A note from Wutosama

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Dai sunk into the office chair his missus-boss had ordered from Denmark, gliding a hand over the supple Salamander-skin.

With goods now re-routed from Tonglv to Dalian, the former high society playboy now sat on no less than three advisory councils. More and more often these days, Dai dearly desired a return to the careless past of nightclubs and fight-clubs.

But Dai knew that no matter how much praise his father may have heaped upon him, Tonglv's success couldn't be attributed to the triumvirate. Instead, it was the girl from the House of Song who had conceived of the stock-credit system. Without doubt, his missus-boss' unseen hand guided the canal into its present form, both through her sorcerous accounting and in establishing James Ma's audit team. Indeed, Gwen and Gwen alone was the reason Central showered accolades on the Fungs like confetti.

And at first, when the credit system all had been a pipe dream. Dai's father, Chairman Tu and Magister Quin had thought the single per cent of the canal's revenue a fruitless request born from naive confidence.

Now, six months since the canal's operation, Tonglv's turnover had already reached ten million TEUs thanks to its "free" passage for law-abiding parties. Following Stage Two, the third and fourth South Sea canals may very well push the Tonglv' capacity northward of fifteen million TEUs, rivalling Shanghai. Likewise, at the girl's behest, the establishment of micro industries servicing the port had blossomed, transforming rural Nantong into a burgeoning trading hub with the potential to rival Shenzhen. When Ruì submitted the financial year's income report, the canal's Withholding Fund had accrued twenty-three million HDMs. Presently, through accrued interest, investments, and real estate, Gwen received 124,000 HDMs annually gross, totally 71,522 after sundries, expenses, and taxes. As for Stage Two, considering that ninety-eight thousand acres had passed through the State Surveyor's office, something close to fifty million HDMs in land alone was incoming over the next two financial years— and all of this was just the beginning of the fund's true potential.

What the triumvirate now thought of the girl was a blood-gorged Stirge, well-wedged in their profits, siphoning their serum. Worse still, with each IIUC match, her fame, not to mention her grandfather's position in the CCP, grew more difficult to dismiss out of hand.

To Dai, Shen had lamented Gwen refusing to become the Fung family's daughter. If so, he would have given her everything the Clan possessed, Dai included. But, once news arrived of the girl's inevitable departure, both members of the CCDI and Tonglv's partners argued against the presence of a foreign Magus or Magister embedded in China's infrastructure.

Removing the girl from their contracted obligations, therefore, had been a foregone conclusion. Gwen's stake in the Tonglv Fund would be purchased at cost, and she could either take the severance or face scrutiny and censure. If need be, her reputation and alas, her position, may need to be severely weakened.

For Dai, once outside his father's penthouse office, the Fung's heir felt assaulted by a disturbing sense of oppression and injustice. Such a fit of indignation rose within him that he had almost stormed back inside to shout at the codgers.

Then, he took a deep breath. The Fung's heir knew that while a warrior followed his heart, a leader must think with his head.

Intellectually, he understood that what he should be doing was luring Gwen into a false sense of security, or perhaps, convince her to cut her losses and be satisfied with a Ring full of HDMs.

But the heart wants what the heart wants.
That was what it meant to be young.


The frosted glass door opened, revealing the lithe form of his unrequited object of affection.

"Young Master Dai." Gwen smiled as she passed, leaving a trail of perfume. "What's the news?"

Dai was up in a split-second. "Gwen— tell me the truth. Are you going away? Are you leaving us?"

With infinite patience, the object of his protest pulled out her seat, patted down her skirt, sat, crossed her legs, then faced him with a picture-perfect smile.

"Yes," she replied finally. "I'll be moving to London for some time. Cambridge has given me an offer."

Dai deflated. Returning to his visitor's chair, he sat, then sighed again. "So it's all true."

"It is." Gwen nodded. "But worry not, I am a free woman. I'll be back every other year to see my Babulya and grandfather. I still have to check up on Percy and Mina and Tai and everyone, and you, of course, AND to groom my interests here in Shanghai. I am leaving, but in a way, I won't be, not completely. This place will be my home away from home."

Dai looked up.
It was hard to believe that almost two years had passed since he had caught Gwen duelling in the House of M for change. To think that in so short a time, the girl was now an internationally famous Void Mage who ate a Beast Tide and then Shenyang. His father had even said that, in lieu of the IIUC broadcast, Gwen had faced a Lich and lived to tell the tale. Studying her mien, he could see that her youthful face was now more mature. The girl had lost some puppy fat, and what remained was sharper, more defined, like an enchanted blade half-showing its vorpal edge.

A pang of desire arched across Dai's heart. Even before he had arrived at her office, he had dithered on the choice before him. Now, seeing her face to face, his heart filled with a strange gladness.

Without obstruction, the warning slid from his lips.

"I think my father and the others are trying to usurp your shares in Tonglv," Dai suddenly intoned, finding the words liberating. "They're arguing that there's no way someone who is not a part of the Party can have so much influence over so critical a piece of infrastructure. I don't know what they have on you, but they should be enacting their plans after you leave China. If they scandalise your reputation, the triumvirate will vote you out. And if you're away, you would have to return to defend yourself in a public hearing."

"Oh?" Opposite, the recently minted Devourer raised a brow. "What about our Tower contract?"

"For the volume of Crystals you shall be receiving in the future, the PLA Tower is more than willing to go against Pudong..."

"To be expected." Gwen rolled her eyes. Even in her old world, the Party seldom honoured intellectual boundaries with foreign corporations. One such example would be Kawasaki's design of China's high-speed rail, where after the fact, Kawasaki was removed from China's patent filing as a contributor.

"I shouldn't be telling you this." Dai shuddered. He withdrew a clip of Halfling tobacco from his jacket and offered Gwen a hand-rolled stick from a Mithril fag case. "I really shouldn't..."

"And I appreciate it." She smiled at him with such warmth that his heart fluttered. "I won't forget your aid, Dai Fung."

Dai lit up.

"Dai." She watched him puff as the delicate smoke filled his lungs. The rare tobacco was a treat, even for him. A dozen sticks alone cost twenty HDMs. "Aren't you happy that I am out of your hair? You could finally be the son your father wanted, the big man of the Tonglv project. You did very well with selling Stage Two, you should know. The number of investors willing to part with their deposits has already generated enough HDMs to enable Stage Three."

"Miss you?" Dai swallowed, feeling a buzz from the heady smoke. "I would miss you very much, Gwen. You know that."

"A leopard can't change its spots, I see. Dai the flatterer." She chuckled, then leaned forward. Her breath was sweet, her eyes vivid and green and sparkling, refracting the Daylight Globes overhead.

Dai exhaled, blowing the acridness downward so that he wouldn't pollute the space between them. If she was going to kiss him, he felt a pang of regret, then he shouldn't have smoked. Still, nerves were nerves, and there was nothing like a stout lungful to unknot his inner torment.

Her face came so close as to be an inch from his face, but then vertigo struck.

Employing a mote of Void between her fingers, Gwen snuffed out Dai's cigarette, displacing the tip so that he was left holding a stump.

"Dai, go back to Nantong and carry on as though this meeting never happened." Her lips grazed his cheeks, her soul-searing gaze burning holes at the back of his brain. "I've got my side of things handled— and I promise I won't forget the choice you made today."

"Babulya, Yeye, I am home!" Gwen's husky voice hailed the central courtyard of the Song's family compound.

At the head of the banquet table, the Chair of the Confidential Communication Committee, soon to be promoted to a vice-Secretary of the Central Bureau, surveyed his family. Beside him stood his wife, Klavdiya, welcoming his tardy granddaughter, and over to her left was Gwen's seat, after which sat Percy then Jun. Across the table sat Nen with her son and daughter. Finally, the empty space beside Nen had been reserved for the absent Hai, his wife Qīn, as well as the kids' step-sibling, Sui.

"Dearest, come and sit next to Babulya." Klavdiya motioned for their granddaughter to take her seat beside Percy. The girl obliged, ruffling Percy's hair as she passed, eliciting a cry of protest from her brother.

"You're late," Guo complained, eyeing his granddaughter. The girl's attire, as usual, was far too westernised for his liking. A girl of her age should be well covered, especially in winter. That his granddaughter should be seen in form-fitting clothing would only invite undesired attention. Already, his colleagues had spotted Gwen's Lumen-pics on the back pages of the People's Daily no less than a dozen times, each time engendering a cascade of proposals.

"Sorry." The girl struck out her tongue childishly. "I had some Tonglv matters to absolve. My secretary was understandably upset, but everything is alright now."

Guo's lips twisted. The disparity between the girl's feigned child-like visage and the subject matter of a national infrastructural project was unsettling, to say the least. Already, news up the grapevine had warned that the masters of Nantong were hoping to squeeze Gwen out of Tonglv.

Of that, Guo was of two minds. As a long-serving Secretary of the Party, then Departmental Chair, and soon to be Inner Party Cadre, he knew the dangers of wealth. In a position of sufficient height within the Communist Party, personal wealth was a liability, for an abundance of assets inevitably resulted in conflicts of interest.

For many of his colleagues, the excuse, "My wife is good at business" only flew under the Scry when they remained in power. Once their inevitable retirement came, many were investigated by the CCDI, stripped of their estates, then sent to the Front.

If Gwen could receive a fair buyout for her share, therefore, he had no complaints. No girl needed millions to live comfortably in London, and he would prefer to enter the Party's leadership without the shadow of a millionaire granddaughter.

"Uncle Jun!" The girl positively squealed when she embraced Guo's second son from behind, cuddling Jun's face with her own.

After her dear babulya, the girl remained closest with Jun. As for her strange fascination, Guo had initially found their intimacy disconcerting, though now with the Dragon Princess in the picture, he could breathe easier. Still, Gwen's disregard for respectful distance was displeasing all the same.

"Tao! Mina!"

More hugs were exchanged. Guo kept his face stoic as he awaited his turn. He wasn't a tactile person, not even with his wife, so the kisses and the hugs seemed to him unnecessary gestures.

"I saw the vid-casts!" Mina gushed, cradling Gwen's hands. "You were brilliant, cousin! Brilliant! Everyone at my school is talking about you. They wouldn't stop asking me questions!"

"Haha, I hope I wasn't a bother."

"No, no, none at all!"

"Yoyoyo Wassap Gwenabitch? Looking fly!"

"I've missed you, Peaches. What have you been up to?"

"Crushing it, ya know? Cruising with mah crew, Big-Dog and Mack-Daddy, they enquired after yo ass."

Guo shuddered. Wang's son was an aberrant existence, a blight upon the Song family. A goblin who talked in tongues while making obscene hand gestures. More than once, Gwen had attempted to convince Guo that the boy had a prodigious talent for "music". It was an absurd proposal, for Guo had yet to see the man-child touch a single instrument. Instead, the infernal fruit persisted in making percussion sounds with his lips, an act that appeared as though Tao was perpetually fellating the air. "You looking sweeter than ever, hoe. Got yourself a sugar daddy yet? Or dare I say, yo a sugar mama yet?"

"Working on it." Gwen laughed, apparently unperturbed by the strange words emitted from Tao's filthy lips. "I am sorry we're not going to America, Peaches, but the opportunity will arise. The States are definitely on my shortlist."

"It's cool, yo! We jam later!" Tao crossed his arms, his fingers forming a fork, making Guo's blood boil. "Peaches in the House!"

Finally, having finished greeting Nen, his granddaughter arrived, having come full circle.

"Yeye—" Gwen curtsied, lowering her hips and raising her head so that for a moment, rather than a sorceress who could level Shenyang, she appeared a docile grandchild. "How is your back?"

"It's better," Guo replied formally, all of his ire melting away as though snow in spring. He wanted to reach out and touch her hair, or give her a pat on the shoulder, but with Klavidya watching, his hand refused to move. A Patriarch should be stoic. "Sit, the food is getting cold."

Gwen gave him a hug anyway, one Guo enjoyed with relish until Klavdiya caught him smiling.

The family sat.

"Thank you all for coming." Guo wasn't one for big speeches or to mince words. "Jun especially, I know your duty with the Princess is taxing."

"It's a burden of love, Father," Jun confessed readily. "Ayxin sends her regards. Have you been taking the ginseng?"

"Sparingly." Guo inclined his head. "Thank her for me. And no more gifts we can't repay."

"Alright, father."

"If you tell your brother..." Guo paused, then sighed. "Tell him Percy is doing well. Better than he was at the same age."

Percy beamed.

Gwen made a face at her brother.

Guo then turned to Gwen.

"Has Jiang Luo finalised your transfer papers? What of the others?"

"The Dean's been very good to me." Gwen tapped her Storage Ring to indicate that her papers were done. "Richard and Petra will leave separately. There's a matter I wish to inform the family, actually."

"Inform", Guo noted, not "inquire". As much as he had grown fond of Gwen, the girl's propensity for independent action was an unsettling and unwelcome characteristic.

Swiftly, the servants plated the banquet. One by one, Guo "opened" the dishes by taking a small portion for himself and Klavdiya.

"Tell us later." Guo snatched the head of a Sea Bass, depositing the gaping upper torso in Gwen's bowl. "Eat up. I know how much you Void Mages need to replenish your vitality."

The girl grinned back. Without a smidgen of lady-like behaviour, she delivered the creamy eyeball to her lips.

"Eat up… eat up…" Guo relaxed, wondering why the only Chinese part of his granddaughter was her ability to pack away any and all cuisine. "Jun tells me you'll be meeting with Ayxin's brother?"

"Yes!" Gwen replied between mouthfuls. "It's to do with Tonglv. Which, by the way, is the matter at hand."

"Gwen, what are you planning to do with Tonglv," Jun interjected, apparently more in the know than Guo himself. "Ayxin says you're going to see her brother in Yangoon?"

"Nothing too serious, really." Gwen picked at the fish head until she extracted the cheek meat. With an expression of happiness, she popped the flesh between her lips. "But let's just say any would-be schemers may be stealing from the mouth of a not so proverbial dragon."


Marong, viceroy of the House of M, presided over the meeting between his two benefactors. One of whom was the woman responsible for his emancipation; the other, his liege.

Arriving with Gwen was his sister, who had returned to take custody of the family business. There was little need, however, for once Ruxin reigned over the family, no noble dare raised their eyes at Mayuree's stewardship. Just the opposite, the historically Naga worshipping people of his nation fell into line now that a real Dragon had become their lord and patron. The old nobles had been so supportive that the Shadowmen of Manipur complained of having nothing to root out other than bland corruption and the occasional assassination.

Presently, a foursome of Dragons gathered under the perfectly conditioned temperature of Karaweik Palace's vaulted throne room. To Marong's knowledge, his benefactor was still in the dark regarding the plea-bargain he had made with Ruxin— though now the truth hardly mattered. That the House of M deferred to their Demi-God neighbour was a fitting gesture even if they were in the heart of Pudong.

Upon the former golden throne, Ruxin lounged on a divan. In his human form, the first prince of Huangshan was a flawless, pearl-skinned gent with platinum hair and irises of gold. Loosely attired, Ruxin appeared a regal wonder in his gold-threaded robes; his hair, ears and fingers all adorned with priceless gems and jadeite.

Ayxin meanwhile, was as delicate as she was striking, a blooming metallic flower in robes of ivory and rose gold. With her racially ambiguous mien and metallic-coloured eyes, she was the picture of majesty, despite borrowing the mortal fashion of the human cities.

And to the side, looking very much like a mutt, sat Golos, squatting on the steps. Despite becoming larger and meaner than before his participation in the IIUC, the Wyvern's innate morphic-magic remained amateurish. It was a sore point that both elder drakes complained of their thin-blooded little brother. Whatever Golos' development appeared to be, it seemed only to aid the Wyvern's brutishness.

"I fear you shall have to explain again," Ruxin commanded from up on high.

"That's alright." Gwen's heels clicked on the jadeite tiles. "As I said— I have transferred to you all of my Chinese investments. Marong here has lodged the transfer with Pudong. Take a gander, I've included a five-year forecast as well."

Marong, who had stood behind his Master, knelt first, then presented the data slate Gwen had prepared.

"Your lordship— Miss Song's one per cent stake presently generates as much as seventy-thousand HDMs per annum. In Tonglv's Phase Two, she may receive several hundred thousand in dividends. In the future, her share may generate far more... for as long as Tonglv stands."

Ruxin tapped the slate, then frowned. For some infernal reason, Human Magitech disagreed with the prince.

"Allow me, Lord." Marong obliged. Once they reached the bottom of the slate, Marong sensed that his lord's mood vastly improved.

"And in turn?" The Thunder Dragon raised a silvery brow. "You want me to preside over the fate of your mortal kin?"

"And a few friends." Gwen rested a hand on her arched hips. "And of course, collateral borrowing from your treasury for 'OUR' future ventures."

Marong's master tilted his head, his golden irises capturing the girl in their reflection.

"Your grandparents. Your cousins. A Dai, and a Ruì? And this Lulan and Kusu Li. Shall I bring them to my lair? That is the safest place."

"Oh, no, NO." Gwen shook her head. "Just name drop a few times. Arguably, you don't have to do anything, Marong will keep an eye on your investments. But if something goes south, if 'The Great Dragon of Kachin" could pass a note to the CCDI's Secretary Miao, that would be great."

"There's no need for Ruxin to intervene. I'll take care of Jun's progenitors," Ayxin cut in, her golden irises flashing. "I alone am enough to keep the humans cowed."

"I don't doubt it." Gwen smiled with teeth. "But you said yourself that your Draconic-powers and Spatial Magic are limited while inside the Shield. You couldn't even sense the scale you used to spy on me."

"It kept you safe." Ayxin raised her chin. "As was my promise to Jun."

"Yes, thank you, 'Aunty'," Gwen replied churlishly. "For my Uncle, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt."

"Ungrateful brat." The Dragon-princess hissed.

"That's me." Gwen turned away from her uncle's spouse. With a teasing smile, she continued her banter. "That said, I do appreciate your aid. Although, if you want me to feel grateful, then tell me that you did it for my sake, out of the goodness of your own kind heart."

"You think far too highly of yourself." Ayxin glared. "Your grandfather's right. You're an impertinent whelp."

"HA. You females should fight it out." Golos looked up. "The winner can take the Ash Mage."

"GOGO, that's disgusting!"

Golos rolled his eyes.

Marong looked from Gwen to Ayxin, then to the smiling Ruxin and back. He could scarcely believe his eyes and ears. That Gwen acted the equal of these beings who were centuries old and descended from an ancient Mythic was incredible.

"Tell me again of the venture you're planning." Though his Master found the females' rivalry amusing, a Dragon's crystal hoard was paramount. Despite Gwen's well-catered promises, the idea of allowing his "Financial Advisor" intimate access to the currency financing his future ascension made the Thunder Dragon uneasy. "Speak less in tongues."

Below, Gwen motioned for Marong to return to her the data slates she had prepared. With her other hand, she extended her arm, exposing a slender wrist.

"Let's start from the beginning. This is a Message Device. It has an inscribed Core that emulates a Diviner's Message Spell. These are made by various manufactoriums around the world, and they require a Divination Tower to function outside of direct Line of Sight."

"Yes. I know of these Magic Items." Ruxin nodded. "Humans are incapable of communicating with their kind over long distances and so must rely on their craft, correct?"

"That's correct." Gwen detached the bracelet with a silent command, then left the bangle hanging from Marong's fingers. "Let me show you."

Their presenter incanted something under her breath. In the next moment, a series of geometric shapes appeared in thin air. It took him a moment, but Marong recognised the spell as Minor Image.

"As someone who has been paying through the nose for LR Messages to London, I am simply aghast at the business models employed by the Towers for regulating their Message network. Did you know that the Towers erect Divination Stations entirely out of their own pocket? Imagine that! Telecommunication is one the most important aspects of human civilisation, and they're just letting any Mage with access to a Message Device use it willy-nilly! The Divination Stations and its maintenance are paid for by the Towers! Out of pocket!"

The images materialised until a mono-coloured, bright green map the shape of Shanghai and its surrounding provinces solidified.

"Up on this coverage map. I have colourised the sections of Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Nantong Frontiers currently possessing Divination Stations and or Towers. You will note that much of the surrounding regions, despite housing millions of customers— remain unserviced."

"I don't quite follow." Marong's Master frowned, as did Marong. That Frontiers lacked Divination Towers and that Mages had to use Diviners or portable Divination Engines was no surprise to anyone.

"This is where a prospective entrepreneur should come in." Gwen pointed to her bosom, then to Ruxin. "Do you know why the coverage for Message is so horrible, and why humans have so much trouble every time we leave the tier 1 cities? It's because the Message Towers have limited range and scope. Once in a Green Zone, our Devices become virtually useless without a line of sight to our party member. We're blind and deaf out there! Disconnected! While working on Tonglv, I looked into the rationale behind the lack of Divination coverage, and I've found the reason; very stupid reasons— funding and upkeep."

Gwen closed the first polygon image, then raised another in the form of a Tower that resembled the Queen from a western chess set.

"But that's where we come in. As far as I am concerned, there is an easy way to resolve this issue of coverage. By establishing a new Divination-based business I shall dub 'Network-Carriers', we shall front up the HDMs necessary to expand Divination Towers into the Green Zones."

"Have you not said that such an investment is futile?"

"But NOT for us—" Gwen raised a finger. With another gesture, she conjured up several bar-graphs showing the cost of constructing the Towers. "The Divination Stations, Towers, whatever— are a mature form of Magitech, so mature that minimal improvement has been made since the seventies. Our only concern is if IT IS POSSIBLE to generate more revenue than we spend. This is why I am interested in an experiment."

In front of Marong, Gwen made a bright orange map of greater Sydney. The city itself was covered by a large yellow dome, followed by intermittent spots here and there, appearing like the pox.

"Consider Sydney. Outside of the city, there are countless Green Zones where the land is tilled for agricultural output. Yet, most of the folks living in this region have no way of communicating with the Magisters in the city. They would need to write letters, or physically relocate a town with a Divination Tower, a prospect that remain few and far in-between. In times of emergency, timely aid is nigh impossible."

Gwen wagged a digit, and a ring of blue enveloped Sydney's central districts. As far as Marong was concerned, it was the most peculiar use of Illusion he had ever seen.

"This is where we come in. We will raise Carrier-Towers to provide the coverage. Then, we will introduce Glyph algorithms that tie individual devices to 'accounts'. I know the Towers have Magitech Enchanters capable of this capacity because they charge me for my calls with Evee. Anyway, when a customer uses our network for Messages, their mana signature generates a monthly invoice— charging say, a quarter of an LDM per Message, per thirty-second block. Of course, we tithe Messages both coming in and going out."

"In this way, we attain economy of scale. For greater Sydney, for example, about two million individuals reside across the Frontier, and three million in the tablelands. Assuming a brisk business— say, 200,000 Messages across the entirety of a city of ten million souls a day, that's 350 odd HDMs per twenty-four hours in gross revenue. And that's just the beginning."

Another line-chart illusion demonstrated growth potentials. The number of digits indicated on the charts was enough to raise even Ayxin's brows.

"The Divination Beacons themselves last several decades, despite using present Enchantment algorithms and medium-tier Creature Cores. For this reason, with sufficient warding, we really don't have to worry about wear and tear. By that virtue, so long as our Carrier-Towers remain standing, they will continue to generate a small but steady stream of disproportionate revenue."

"Why hasn't anyone else done this?" Ayxin's question cut to the bone.

"Good question!" Gwen spun toward the princess. "The answer is simple. This is a project that requires a confluence of favour, land, materials, HDMs, Magitech— and me."

Gwen conjured the shapes of a dozen different Towers she had seen being used across Shanghai's Frontiers.

"A problem with the existing system is that each of the Towers builds its own Divination Stations with varying degrees of quality, range, and compatibility. Some cheaper Message Devices, such as those for NoMs, may fail to work entirely. Likewise, the Cores used by the Divination Towers are wildly inconsistent, meaning their processing capacity remains inconsistent. During peaks like natural disasters or monstrous incursions, it's not at all strange for Divination-communication to fail."

"And this is where we shall create a bull's market." The girl exalted, opening both arms. "Through mass production, we can lower costs by venturing into standardisation utilising production lines. After that, we plant the Towers, starting with low-risk Green Zones with high economic yields like Sydney and the future Yangon Tower. By working with the resident Mage Towers— such as those my brother-in-craft and Marong control. This will give us a working model to sell to local governments. Of course, once our Carrier is up and running, we shall invest in proper R&D of patented Divination Mandalas."

"And if someone else does mimic this proposal of yours?" Ruxin rested his chin on his knuckles. "Surely, there are better-positioned brokers in Shanghai?"

"GOOD POINT!" Gwen thrust out her chest. "BUT Ruxin, don't you wonder WHY Marong there is doing so well hawking your jadeite? Don't you find it strange how the Tonglv folks owe me their success? Do you know that without me, the Centurion Card and the House of M's credit lending would never exist?"

"Arrogance!" Ayxin hissed, her eyes flashing.

"Let her speak." Ruxin handwaved his sister. "She has cause to be arrogant."

"Thanks, Uncle," Gwen cooed, beaming broadly. "You see, what you uniquely possess isn't Spellcraft, but rather an syergistic system of accounting and billing. What you have... is ME! What I offer you is unadulrated efficacy in managing the Network-Carrier business. What will cost others many times their material investment, we shall attain with impunity. In this, you are a world leader. Trust me."

"Trust you?" Golos snorted. "I've still got missing scales—"


"Gogo! The adults are talking!" Gwen snapped at her Wyvern.

Marong stifled a grin when Golos cowered.

"Marong, can you show Ruxin my bangle?"

Marong raised the Message Device.

"THAT is a Hitachi MSB-211. A horribly marketed Device but one of the best for its size and function. A lower-working tier Mage cannot afford a Device such as this— BUT, together with Marong's Centurion credit program, THEY CAN! What we can do is offer a twenty-four months contract which offsets payment for the Hitachi, including a monthly Message stipend. For example, let's say one such device is usually 130 HDMs, our customer will now pay, over the course of twenty-four months, 245 HDMs. However, the boon is that he or she gets to utilise a high-tier Divination Device without an upfront payment..."

Marong shivered when Gwen's maniac grin split from cheek to cheek.

"AND they're locked into our Carrier-Service, AND they're automatically a gold-member of the Centurion program."

Ruxin rose from his chair.

"… but we're getting too far ahead—" Gwen giggled gleefully with the sincerity of a pyromaniac, setting Marong's nerves on edge. With a hand, she retrieved the Message Device from Marong's fingers. "AND in the future. There will be no need for voice Messages. We will create a series of devices for TEXT! TEN TEXTS per LDM! And TEXT AND VOICE PACKAGES! For corporate, private, and individual users. We can tailor all to suit—"

Once the arithmetics caught up, Ruxin's expression grew troubled. "And your share…"

"For now, I'll take one per cent as before. If I fail, you still have my Centurion income and my Tonglv credit as collateral. In the future, though, our Carrier-Corp may grow so large that not even a princeling of Huangshan can hold down the greed it will engender from others. With enough authority, we may yet become the most loathed corporation in the world! BUT, if and when that happens, I would suggest we issue shares to placate said parties. We shall retain control, of course, but the point stands. We can absorb more allies into our fold. Our network will swallow every place. What we will create, dear Uncle, is a Leviathan!"

"The girl's gone wild!" Ayxin leapt to her feet. "She's drunk on crystals!"

Marong's master stood, half-fulminating with barely suppressed lustiness. "And what will you call this—"

Golos also stood for appearance's sake, feeling awkward that everyone else was standing.

"—Network-Carrier..." Marong articulated helpfully, his hair standing on end, his scalp positively crawling.

"I have the perfect name." Gwen's eyes sparked as she approached the dais. "As our Towers shall be many, I shall dub our new venture— PROJECT LEGION."



A note from Wutosama

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Metaworld-Meta-fics :
"Strictly Caliban" From the always catty @Wandysama
And "An Islander's Meta-Journey" from young gun @Bartimeus
The Mysteries of Fudan, and Other Rumors From the Metaworld courtesy of @vladerag

Metaworld Audiobook : 
AGROSQ Audio now CH 80!

MERRY XMAS EVERYONE! I hope you had a good holidays. 
I HAVE SURVIVED both work and Xmas parties!

Who is the most hated Telecom company monopoly in your country? Our NBN was usurped by Telstra and Foxtel. 

Now I can't even have stable internet. 

NEXT CH maybe NYE or something, lets see how shopping goes... 

About the author


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

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