A note from Wutosama

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Fengbo Village used to be famous for its Beggar Pheasant, but now it was just as renowned as the local haunt of the Fudan IIUC team. Gwen's patronage, however, was well deserved. There was something to be said when a hole in the wall that barely fitted forty people could capture a sorceress with the fragrance of lotus-wrapped chooks.

"Tsingtao for the table as well, Mama," Gwen shouted across to the tiny kitchen. "The big bottles."

"You got it, beauty!" the chef's wife, an NoM woman, possessed a voice like a loud hailer. "On the house, okay?"

"Thanks, Mama." Gwen wasn't fussed. The tips she usually left were enough to pay for a crate of fifty and then some.

Though Gwen was shouting the team dinner, most of the members couldn't make it. Presently, the table was graced by Jiro, Petra, Eunae, Mia and Ruì, with their NoM companion coming off a week spent tallying the paperwork for Gwen's perusal.

"Your skin looks terrible," Gwen reprimanded her secretary's unhealthy zeal for after hour labour. "Are you getting enough sleep?"

"A few hours, here and there." Ruì's bloodshot eyes blinked. "Tonglv has reached the busiest portion of Stage Two. There's a lot of paperwork."

"Is Dai giving you grief? I know Ken's doing alright, he submitted his report two days ago."

"Master Fung is doing his best to keep our work on schedule," Ruì explained diplomatically. "He says he misses you."

"I am sure he does," Gwen muttered, her chopstick working on a chicken thigh. Still, Ruì's frailness made her wary. How could she allow her right-hand woman to collapse when there was so much work to be done? "Mia, what's a good supplement NoMs can use to maintain their vitality?"

"Oh, there's plenty." Mayuree stabbed at the fish head, scooping out the eyes. "I'll have someone send over a box of Vitae-Extra tomorrow."

"Thanks." Gwen grinned at the blushing Ruì. "Share it with the others, will you? I'll have to talk to Dai later. If you get sick, what's his contingency plan? Manage the accounts? Pigs might fly!"

"Hahaha…" Ruì giggled, hoping that her impertinence wouldn't reach the young master's ears. "It's nothing, Miss. I mean, you guys fought off a Beast Tide! I saw it on the vid-cast!"

Indeed, even now, the vid-cast of Fudan's match played in the corner of the eatery. It was a cheap ploy dreamed up by the restaurant's Mama, but Gwen didn't mind. What made her cringe though was seeing close-ups of her face as she incanted spells, especially when she received vitality hits.

Her only solace was that Lulan had it worse. Kusu's hair loss aside, the exposure had given Lulu plenty of exposure. Lulu wasn't a bad-looking gal, and her Sword Magic, for all its melee limitations, was remarkably aesthetic. For an audience weaned on Fire Balls and Magic Missiles, watching a petite lass carve a nine-foot Troll like a side of prosciutto was the definition of titillating battle-porn. The trade-off, conversely, came in the form of rabid fanboys around the university district. Gwen's advice for her friend's newfound popularity was that if she had to break bones, Dai would be avilable for clean up.

Across the table, Petra downed half a bottle of beer, then frowned at the meagre alcohol content.

Eunae sat in a floating world of her own, dreaming of all the rewards her Chaebol relatives had promised, so long as Fudan continued its advance.

Their sole male member, Jiro, munched on a chicken leg, very much enjoying the sensation of being surrounded by beauties while dozens of men stared with impotent envy. It was in moments like this that Jiro felt genuinely alive.

"Pats, don't worry about Moscow." Gwen replaced her chopsticks. "Hell, look at my parents. I am doing just fine, right?"

Petra knocked back the rest of the glass. Even on a good day, she wasn't one for smiling. Now that she was troubled over her parents' renewed affection, the permanent frown she wore made her cousin's heart sore.

"Tell you what, we'll go to the House of M after, or the Continental, or the Astoria. With Mayuree's Centurion Card, its Happy Hour every hour!"

"Why, that could cheer me up." Petra's indifference cracked.

"I am coming too!" Jiro raised his hand. "I'll be your chaperone!"


"We'll be your chaperone."

"Shall we dress up?" Gwen made eyes at her cousin. "We could do some late-night shopping as well. The malls are open till late."

Jiro's fingers began to shake. He wanted to help the girls shop. He had all kinds of outfits in mind.

"Too much effort." Petra dashed Jiro's dream-come-true with only three words. "Can't I go as is?"

Gwen regarded Petra's getup. There was a special kind of charm inherent to a beautiful woman wearing a lab coat, but she was sure laboratory couture did not grace the steps of five-star hotels. What if the tabloids were there? In the first few days of their return, the paparazzi had hounded her ceaselessly.

"Eunnie, you coming?" Gwen turned to Eunae, then paused when a commotion broke out outside the restaurant.

"Wah! Giant Gweilo!" someone was saying.
"His face has tattoos!"
"Is he a half-orc?" Another voice rudely remarked. "Orcs have tattoos, right?"

To Gwen's astonishment, a barrel-chested body barred the doorway, its arch just reaching the giant's chin.

"That's one jacked dude," Jiro remarked, dropping his pork hock. "A gweilo from America, maybe?"

Gwen flashed the young man an admonishing look with her hazel orbs, then returned her attention to the figure now ducking under the door.

To the team's surprise, Gwen suddenly stood from her seat, her mouth half-open.

"HOLY SHIT, WHETU?!" her voice rang out. The familiar face was older now, manlier and more heavily tattooed with Tā moko, the telling of a Maori caster's whakapapa, his origin.

"Kia ora." The big man waved back, hitting the ceiling with one hand.

"OH MY GOD!" Gwen spat, then pushed forward so that she ran face-first against the big man's chest. "WHETU! How the hell? How is this possible— Auckland! You're with Auckland, right?"

"That's right." Whetu enveloped the girl in his arms, his muscular frame so impressive as to swallow Gwen's lithe body. "How you been?"

"Let's talk somewhere less cramped." Gwen realised Whetu had been stooping the whole while. She apologised to her teammates, promising to return, then led the Punamu Abjurer outside while ignoring the stares from the customers.

Gradually, the conversation died down. Back at the table, Petra explained who Whetu was to the rest of her party.

"So that's who he is," Jiro intoned sulkily, scratching his head. "Mao! He was taller and wider than Tupaq!"

Outside, Gwen found a quiet spot not far from Fengbo village to digest Whetu's mind-blowing visitation.

"So, you're here with the team?"

Whetu nodded. "Oi sew your match at the ISTC station. They were playing it in the lounge."

"God, how embarrassing." Gwen grew crimson. "But never mind that, how are you? It feels like a lifetime since we parted from Singapore. I wasn't expecting to see you at least for a few more years. Like, after I escape to Sydney, you know? Damn. I have to Message Yue and Elvia when I get home. How did you even find me?"

"About that." Whetu rubbed his tattooed face with a guilty look. "Don't be surprised now."

"About what?" Gwen grinned like a fool. She still couldn't believe she was seeing Whetu Tikitiki O Taranga in the flesh. Unbidden, a swell of joyous feelings gushed forth, she felt giddier than a newborn fawn.


It wasn't her Sigil that tinged, but her sides. Before Gwen could profess her delight at Whetu's arrival, a small pair of hands cupped her modest bosoms.

Were it not for Whetu looking away and the buxom clues pressing against the small of her back, she would have dented her assailant's face with an elbow strike. Instead, Gwen froze like a Hob in the path of a well-aimed Void Bolt.

Whetu turned away, leaving the girls some privacy.

"You know..." came a cherished utterance from her waist. "... For the record, I wanted to cover your eyes, but really, high-heels at your height? Fuck me for being a short-ass, eh?"

Gwen arrested the wandering hands, feeling both their fingers tremble with anticipation.

"Whetu, is this an Illusion? I am wearing Mind Shield earrings."

"Turn around and find out," the voice commanded.

Gwen did as told.

"Yue Bai." Gwen inspected her closest and oldest friend.

"Gwen Song." Her oldest companion gave her a once-over.

"I am going to hug you very tightly," Gwen forewarned her bestie, her eyes growing misty as her lips trembled. "I am very strong and very emotional right now. I don't know if I can control my strength."

"I got Healing Injectors." Yue opened her arms. "Come here, woman!"

"YUEEEEEEE!" Gwen picked up the girl and squeezed her like a reluctant cat against her chest. "YUE! YUE! YUE! My darling, Miss Bai! Gods, how I've missed you!"

"JESUS-H-CHRIST!" Yue felt her joints crackle. "Fuck me; you're stronger than a Hive Queen. What the fuck do you eat? Never mind, its Caliban, isn't it. Shit, you're a walking suit of Golem Armour."

Gwen ignored the F-bombs. Instead, she rubbed her cheeks against her friend's, then kissed Yue violently across the forehead, the cheeks and finally pecked her lips. "How! How!? HOW are you here?"

"How am I here? The ISTC, of course." Yue pulled herself away to catch her breath. "Bloody hell, don't do this to Elvia. You'll kill her outright."

"HOW!" Gwen gushed, unable to control the moisture seeping from her eyes.

"Whoa, okay? Tears of joy? I am flattered. Haha, I'll tell you, Jeez." Yue teased her endlessly while holding Gwen's hands. "It's not a long story, but it's a good one, you wanna get a drink? Long trip, you know? I could do with a schooner of horse piss, how about you?"

"Of course, what am I thinking!" Gwen apologised as she wiped her eyes, smearing her eye-liner. "Let's go to my usual haunt. I know the owners."


The Waldorf Astoria.
Beside what was once the longest bar in the world, Yue and Jiro arm-wrestled.

"YAH!" Yue slammed the Fire Evoker's arm against the wood. "Gotcha, ya soft cock!"

Jiro deflated, suddenly doubting his masculinity. Here was a girl that was the spitting image of the Sprite he wished to possess in the future, and yet, she was mangling his ego. In his eyes, Yue should have been perfection - fiery hot but pocket-sized. But the moment she opened her mouth, Jiro felt deeply disturbed by the girl's ability to weave F-bombs into everyday conversation. It was like a foul-mouthed soldier had been crammed into a bite-sized body, then given high-Affinity Fire and a pair of tits.

Haughtily, Yue buttoned her blouse. "That's what you get for being distracted."

Around the bar, the girls jeered and hooted. Petra was on her fourth cocktail, while Eunae and Mayuree were still finishing their first. Whetu sipped a jug of iced banana milk by the side, citing that he made an immovable drunk. Below the girls' dangling white legs, Caliban kept away the thirsty men while Ariel drew adoring eyes from envious onlookers.

"Yue, you're a treasure!" Mayuree giggled. "Steward, another Sunrise!"

"So," Yue continued her teasing of Jiro, which Gwen suspected could likely be a fatal, fiery attraction. "I heard you got a nice bird."

"A Fire Bird, yes." Jiro nodded. Usually, he would have released the bird to impress the ladies, but Yue made him want to keep the old pecker penned up.

"Want to see what I've got?" Yue indicated to her heart.

Jiro wondered if the other girls would slap him if he said yes.

"Ooo!" Gwen leaned in with a strawberry daiquiri in one hand. "Can we see it?"

"Sure." Yue smirked haughtily. "Gonna need some room though."

Mayuree signalled the troop of handsome waiters, who immediately cleared a small room's worth of space by relocating the tables. To the participating establishments, the word of the Centurion customer was the word of God.

Yue whistled at the demure looking Diviner. "Mia, you own this place or something?"

"She's a shareholder," Gwen answered for Mayuree. "You know, Yunnie, I've got a modest income these days. Once this is all over, we can travel the world, you and me and Evee. Where ever we go, crystals will be no object."

"Sure, sounds like a plan." Yue grinned as her eyes grew bright with firelight, her pupils lighting like lanterns as Elemental Fire flooded her conduits. "Alright, step back— Tân-Cysgodol!"

The group's captive audience shirked back as invisible heat filled the room. The rise in temperature was imaginary, but they could all feel the fire scorching their Astral Souls.

In a flash, Yue's contracted Spirit manifested, dwarfing even a high heeled Gwen.

What appeared was a coal-skinned horse, its mane brilliant with blue fire while its iridescent cobalt hooves struck sparks against the air. When it swished its tail, a swarm of lesser Elementals spawned in its wake.

"Harrumph!" The creature neighed.

"Wow." Gwen had expected to be impressed, but this was something else. "A Fire Horse!"

"A Nightmare!" Petra corrected her cousin before turning to Yue. "May I ask what tier it is? The blue fire is uncommon even for Nightmares."

"High tier. First of all, credit where credit is due." Yue made a face. "I didn't acquire it. It was a gift from my Master, Alesia de Botton."

"Is this the one Gunther bought?" Gwen felt green with envy. "My God, Yue! Gunther paid how much for this?"

"I am too scared to find out." Yue scratched her brow guiltily. "It was originally meant for Master, so…"

Jiro forced his mouth shut. Within his chest, his Firebird cowered like a quail. It wasn't so much that the Nightmare was a more senior tier of Elemental, but that his Spirit was a fledgeling, while Yue's Spirit was a mature being.

"Tân-Cysgodol…" Gwen mulled over the name. "Is it Scottish?"

"Welsh." Yue stroked the creature's mane as it nuzzled her chest, huffing hot air. "Master says it means flame and shadow."

"Can I touch it?" Gwen came closer.

"Sure. Be careful; it bites."

Gwen sauntered closer, cooing as she raised a hand. "Hello there, Shadow."

The horse sniffed her fingers, measuring her with its intelligent eyes.

"Ee!" Ariel raised a snout to sniff the horse, receiving a sniff in return.

"Shaa!" Caliban raised itself so that it stood at Gwen's shoulder like a cobra. Extending a tentacle from its carapace, it gave the Nightmare a quick flicker with its tongue.

Not to be beaten, the Nightmare dipped its head and gave Caliban a lick over its shiny head.

"Man, Ariel's looking pretty funky, huh?"

"Ariel's been busy! So, is your fire blue now?" Gwen recalled that Alesia was called the Scarlet Sorceress or the Crimson Witch precisely because of the unique hue of her magic.

"Only when Tandy is helping out."


"Yeah." Yue snickered. "Tân-Cysgodol is too much of a mouthful, you know?"

Yue's horse regarded its owner with depthless eyes, clearly critical of her naming sense.

After each of Gwen's team took turns touching the horse, Tân-Cysgodol faded from sight.

"How're your studies coming along?" Gwen inquired once the thrill of seeing a flaming mare diminished.

"I am learning Conjuration, actually," Yue declared wistfully. "Bloody time consuming, but that's the plan. Major Evocation and minors in Transmutation and Conjuration. Allie's got no talent in Conjuration, apparently, but says I could manage the lower tiers no problem."

Gwen imagined a scene where a flame-clad Yue rode through the air on a flying, fire-clad horse, dropping Fire Balls and Scorching Rays.

"How's your mum and dad?" Gwen asked. "Still living in Forestville?"

"Naw, we're out of that dump." Yue snorted. "I work now, got a salary and everything, and bonuses from Militia requests. Been working like a sheepdog since you left. The amount of shit left to do in Sydney even with Gunther dispensing crystals and CCs like confetti is pretty much what the fuck."

"Yeah, I can imagine that." Gwen tried to imagine Gunther the Tower Master sitting at his desk, doughing out quests. "But how did you end up in Auckland?"

"Academic Enrichment program. Alesia told me you're going to be in the IIUC and I missed you, so I thought, hey, why not bum a spot from another Uni? I figured if not you, maybe Auck could do well enough to see Elvia!"

"Aww, that's sweet." Gwen squeezed Yue's fingers. "And they obliged?"

"I was over there working with Whetu's people anyway. Spoke to their captain, their captain spoke to the admin, then Whetu's Master hooked us up. It's all very proper."

"Aww, thanks for taking care of her, Whetu."

"Sweet-as, bro, no dramas." Whetu gave her a thumbs up. "She's kucking arse for us."

"Are you going the Tower route, Yue?"

"Naw, I am a grunt, through and through." Yue materialised a military ID from her ring. "Read that? Specialist First-Class. Mage Flight 302. You're looking at a woman with a rank, civilian."

"Thank you for your service, Ma'am!" Gwen saluted.

"At ease, citizen." Yue saluted back.

The rest of the table toasted with a cheer.

"So, where are you staying tonight?" Gwen downed the daiquiri in one gulp. "Where's your hotel?"

"Where am I staying?" Yue snorted as though Gwen had said a ridiculous thing. "Why, in your bed, my dear."

"COUGH-COUGH!" Jiro choked and spluttered, spraying beer all over the bar.

When Gwen had just arrived in her strange world of monsters and magic, having Yue in the dorm gently snoring a few meters away was endearing. In those dark days, she was lonely, mortified by her useless magic, and clueless as to what her future might hold. One bed over, Yue's presence had been her rock, anchoring Gwen's frayed psyche to the plane of reality and preventing her from sinking into nightmares of her own making.

Now, almost three years and a month to the day, they once again shared a bed.

"Yue…" Gwen listened for Yue's breathing in the dark. "What are you doing?"

"I am cuddling."

"You're spooning me."

"I know."




"Go back to sleep."

"I can't."

"Fine. Want to talk?"


"What's the deal with Walken?"

"Walken? Alesia didn't tell you?"

"She went back to Sydney right away. I was in Auckland to train."

"Righto, Walken, huh. Well, how much do you know?"

"Start from the beginning."


Holding Yue's hands at bay, Gwen told the tale in the dark.

"Hmm, Master told me to Fireball his ass if he keeps getting handsy with you."

"He's not a bad bloke. Misguided, but an ally, at least for now."

"Pfft—" Yue breathed on Gwen's neck. "You believe that?"

"He taught me his signature magic."

"Just the one? I got whole Spellbooks full of Signature Spells."

"That's nice."

"Shit, sorry…"

"Don't mind it."

"… are you still a virgin?" Yue quickly changed the subject.



"I don't want to answer that question."

"Jesus, how are you still a virgin?"

"Well, are you?"

"Of course, I am saving myself for Elvia."

"… seriously?"

"No, silly goose. I am saving myself for twin-dicked saurians."

"What? Like the knob you sent me?"

"Mate, you seen the size of that thing?"

"I am seriously confused right now."

"I am in the military, dumbass, unsanctioned fornication is a big no-no."

"Why are we talking about this again?"

"Tell ya what. I am going to marry an NoM, like my Dad."


"Yep, fuck those purists. We get them by the bucketload in the Frontier Air Division. Pencil wand fuckwits are what they are. Sometimes I feel like making out with the janitor just to piss em off. Like, I'll ride in on Tandy with my NoM stud in tow, flashing my tits at them and shit. Maybe if I dilute my 'lineage' in public, they'll leave me alone, you know?"

"Oh my god, Yue, I-I can't breath." Gwen huffed. The imagery was too much. "You're killing me."

"You like that, ya hussy? Want me to keep going?"

"Jesus, I am cramping up. What do they teach you in the Militia?"

"Plenty. You ever go on patrol, and there's just you and four dudes and a thousand lizards for like five weeks in the woods? Lonely folks get thirsty as all fuck. I'll tell you that. Tandy gets a pretty good workout practising identify friend-foe."

In the dark, Gwen tried to stop herself from waking Petra with her suppressed shrieking. Yue was the best; the damage she dealt was too great.

"So, what about you?" Yue refused to relent. "How do you, you know?"

"Caliban…" Gwen began.

"What. The. Fuck." Yue squeezed Gwen's waist. "Cali's just a child!"

Again, Gwen fought down her cramping abdominals.

"No, I mean, when I use Consume, there's this big hit of vitality, and I gotta say, it's better…? Less fuss."

"Better than…"

"Yeah. No mess either."

In the gloomy murk, Gwen noted that her friend had withdrawn her wandering hands.


"Yeah-Nah," her friend's voice drifted across the dark. "So you're telling me… that you're getting off from eating people?"



A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref :: 

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


Also, lewd pics of the girls spooning 

Super busy over next few days, we'll see how it goes! Next CH Monday or Tuesday. 

About the author


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

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