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Richard materialised an elaborate, oaken box. On its matt-black surface, the Coat of Arms of Cambridge glimmered in silver.

"Your robe, for Hall."

Gwen opened the container. Inside was a long black gown with bell-sleeves and open forearm seams. At its rear sat a large black hood, bound and lined in ermine. Also included was a perfumed card from Lady Grey, welcoming her to the college, as well as a note with curt instructions on etiquette and attire.

"I was with the Vice-Chancellor originally. He was your chaperone," Richard explained, biting each syllable. "Until the Duke intervened."

"Does the Lady know?"

"The Vice-Chancellor gave me the gown, then returned straightaway to the Old Court. Assuming he's looking to save his skin..."

Richard grew silent.

Gwen studied her cousin's face. The young man wasn't his usual, candid self. Was it safe to speculate that the Lady knew? While she did not possess the Lady's Message Glyph, she knew the Vice-Chancellor's— though Messaging the man was as useful now as blaming Richard.

She placed a white hand against the roof of the Rolls Royce, feeling the mana thrumming through its interior. By the wayside, her cousin stood guilty as charged, watching Gwen ponder her entrance into the lion's den.

Outside, the paparazzi's lumen-flares blanketed the car's boxy, antique exterior. She smiled at the reporters, wondering if she should say something. Maybe a cry for help? "If you find me in a ditch later, blame the Duke of Norfolk?"

"Dick, what happens to you if I leave?"

"I don't know," Richard confessed. "Don't mind me—"

A test? Gwen wondered. And if so, was all that Customs business a part of it? Was Richard a hostage? Or did he find himself a better patron? In his usual candour, Dick did say he was a willing participant. Whatever the case, her answers sat in the car. The question was if she was woman enough to find out.

"Richard," Gwen said. "Hold onto the box. We'll talk later."

Her cousin nodded.

Turning on her heels, Gwen then stepped into the cabin, one white leg after the other.

The lumen-recorders flashed.

Like a perfect egg, the vehicle's doors sealed shut.

Inside, the air was warm and temperate, smelling faintly of leather.

She did not immediately turn to regard her "benefactor" but took a moment to compose herself.

"That's going to hit the back pages for sure," an impeccably pronounced, accented voice drifted across the impossibly spacious interior of the Phantom. "My faultless reputation, ruined by an outlandish lassie. What would the Sun say? Or the Telegraph? Tabloids, they're worse than Transylvanian bloodsuckers."

Conjuring courage from Almudj's encircling Essence, Gwen craned her neck so that the slow focus of her demanding gaze would deliver its full effect.

Charcoal dress pants. Silk shirt. No tie. A fitted jacket. A trimmed beard. Eyes the colour of ice. Black hair with bands of silver.

Mycroft Ravenport. The Big Bad Wolf of London.

The Duke of Norfolk appeared nothing like his son. He did not look malicious; assuming malignancy had a look. Indeed, one glance at Edgar was enough to reveal the insanity simmering behind the man's eyes. Conversely, Mycroft Ravenport looked an actor, a dappled gent who frequented chamber orchestras and attended contemporary art openings. Apart from his high forehead, the most notable feature of the patriarch was his gaunt, skull-like face, particularly the man's aristocratic cheekbones and his lips, pursing to form a thin, red line.

"You're very calm." Mycroft appeared amused. "I like that."

"This isn't my first abduction." Gwen forced the corner of her lips to curl. "The excitement wears off."

"Abduction?" Mycroft appeared genuinely puzzled. "I just liberated you from those egg-headed Militants, and now I offer you unmolested passage to Cambridge, where Justine breathlessly awaits her new ward."

"Am I to understand that I am free to leave?"

"Anytime." Mycroft raised both hands to show that he meant to harm. "Though I am sure Director Reeves is salivating at a chance to get at your ring, and yourself. Besides, I haven't given you any of your documents. I am Mycroft, by the way."

Gwen extended a hand.

"You're not going to Shocking Grasp me, are you?" Ravenport's mouth twisted into a grin. "I've been told you do that. Shock people."

Her scalp crawled. Where did the man get that little detail?

"I prefer civil discourse."

"Is this palatial vehicle, reserved for state officials, not civil enough to bolster your confidence? Nevermind— here, your papers. Please be at ease."

A thick manila envelope materialised in Gwen's extended hand.

Gwen opened the envelope. Inside was a calf-skin leather booklet with the crest of the British Mageocracy imprinted in gold, consisting of the Royal Coat of Arms resting upon a spell tome. The paper itself consisted of the same material as Spell Scrolls. On the first page was a portrait, underneath which sat her biometrics.

When she channelled her mana into her new Multi-Pass, the illusory portrait came alive. It was a lumen-recording she had taken back at Fudan when Dean Luo processed her papers.

"That's an Empire-wide Multi-Pass, good for all Commonwealth Frontiers, as well as tier 1 European cities. We have a treaty with the central powers. It's very convenient."

Gwen sorted through her next piece of "paper". There was a card in plated silver. It was her new Public Practice of Magic Licence, currently authorising self-defence magic up to tier 5.

There were other bundles of paper in the envelope as well, such as certificates for her items, a tax-form for crystals and other materials. Her ginseng had been approved as well. There was even a health certificate for the truck-load of Spam she had in her possession.

"The idiot at the Customs," Gwen said. Stowing her papers. "That was you—"

"The etiquette is to prefix or append requests with 'Milord', or 'Your Grace'." Ravenport returned her glare with a casual glance. "Welcome to high society, Gwen. You can stab me, shock me, throw me to the Void, but you can't be RUDE. It's unladylike."

Gwen swallowed the "Fuck you, Milord" simmering at her throat. There was a time for anger. Now was not a good time.

There was one final item in her envelope: a pair of silver wings. The weight of the metal in her hand, however, felt wrong.

"Mithril Wings— near impossible to replicate," Ravenport said. "Justine said you wanted a pair, and so I sponsored you in place of the others. A word of advice, though. I would refrain from flying at all above the city's capital buildings regardless. The Paladins take their job very seriously."

Gwen glanced at her the Unlimited Flight badge, then at the landscape outside their window. From her memory, Heathrow was already outside of the central business district. It meant that from here to Cambridge, it was mostly countryside. Assuming these documents were real, she could just fly away.

"Satisfied? Did that pacify your upset?"

Gwen studied the Ravenport patriarch, looking for clues, tics, something to indicate his exterior had a crack she could pry to get at the real man inside.

Naturally, the Duke's facade was flawless.

"Good. Savile, we're going."

Soundlessly, the car began to move.

"Your Grace." Gwen reiterated. "Was Officer Waterford your doing?"

"Yes."

"Why?" Gwen asked the obvious.

"None of your business. Though it was good to see Justine's new pet ruffled."

"Did I perform to your expectation?"

"Adequate. Not nearly vicious enough." Ravenport inclined his chin. "Although I would like to apologise for not expecting your… provincial choice of attire."

"What's wrong with this?" Gwen crossed her legs.

"Once you join our ranks, you will learn that a personage in our positions has very little to fear," Mycroft spoke with an air of instruction. "But the masses do have a way of getting under one's skin. For a young lady entering Justine's service, many unpleasant things await. A sorceress with your infamy is a bone the tabloids could chew for years. Just between you and me, if you could send a Shoggoth into the Sun's editorial office, I'll ask the Queen to issue a pardon."

"I am surprised Your Grace is candid about mass-murder."

"Don't be morose."

The Duke of Norfolk casually gestured. Between them, the middle console transformed into a bar table. From a hidden nook, Ravenport produced two glasses.

"Red or White?"

"Red."

"Good choice." Mycroft picked a bottle. "Cabernet Sauvignon from the banks of la Gironde, '87, I believe. A good year. I am fond of a thick, dry, red. It looses up the palate."

While Mycroft ensorceled the cork with a Mage Hand, Gwen scrutinised the father of the psychopath who had violated her. So far, they had remained civil. Gunther had foretold that Ravenport would not make a move on her. Though Gwen held Gunther in the highest esteem, what if he was wrong? What if they're headed for Dover, and Ravenport's looking to dump her chopped up body over a cliff? Assuming a fisherman finds her carcass, would Gunther laser down the Ravenport's Estate? If so, what would happen to Sydney?

Mycroft poured the wine into a pair of enormous Bordeaux glass to air, instantly filling the car's interior with an oaky redolence.

"I don't understand the purpose of our unscheduled meeting." Gwen attempted a direct approach. There were too many possibilities, and her paranoia didn't help. "Surely Your Grace is a man of such importance that his time has to be portioned out by the quarter-hour?"

Mycroft swirled his Bordeaux glass, breathing in the heady scent. Raising the liquid to the light, he gazed at her through the enormous glass. "See the thickness? Beautiful— and bold, like blood."

Gwen felt her fingers perspire. "I am barely old enough to drink."

The Duke of Norfolk handed over her glass. "I like to let the reds sit. Patience is a great virtue when it comes to wine. The older the casket, the richer the relish, the more satisfying the delay."

Gwen didn't have to be a genius to read between the lines.
Ravenport knew.
And from the sounds of it, he knew a lot.

The duo sat in silence while the wine aerated.

"But enough about you." Ravenport read her mind. "Have your associates ever spoken of me?"

"You're the Duke of Norfolk," Gwen now recollected from memory, her adrenaline clarifying a distant conversation she had held with Walken. "You hold the dual-office of Earl Marshall and the Lord of the College of Arms. You sit opposite the Lord Great Chamberlain during the opening of parliament—"

Parliament! Gwen recalled that Ravenport had his eye on the Prime Ministership in May. To make a viable coalition, Gunther had apprised, Ravenport would not dare make an enemy out of the Middle Path's independents, as the Tories lacked the support to maintain a legislative majority. Steering the Mageocracy was a balancing act, and Ravenport was no more immune to the shackles of power than Gunther.

"I understand if my titles are confusing." Mycroft laughed. "Bonk's Genealogical studies will be in your lessons, I am sure. In addition to being the 18th Duke, I am also the Earl of Arundel and Surrey— those are my land-holds. My Baronetage also includes Beaumont, Maltravers, Fitz, Alan, Clun, Oswaldestre and Glossop, though most remain in the grip of the Wildlands. My official title, as you have guessed, is Lord Earl Marshall, or Lord Marshall."

"I see. Now that we're acquainted." Gwen dried her fingers on her dress, making sure she had a firm grip on the glass. "Care to throw a Frontier lass a bone? What do you want from me?"

"How now." Ravenport looked at her disapprovingly. "Where's the sport?"

"Sorry to disappoint," Gwen replied. "I was raised by Drop Bears."

"Yes, the most deadly fauna in your penal colony, or so they tell me. You know, your stoicism reminds me of old Deathless, your Master. He was never one for tea nor titles. The Crown gifted him a Baronetage for his service. Instead, he asked for a piece of land in Hungary. That did not turn out well, or so I've heard. Quite the stain that made on Kilroy's reputation."

Gwen sifted through the crumbs, pecking at the words. Mycroft's ability to meander was astounding.

"Milord, I am still awaiting an answer to my initial question."

Ravenport raised his glass half-way, Gwen mimicked her opponent.

"For maiming my boy—"

Tink!
He struck her glass with his own.

"—I am going to make materials out of your Dragon-blooded body. Then murder everyone you love—"

"!"

Before Ravenport even finished, Gwen felt the invasion of Elemental Dust filling the cabin. With every cell shrieking for immediate action, she called upon her Familiar to defend her. If Ravenport wanted to start, then she would finish. "Caliban!"

"SHAA!"

To her complete surprise, her Void fiend manifested without interruption, filling her side of the back lounge with a two-metre Void python hankering for inbred flesh. Caliban's segments split at once, sending out its twin tendrils to envelope her foe.

THUNK!

Half-a-metre from Ravenport, her creature struck a barrier.

Her wine glass, still humming, spilt its contents over her dress, painting Caliban partially crimson.

The Duke's laughter filled the cabin. "Too green by far, Kilroy's Apprentice. But then again, he that made this world made us all differently. You're smart but shallow, and all too honest— a terrible combination for a politician. Lord Shultz has his work cut out for him, I see."

"Cali, calm." Protectively, Caliban coiled about Gwen's person, wrapping around her waist, resting across her lap. Did that barrier work both ways? Gwen wondered. They usually do.

Caliban persisted in its menacing hisses.

"Ha!— straight for the jugular? So you CAN be vicious," Mycroft praised the girl and her snake. "I was expecting something grandiose. You could have been the first Mage in the history of the Empire to let loose a Thundering Shatter in a Phantom IV. Who knows if the Spatial Mandala will hold? What an obituary both of us would make. It'll be a fun piece of trivia for future generations."

Gwen glared, her cheeks glowing pink as her Essence tamed the rising bile. The man was teasing her, confusing her. Was he joking or serious about murdering her loved ones? She was inclined to believe the latter.

"It must be oh-so-pleasant to bait me, Your Grace. A big and burly, Duke of the state, bullying a Frontier innocent."

"Innocent?" Ravenport picked up his glass, then took a sip. " Speaking of innocence, Elvia Lindholm—"

"SHAA!" Caliban hissed, growing engorged. Gwen's eyes turned prismatic.

"— will be in Ystradfellte," Ravenport continued. "Don't stare. It's rude. I merely asked the Tower to keep an eye on her whereabouts. Can you imagine if some tragedy were to strike the poor lass? I have it on good authority that you or that sister-in-craft of yours will find it in your hearts to blame me, somehow."

"Your menace is leaking." Gwen fought back her agitation. The bastard! She wanted Caliban to bite the man so badly! The rotten bastard! "If you want a piece of me, just take a bite. Leave Elvia out of this."

Ravenport snorted, his tone grew admonishing. "How vain, Dragon-girl! Such conceit! Do you think yourself the protagonist of an Epic? Must every ploy point to you? Must every scheme undermine YOUR position, YOUR power, YOUR future?"

"SHAA!" Caliban retorted in Gwen's stead.

Ignoring her Familiar, the Duke swilled the wine, then stowed the glass in some unseen storage. "I'll have you know that the 'innocent' Miss Lindholm is caught up in a vortex of her ineptitude and idiocy. As for why I am telling you this— consider my gift of erudition payment for your contribution at the Teleportation Circle."

Ystradfellte. Gwen repeated silently to herself, committing the tongue-twister to memory. Glancing at the Message Device by her wrist, Gwen calculated that she was trapped for at least another forty minutes.

Ravenport adjusted his sitting posture. For a Dust Mage, the old Duke's haleness was comparable to a younger man. As a comparison, Guo, her Salt-talented grandfather, looked like he had yet to recover from Mao's Long March.

"Are all you provincials so fond of staring?" Ravenport observed her unflinching eyes. "Fine, gawk if you like. What do those Dragon-eyes see?"

Gwen scoffed.

"I see sin puckering on sin. I see a Duke who has clothed his naked villainy with odd and ends stolen out of holy writ. I see a Minister of larceny branding himself as a saint while peddling deceit." She lowered her voice. "You worked with Sobel. You destroyed Sydney."

"Shaa!" Caliban added with brevity.

Ravenport's eyes bore into her own, no longer caring that it was "rude".

Gwen gulped. She did not expect that paraphrasing Shakespeare would have the Lord Marshall stare as though she was the eighth fucking wonder of the natural world.

Ravenport's mouth twitched.

"I destroyed Sydney?" Ravenport's control returned. "Do you have proof?"

"We know Edgar is your son. And we know Sobel worked with him."

"And what does that mean? Did you speak with Henry's wife? Share a cup of tea? Did she boast that a friend in parliament was giving her a helping hand with destroying one of the Mageocracy's dearest resource-Frontiers? Because, as LORD MARSHALL of the United Kingdoms, how I shall benefit?"

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree now, does it?"

"You better have crumpets with Sobel's teeth marks stowed in that ring of yours." The Duke's voice rose an octave. "For a decade, the thrice-accursed NoM-loving socialists couldn't irk me in the slightest, but you've managed to give me a migraine in twenty minutes. Well done, talk about biting the hand that feeds!"

"What, you're giving me a hand?" Gwen snorted.

Ravenport took an exasperated breath.

"Are you not our Class VI teenage War Mage? Am I not the Lord Earl Marshall, an imperial agent of Her Majesty's finest forces? Were we to engage in total war, I would be your highest administrative officer. Cometh a second Beast Tide. Even Gunther would fall under my command."

"Your son—"

"—Was a bastard, a fool and a tool."

"—died—"

"Ingrates die every day, what's one more? Did you kill him?"

"No."

"Care to trade his murderer for a reward?"

Gwen bit her tongue.

"Sin puckering on sin? Now that's rich." The grey-haired Lord faced her with a derisive snort. "Do you have any idea how the Empire stands at the apex of this infested, Demi-human world? Have you ever seen a Mermen port razed by our Royal Marines? Arboreal Villages, burnt to the last elf? What do you think keeps an empire oiled and moving? It's endless rapine! The things we did in Indochina and Africa! The obstacles your DEAR Master Kilroy had parted to plant those Towers. The horrors he made Sobel commit! Oh— you sweet summer child. Holy writ? Our cities are built on bones. And most of it isn't from monsters."

Crumbs and more crumbs, Gwen pecked at the facts. "I know—"

"No, you don't." Ravenport wavered her retort. "You know so little, but that doesn't stop you from lecturing your betters, now, does it? Allow me to elucidate your narcissistic little mind. You are an asset to the Mageocracy. Lady Grey wants you for the Middle Faction— I want you for the Grey Faction. The Militants would love to have you but lack the means. But that's fine. We can learn to share; there's plenty of Gwen Song to go around—"

"And as for what you know— the answer is 'very' little. Edmund has paid the ultimate price, and Her Majesty's government is well-informed of the blemish on my family name of eight centuries. Edmund's resources were mine, but his actions were not. In the wake of Sobel's fiasco, the Mageocracy almost lost a city and did lose one of its architects. But turn, we gained two boons— Gunther Shultz embracing his destined office, and the unveiling of Deathless Henry's legacy."

"What legacy?" The words were barely out when she realised what Mycroft implied.

"What else?" the Lord of the College of Arms replied. "A stable Void Sorceress with the ability to Consume the talent of your enemies. Friend or foe, Human or Dragon."

"Shaa!" Caliban hissed, writhing in her arms as her agitation mounted. "SHAA— Shaa!"

Gwen's blood ran instantly cold. Was the Duke implying that she was going to be force-fed, this time by the Mageocracy? Not even China dared to push her that far.

"You see, even though Sobel was a godsend against the ongoing Beast Wave, we all knew she was an unstable Warding Glyph," the Duke continued. "To no one's surprise, we couldn't control her, and in the end, neither could Henry. But that's alright, because YOU, my dear, in your tiny dress and your self-righteousness, self-dealing hypocrisy, will be everything Kilroy ever wanted. You're his redemption. Justine is convinced you'll inherit Sobel's mantle and do RIGHT by dear Henry!"

"Your Grace, I know you're trying to muddy the water," Gwen fired back. "Stow it. If you think a little panache can drive a wedge between me, my family or my Master—"

Mycroft dismissed her words with a wave. "No, Gwen. We're long past deception. I am here on a mission of mercy."

Lord Ravenport's voice took on a stern and unyielding tone.

"As far as I am concerned, there is NOTHING more important than the supremacy of our species and the perpetuation of the Empire! How many people have lost loved ones? What's a 'son' in the grand scheme of things? I would trade TEN Edmunds for HALF a Sorceress as talented as you!"

"You think that I am here to constrain you? Limit your potential? No, you pig-headed provincial! I want you to live your life and PROSPER! Do your business. Dance with your Dragons. Infest the countryside with this LEGION. Mould the land as you see fit."

The Duke's presence filled the cabin.

"Then, when others say NO! And when others undermine your work, steal your labour, destroy your citadels, maim your friends— you will think of our conversation today. Then you will come to me, just as your Master came to my father— then you and I, we shall talk of Empire."

Gwen gulped.
Ravenport had revealed so much that the buffet of information was impossible to digest at once.

"My Master came to—?"

"To my father— But that information will cost you."

Gwen ground her teeth.

"Fine. How about Richard," she said at last. "What have you done to Richard."

"Processed his immigration form, then inducted him into King's College," Ravenport answered drily. "Who do you think Lady Grey had to ask for such a favour? Who else can elevate an insignificant, unbacked-nobody to the highest institute of learning in the land? Richard wanted to enrol in Wolfson? That boy will be eaten alive. Only in King's will he find sympathy. Oh, you can doubt— but I consider my boon an investment. He's a wise young man to keep on hand, not like some fool hussy hailing from a penal port."

Ravenport's facade was once-again flawless. Gwen prided herself on her ability to read others, but the Duke of Norfolk was written in a whole other language. Outside, against the corner of her eyes, an endless English countryside flittered from meadow to meadow, beautiful beyond words, but also daunting.

Gwen sat in silence, slowly digesting the Duke's words.
Henry Kilroy.
Elizabeth Sobel.
The Middle Path, the Greys, the Militants.
Mycroft Ravenport was right in that were many things she did not know and may never know. Her Master's past loomed like a depthless pool of bottomless brine. What did Henry seek from the Senior Ravenport? What exactly did the Mageocracy do to Sobel? What does it mean to retread Lizzy's Path?

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

"Why the fiasco in the terminal?" Gwen reverted to her original topic. She disliked the silence.

"The intricacies may just be too much for your pretty little head," Ravenport answered. "If you wish to know— keep an eye on the headlines. As always, you overestimate your importance."

The silhouette of Cambridgeshire came into view.

The horizon was now taking on a lovely shade of rye, painting the linen land a dusky gold. Cambridge was close.

"Let's draw a line in the sand." Gwen mentally tallied her meandering conversation with Edmund's father. "All of your cock and bull— it's a warning, isn't it? Step on your toes and the Station Incident will happen again and again, and my enterprises will go exactly nowhere. Meanwhile, Richard languishes at King's, pressed under your thumb. Likewise, Elvia's life is but a whim away. You don't want to deal with Gunther directly. You don't dare to cross Lady Grey. You want your precious majority in parliament, so you slip these needles under my sole and teach me to step lightly. Have I read you correctly, milord? Do I sound elucidated, Your Grace?"

"You've arrived." The Duke indicated to the appearance of suburban buildings outside. "Since you're such a wunderkind, let me leave you with a last bit of advice so that you don't embarrass yourself. We're not enemies. Not yet. Your brother-in-craft brought to us what Edmund's done. The Crown knows. So does the assembly. So does the House of Lords."

"Sydney's reconstruction has gone rather swimmingly, don't you think? All those resources, just pouring into a penal colony. All those work permits signed and delivered! Did you think that was because of Master Shultz's boundless charisma? Which Faction do you think purchased his Leviathan Core? Who do you think donated the Nightmare from their private collection?"

"And Lady Grey, The honourable Justine Maxwell Loftus," the Duke of Norfolk gave her a look of utter contempt. "We're cousins, no different to you and you Richard. The same blue blood flows in our veins, just as it flows lacklustre in yours. We nobles may eat our own, but in the end, it's all in the family. It doesn't matter which of us you choose as your patron. The rules are the same. You give— and we take. If you demand too much—"

The Duke appeared as though he wanted to pat her head or pinch her cheek, but was deterred enough by Caliban to think better of it.

"Listen to Mr Huang, Gwen." The car stopped. "He's a smart boy."

Pop!

The doors opened. Outside, the vaulted pillars of the Old Court, ochre and crimson and enveloped with snow, awaited. Richard stood by the door, pale with white mist streaming from his mouth and nostrils.

"The woods have wolves." The Duke waved her goodbye. "And you're just a little girl in a tiny dress. Don't mistake your friends and enemies."

Gwen placed a hand against the overhead rails. She retrieved her Void Familiar, then with one leg out in the cold, she turned to regard Mycroft.

"Cheers for the heads up, Your Grace." Gwen's mind felt as cold as the frigid frost kissing her unprotected feet. "In the future, I'll be sure to live up to your expectations."

The two jousted with their eyes.
Gwen's were vivid and striking, Ravenport's hard and unyielding.

"Savile." Mycroft Ravenport was the first to break eye contact. "We're returning to the Estate."

The Rolls Royce silently rolled from the forecourt. From the Old Court's interior, two beadles in their black coats rushed out with umbrellas to greet their guests.

Richard held the box containing Gwen's robes, standing beside his cousin.

"I'll be waiting… for Hall to finish," he managed to eke out. "I am sorry this happened. It wasn't my intention to be a burden."

Gwen reached for the box in Richard's rigid fingers.

A tug-of-war ensured, perhaps it was best she no longer had her Draconic-strength.

Their eyes met.

In the near-three years that she had known Richard, Gwen had never seen her cousin beg. But now, she saw the desperate plea in his eyes. There were no words, for words would have sullied the purity of Richard's appeal.

On her cousin's dark brown hair, a snow crystal melted, as fragile as hope, as delicate as trust.

Gwen made up her mind. She would not let Mycroft worm into her heart.
The Duke professed to know everything about her, but really, the arrogant bastard knew nothing at all. Could the Lord Marshall imagine a world inter-connected as a worldwide web? A system of government where every citizen voted? That without a single mote of mana, humans had split the atom, harvested the power of a star?

From her connection to Amuldj to her otherworldly knowledge, Mycroft was the one in the dark. He may profess to know the past, but she had seen the future!

"Come on, ya goose." She punched Richard on the arm. "Your balls must be in your intestines by now. Let's head somewhere warm, and you can show me how to wear this damn gown."

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