no longer Gwen’s concern.

Percy’s sister was now neck-deep in training, paddling through her mid-semester practicals and Tonglv paperwork, riding her Essence like a bucking dragon as April approached, bringing with it the pre-selection round for the IIUC.

Buoyed by their mutual understanding, Walken took up the majority of Gwen’s training, working to push her toward her best condition.

When Week 8 came to a close, Gwen paid another one of her bi-weekly visits to Magister Wen, whose stoic undertaking of harvesting Void-Matter continued unabated. This time, for Wen's biometric update, an unwelcome guest in the form of a cocky Englishman overlooked her shoulder.

Once all the measures were done, Walken, babulya, Wen, and Petra all sat together looking over Gwen's records.

Annoyed with the stickybeaks over her shoulder, Wen read out the numbers aloud one by one. 

“Evocation 5.01.”
“Conjuration 5.74.”
“Transmutation 3.25.”
“Abjuration 2.44.”
“Divination 1.65.”
“Illusion 2.25.”

“St Peter's ghost.” Petra sucked in a breath of cold air. “Your Conjuration growth is absurd! Every tier of Affinity is exponentially more difficult."

"You haven’t been snacking, have you?” Wen remarked suspiciously. Even Petra, with all her practice and research, focusing solely on Enchantment, just edged past tier 6.

Gwen's expression grew instantly sour - were effort and hard work that hard to believe?

“Why the surprise?” Walken placed himself between his student and her critic. “She practices with hyper-tier magic, and she has two Familiars conjured most times of the day. Her expenditure on a good day of practice exceeds 800 VMI, over five times an average acolyte of her age. Perhaps the question should be why her Conjuration isn't higher.”

The two Magisters exchanged a chilly back and forth.

“Doing unusually well with Transmutation as well,” Wen continued, tapping the paper. “Care to explain?”

“Flight tutorials,” Gwen declared her extra-curricular activities. Thanks to a suite of body-enhancements, she was growing accustomed to the G-force exerted by the drops, loops, and sudden accelerations required for dog-fighting, though she had years of catching up to reach Alesia's state of absolute ease, likewise lacking Kitty's natural talent. For now, aerial Void and Lightning Bolt were at a passing rate, while higher-tier magic required momentary immobilisation.

Her other first-world regret was the disuniform flight capacity of her creatures. The entire time Ariel dog-paddled beside her effortlessly, she had fantasised about Caliban flying alongside. Capturing a Magical Beast capable of Flight, however, would have to wait until her next opportunistic adventure. Likewise, if there were ways to get her Draconic-deerhounds aloft, it would revolutionise her tactics.

“And your VMI…” Walken read on, ignoring his counterpart. When he got to Gwen's metrics, he couldn't help but take a moment to process what he was seeing. "Marie, is that reading accurate?”

“It’s correct, Magister Walken.” Magister Wen cleared her throat. "And its Marie-Roslyn, you may call me by my title."

“Of course, Marie-Roslyn,” Walken thought out aloud. Seeing Gwen's statistics, he couldn't help but be reminded of his fight with Sobel. “Looking at Gwen, one wonders what Elizabeth Sobel could measure. When we fought, she certainly suffered no shortage of mana nor vitality. The woman was a veritable engine of Void-infused destruction.”

“A high Affinity with a VMI over a two or three thousand ought to do it,” Wen observed with displeasure. “I read your report of the Sydney incident. Volumetrically, the Conjure Elemental she deployed would have consumed just over a thousand VMI.”

"Mmm... yes, her coverage was certainly... impressive," Walken noted.

"I hope you mean monstrous." Gwen's grandmother raised both brows. "I worry for Gwen if that woman's her enemy."

"Shultz and de Botton are Sobel's enemies too," Walken reminded Gwen's babulya. "If I were Sobel, I'd worry about the Morning Star first and foremost."

Beside her Instructors, their student was in a world of her own, thinking about her Void Elementals, recalling what they had done to that herd of Draconic-Stags. Just the memory was enough to make her shiver. That somehow, combined with Caliban, such a thing had brought her the most orgiastic experience of her life - a euphoric encounter arguably better than sex - AND boosted her Lightning Affinity, was most disconcerting.

‘CLAP!’

Walken's hands met in prayer, waking Gwen from her chamber of horrors.

“Well, that’s it!” he announced. “Time to send our baby chick into the world and see how far she could fly.”

“It’s only April.” Gwen regarded her Instructor with alarm. “The IIUC doesn’t start until August.”

“Nonetheless.” Walken was brimming with confidence. “You and your teammates will have to pass muster. The first few should be without incident, I would think. As for the others, we shall see.”

Gwen nodded. With Petra having declined her invitation, it was down to herself, Richard, Lulan and possibly Kitty. Of the three, it was Lulu who worried her. Though the Sword Mage was a fantastic disrupter, her lack of a Spirit made her uncompetitive when pitted against Mages who could rely on their Spirit to manifest magic, possessing both IFF and the means to divert Lulan’s attacks and attack at the same time. Likewise, while Lulan could use her Spell-flurry to negate bodily damage, her berserker-state required extensive recovery time, mayhap even medical attention.

For this reason, since January, Gwen had asked Mayuree to look out for Earthen Cores with Elemental Spirits, even a minor one, though no suitable specimens had made it through the House of M’s Auction House since the beginning of the semester.

Still, they had until August. If Lulan were to be knocked out, Gwen would lose a vital ally.

“If you are all done, I am returning to my laboratory.” Petra's teacher appeared not in the mood for socialising.

Considering Wen's research had saved Walken's life, Gwen found it strange that the Magister seemed turned off by Walken. Likely, the astute academic instinctively sensed that Walken was a rotten apple.

"Not staying for lunch?" Gwen's babulya implored.

"Not today, Klavdiya."

“Magister Walken.” Gwen’s babulya extended an open hand. “Will you be joining us? Petra?”

Petra looked to her Master, who gave consent.

“You have until 2 PM.” Wen bowed her head, then left.

“Very well, then.” Walken took Klavdiya's fingers, an act which immediately attracted his student's ire. “Allow me to intrude upon your generosity, Director Song.”

Marong and Mayuree sat opposite the radiant form of Miss Maymyint, eldest daughter and the preeminent heir of the House of M. Of the nine surviving children of the Matriarch’s lineage, Maymyint was the oldest, a true child of the worshipful one’s womb, blessed by the Goddess.

Maymyint was the tallest of the three siblings present, elegant in her silken saffron attire, her auburn hair pulled back and half-covered by a jewel-encrusted shawl. Her face was sharp, bird-like and predatory, beautiful and imposing, as one might feel while observing a Mithril-taloned Harpy-eagle. Her lips, unlike her siblings’, were tight and severe, a red gash across her pale face. Her eyes as well were formed of twin-slits, darkly made up with bold liners to emphasise her grey irises, punctuated by a hooked hawkish nose.

Besides the three, Lei and another young man, Maymyint’s attendant, stood still as a statue, waiting for the slightest need from Miss Maymyint and the siblings.

“The Tyrant has demanded his tribute,” Mayuree’s eldest sister informed her lessers. “And you are of age, Mayuree.”

Marong’s amber eyes narrowed dangerously. A condensed sliver of smoke oozed from his nostrils until it curled about his general vicinity.

Mayuree meanwhile, sat across from Maymyint, pale-faced and loitering, fighting to keep the content of her lunch inside her. Since this morning, she had been suffering a splitting headache; with Gwen so close and all her immediate problems resolved, however, she couldn't figure out why her Divination was screaming blue murder.

Now she knew.

But she did not regret holding off on a self-Scry. A tangent of fate such as this was more likely a result of her interference than one of unmolested probability.

“But I’ve contributed so much to the House!” she protested feebly. “I can’t be the last!”

“You did indeed.” Maymyint ignored Mayuree's agitation. “You are not the last this time. In its growing greed, the Tyrant has requested three girls. The House, on the other hand, needs more time. As you are ranked 5th, you will join Mayindra and Mayshweyi. Still, you may survive yet, you of all people should know.”

“Maymyint,” Marong growled. “That’s not the deal.”

“It is now." Their sister sighed. "Why are you fighting me? I didn't deliver the verdict. Blame the Tyrant."

“We’re not accepting it.”

“Makes no difference to me,” Maymyint scoffed at the Smoke Mage derisively. “The Manipuri Shadowmen will return you to us, one way or another.”

“You forget I was trained in Manipur.” Marong’s form grew hazy.

“And you forget why you are ranked third.” Maymyint untangled herself from meditation, freeing her hands for spellcasting.

“Brother Marong…” Mayuree interjected before things could escalate. Marong was strong, but when it came to combat strength, Maymyint was preeminent. As for Mayuree; she was dead last.

“Mayuree dear.” Maymyint reached across space between them with her claw-like fingers and touched the trembling skin under Mayuree’s fringe. “Do not fret. You were born for this, as was I, as was Marong. Why else would the Goddess bring us into this world?”

“But I don’t want this.” Mayuree recoiled as though Maymyint's fingertips were branding irons.

Born for this?
What kind of life exists to be surrendered?
Was the House of M a luxurious cattle pen?
Since she was a child, Mayuree had heard the stories.
Away from Shanghai, deep in the old country, there slumbered a creature of tooth and nail, scale and tongue, fire and madness, all compressed into a body capable of unimaginable cruelty.

Every so often, once a year or a decade if they're lucky, the Tyrant would demand a tithe. The last tithing had occurred when Mayuree was a child, Magus Maymaruya had spoken of how two of her siblings, twins, had been given up, along with hundreds of others.

As for her self-Scryed vision, her dalliance with taboo...

Mayuree had seen herself, exposed and trembling, waiting for violence to descend. If she were lucky, there'd be gnashing of bloody teeth. If not, her suffering would be unimaginable.

It was in that moment of crisis that she caught the silhouette of a familiar body, accompanied by a visage of viridescent irises.

But Divination wasn't an exact Spellcraft.
What she had seen was a vision, more impression and abstraction than reality and representation. What the revelation foretold was an interjection, not how, when, where or why.

In the comfort of recent events, Mayuree had begun to wonder if Gwen had fulfilled her prophecy.

When the accounts for the Centurion program came in, herself, Marong, and Magus Maymaruya all could only gawk at the surreality of the Short-Loan Credit Program. Via the House of M's new membership initiative, all of their ventures had been tied into what Gwen had called a closed consumer eco-system. Furthermore, inarticulate in the accounting of credit, their competitors had been mired in the mud of bureaucracy.

The company's coffers swelled like a noon-tide. Though Mayuree had no military exploits, no gifts of Spellcraft and no political clout to speak of - she had fattened the family's standing as no fellow sibling had done before.

She was no longer last.

Far from it, she was fifth!

Gwen had saved her life.
It wasn’t at all what Mayuree had expected, but her friend had bought her time. The Centurion program would generate countless crystals yet, vastly more, infinitely more. It was a proverbial money tree.

When the program reached its maturity, would the House have garnered enough HDMs to move a Tower Faction to eradicate the Tyrant? Safe in fifth-place, she could even wait for her friend to ascend.

After all, Mayuree's saviour possessed five Schools of Magic, two Elements, and if age were to be taken into account, her combat potential wildly out-classed their eldest sister, Maymyint.

Moreover, Gwen was the scion of an even greater power! When Gwen stated that she desired a Tower one day, Mayuree was under no doubt that her friend would have her way, that given time, Gwen would bestride the world atop her floating fortress!

Then, and only then, would Mayuree invite Gwen to her ‘home’, below which the Tyrant would cower! Together, they would put the infernal beast down like a rabid dog and harvest its Core so that finally, Myăma would have its due, and the House of M would no longer be the house of Mú, the House of nothing.

That had been Mayuree's plan; until Maymyint appeared.

Had the Tyrant sensed something?
Was she the victim of a conflict within the House itself?
Did someone desire the business that she had built up, wishing to take it for themselves?

Either way, refusing to return home was futile.

As for Gwen, at this moment, Mayuree no longer could confidently say that her friend had yet to fulfil her destiny. If their ties of fate had indeed been satisfied, then she would only invite Gwen to her death. How could she lead a sister into a trap, knowing that an indomitable foe lurked below?

Mayuree lowered her eyes.

She had played herself into a Divination paradox. Knowing that Gwen would save her, she had approached her and messed with their fate. Now that Gwen had saved her once, it was unlikely that her friend could do so again. When one railed against fate, strange things happened. Mayuree was a bloodline Diviner, but she was no Oracle of Delphi.

“You don’t want what?” Maymyint broke into a mocking bout of bitter laughter. “Since when had what we want mattered?”

“Mayuree.” Marong nudged his sister. “Tell Maymyint about Gwen.”

Mayuree gaped in horror.

“No!” she blurted, tongue-tied and panicking. She couldn't do that. To continue her futile struggle would only endanger others.

“What’s this?” Maymyint’s grey eyes scanned over the siblings. “You have a prophecy? Why haven’t you informed the Matriarch?”

“I have…” Mayuree swallowed. “But it’s not important.”

“Mayuree!” Marong chided her. “This is not the time for sentimentality! It's your life! You gave Gwen the Eland Core! You helped her with her lodging! You gave her opportunities at every turn! It’s time you received the help you paid for!”

“Gwen's not a thing I bought!” Mayuree protested. “She’s saved me already! Don’t you see?! Maymyint’s here as punishment for my trespass! You know the rules, a Diviner should never Scry themselves! I interfered needlessly, and how it's all too complicated!”

“This 'Gwen'.” Maymyint licked her lips. “Do you happen to mean Gwen Song? The one who proposed the Centurion program?”

“That’s right,” Marong interjected. "She's fated to save Mayuree, which means she must have a way to deal with the Tyrant."

Mayuree leapt at her brother, but the Smoke Mage’s arm-thick haze was enough to keep the powerless Diviner subdued.

“I know this Gwen. She’s an eater of Dragons: a Void Sorceress. I’ve fought her once, and the stink of the Tyrant radiating from her body was enough to insinuate she made a habit of killing their kind. If it’s her, I don’t doubt Mayuree’s vision. That girl has the means to change Myăma’s fate.”

“Marong!” Mayuree crashed against her brother, almost hysterical in her desperation. “Shut up! Shut up!”

“This is for your OWN good!” Marong pushed his sister against the sofa forcefully. “Stop fighting me, you fool!”

Beside her distressed mistress, Lei bit her lip with such vigour that her complexion took on the colour of the table cloth. If she could only get away for a moment, she could contact Mistress Song, and her Mistress would be saved from this indignity!

Marong continued, deadset on the course he had set.

“Gwen Song has two Familiars. One is a Kirin, thick with Draconic-Essence, the Goddess knows how many Draconic-beings she had consumed to metamorph it from its original form. Her other Familiar, a Death Worm of some kind, takes on the form of creatures it consumes. It’s a Void Beast - nothing like anything we have ever seen before. Its potential is unfathomable. Furthermore, from the reports we managed to skim from Fudan, the girl is proficient in Five schools of Magic, and her VMI rivals that of a seasoned Magus.”

“Mmmmphm!” Mayuree struggled against the smoky tendril keeping her lips sealed.

“Her Uncle is the Ash Bringer, the Hero of the Northern Front, currently dallying with the Huangshan Dragon-princess called Ayxin. Her grandmother is the director of a PLA Research Hospital. Her grandfather is a CCP Senior Secretary. I have also received reports that she is a family friend of the Scarlet Sorceress, Alesia De Botton and the Morning Star Gunther Shultz - that she could be related to the late Magister Kilroy of Oceania. She's the one who collected the Dragon Cores we bought!”

“And that’s who Mayuree thinks will ‘save her’?”

“Correct.” Marong nodded. “That was Mia's original vision.”

Maymyint lowered her hands, then adjusted her shawl.

“And how do you propose we move someone like that?” the sibling’s eldest sister demanded. “You’re inviting destruction for the House of M.”

“We have to persist in the Mayuree’s prophesy,” Marong proposed. “The girl is going to be in the IIUC in a few months.”

“Is that so?”

“I believe the Matriarch can submit a Questing application to the governing body of the IIUC. Our coffers are overflowing right now.”

“What a curious proposition, Marong. How confident are you that this will go well?”

Mayuree kicked out at her brother. Marong caught his sister’s legs and held them down with his hands.

“I want to give Mia a chance.” Marong held the girl’s feet immobile. “Gwen Song will come, and she will make a difference. I have absolute confidence.”

“Very well.” Maymyint’s smile was positively rapacious. “I will confer your offer with Mother.”

“Good. So - Mayuree stays here in the meanwhile?”

Maymyint shook her head. Before Marong could object, she turned to Mayuree.

“Are you going to tell 'Gwen' about all of this, Mayuree?”

Before Marong could stop her, Mayuree nodded furiously.

“Ngar lee…” Marong groaned. “You idiot!”

Freeing her legs while her brother despaired, Mayuree’s feet finally connected with his face, snapping his head backwards.

“Sar!” Marong covered his face. In the next instance, a torrent of blood poured from between his fingers. She had gotten him square on the nose.

“I can’t tell if you’re putting on an act, or if you are that naive,” Maymyint remarked, looking at the siblings. “Either way, I will be taking Mayuree with me to the old country. Pending on Mother’s approval, I will contact you shortly. You can bring this ‘Gwen’, or you can not. It makes no difference to Mother. The tithing cannot wait. You have until Thadingyut, the Festival of the Naga to save your sister. Mia, be a good girl now, and come along.”

Shocked by the violence she had committed on her brother, Mayuree froze in horror. Marong had always picked on her, though she never had she wounded him.

“I’ll take you back in a stasis field if I have to.” Maymyint straightened her back, her body long and slender, her neck elegant and serpentine. “Your servant can pack for you.”

“Mia…” Marong had just managed to stop the bleeding. “You’ll be safe…”

“Don’t involve Gwen in this,” Mayuree begged her brother.

“Sorry.” Marong half-closed his eyes, then exhaled deeply. “I don’t care about her. I only care about you.”

“Then I’ll tell her everything!” Mayuree spat from between clenched teeth. “She won’t come!”

Marong groaned audibly.

Maymyint began to laugh.

“One wonders how you hope to survive.” The sister’s mood improved considerably. “Enfeeble Mind!”

A flash of Radiance emanating from Maymyint’s fingers blasted through Mayuree’s forehead, equipping her with an enchanted halo. Instantly, Mayuree’s eyes lost their lustre, their eldest's spell bypassing the House of M's Mind Shield charms. The raw emotion that had hovered all over Mayuree's face ceased at once. Her mouth open and closed, but no words issued forth; it was as though the girl had grown suddenly dull.

Marong shuddered with barely suppressed anger.

“Don’t look at me like that, little brother,” Maymyint jeered. “You want to save her or not?”

Marong held his tongue.

“To repay your good behaviour, I will make a case in front of Mother. Send me all your reports.” She turned to her servant. “Thum, help them pack. Lei, you’re coming with Thum. Mia is going need a lot more looking after. Once you have her things, have Marong arrange transportation to the ISTC. We leave this evening.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Lei remained impassive.
“By your will.” Maymyint’s manservant bowed.

The House of M's eldest paused.

“Marong, don’t go against the will of our Matriarch. Who knows, the Tyrant might prefer men for its subsequent tithing.”

Marong remained stoic and stationary. He couldn’t bear the sight of Mayuree taken away, but what he could stomach was what came next.

Even if Mayuree loathed him for the rest of her life, a sister that hated him was better than one that was dead or driven to insanity.

Lei closed the door behind her.

She dug into her dress and produced the communication Device her Mistress had left her.

The Message bracelet was for her use, manufactured by Magus Maymaruya for Lei so that Mayuree’s friend could call and ask what and when was dinner.

Lei punched in the glyph clumsily. She had never used an outbound Message before. With any luck, Miss Song wasn't in training, because once Mistress Maymyint was out of Shanghai, it would be impossible to-

‘WHOMP!'

A ball of air struck the side of Lei's head.

“I am astounded.” Thum held onto Lei’s body as she slumped. “Miss Maymyint said that her sister would be a handful, but who’d have thought a mere NoM servant would have the gall to oppose the eldest?”

“She better not be dead.” Marong’s voice came across dangerously.

Maymyint’s servant gave the House of M’s No.3 a wry grin.

“Miss Maymyint will ensure the both of them arrive safe and sound.” Thum pursed his paper-thin lips. “You should probably inform my kinswoman. I find it hilarious that she’s absent at a time like this. I had been expecting to test her growth.”

“Kitty being here wouldn’t have made a difference.” Marong creased his brow. Had Kitty been present, things could have gotten infinitely more complicated. For example, how could Marong explain why Gouding B1's penthouse exploded?

“Of course not.” Thum wrinkled his nose. “I’ll be taking the NoM now if you don’t mind.”

Marong stepped aside.

“I respect you, Sir Marong.” The Mage bowed. “Please live a healthy life, at least until the Matriarch asks for your ultimate service. Dimension Door!”

With a burst of silvery Conjuration, Maymyint’s bodyguard departed.

Marong took a moment to stifle his haggard breathing, then raised his Message Device beside his face.

"Maymaruya, is Kitty with you?"

“She is, Young Master Marong. What’s wrong?”

“Come to the penthouse at B1 as soon as you can." Marong materialised a lit-cigarette. " I have something that we need to discuss.”

 

 

 

Advertisement
A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref :: You know how it goes. 

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

Voting for the novel :: Voting button  

Very soon we'll be hiting up the IIUC ramp up. Exciting stuff!! 


About the author

Wutosama

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

Achievements
Comments(197)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In