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A note from Wutosama

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Evee and Ollie's guided tour of London central began a hundred meters from Nightingale's, where the Southbank Lion stood, a silent sentinel guarding the south end of Westminster Bridge.

As it was winter, the River Thames ran blue and aloof, its lapping edge white with rime as the body meandered past County Hall. Different to Gwen's memory of London, there was no "London Eye" jarring the cityscape. Instead, a towering lattice-structure held a shielding transponder amidst a dizzying array of Divination nodes, winking against the cold light.

"All of this feels so surreal," Gwen remarked as they crossed on foot, their noses wrinkling at the mana miasma spewing from endless trains of lorries and busses.

"What, being in London?" Elvia giggled. For Gwen's big day out, the healer was bundled up in a lime-green cashmere jumper adorned with a raspberry beret. The colour-combination was borderline Kiki— though as far as Gwen was concerned, Elvia could do no wrong.

"Sen!" Sen-sen peeked out from a pocket, joined by Kiki, both drinking in the winter sun.

"Yes." Gwen's eyes followed the unfamiliar, and yet all-too-similar skyline. Everything "old" was there: The Palace of Westminster, the Metropolitan Guard Quarters, the Big Ben, behind which one would find No. 10 Downing, the state-sanctioned residence of Lord Magister Blair.

"Did you know." Ollie's eyes twinkled as they approached the pier-side of Westminster. A lightbulb hailing from Mayfair, the Praelector had advertised himself as their guide. "That Big Ben does not actually refer to the clock itself?"

"Sure, it refers to the principal bell inside the Tower," Gwen answered casually, still deep in thought. "And the building is called Elizabeth Tower. After her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee."

"Your patriotism is admirable—" Ollie regarded his companion strangely. "I believe you meant her Golden Jubilee? Her Majesty enjoyed a Commonwealth-wide celebration only two years ago."

"Ah—" Gwen realised she may have let slip a bit of the future. "Of course, what I meant was that her Majesty's rose will never fade."

"Wrong Elizabeth," Ollie chuckled. "But… Elizabeth Tower, eh? I like that."

"Ahaha…" Gwen squeezed Elvia, simultaneously teasing Sen-sen. Seeing that Ollie did not pursue the matter, she changed the subject. "When can we hear it chime?"

"Unfortunately, not until Christmas Eve," Ollie lamented. "It's more so a symbol now. After the Germans damaged the mechanism during the great Blitz of '41, killing the Dwarven artificer responsible for the original design, we've had no end of trouble. It's still accurate, mind you, but the city-wide sonic-spell generated by the bell takes a toll on the delicate instruments. Also, since we all use Divi-Devices now, having the glass thrum and threaten to break is becoming a bother. Of course, for special occasions, Big Ben will toll without delay."

Past the clock tower, the self-guided tourists kept a brusque pace as the trio advanced into the city, sauntering into parliament square. A few passersby stared; mostly gawking at Gwen, others at the two Sprites jostling for space in Elvia's pockets.

At the garden, Gwen met a familiar face.

"Lord Magister Churchill," she declared happily. Keeping an eye on Ollie, she then tested the waters to see if her memory could fill some gaps in London's parallel history. "His speeches are so inspiring— 'We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.'"

"You forgot 'We shall fight in the air'— you're a fan of Minister Churchill?" Ollie appeared pleasantly surprised. "Impressive, for a Frontier girl. Do you recognise any of the other statues here?"

"Gwen, how do you know of Lord Churchill's speech?" Elvia cocked her head adorably. "Did they teach this stuff in China?"

"I read it back in Sydney." Gwen resisted the urge to mount a lumen-recorder onto a pole to snap a picture of Evee and herself. But then again, who would she send it to? Yue?

"But— I've never seen you read while we're in Sydney," Elvia demanded suspiciously. "You're always training or eating or sleeping."

"I was wrapt in secret studies." Gwen hand-waved her friend's suspicion. "With Master, you know."

Here and there in the square were other statues, most of which Gwen did not recognise. Names like Lloyd George, Jan Smuts, George Canning, escaped her entirely. Others, like the immediately recognisable statue of Honest Abe, was obvious at a glance.

"Who's the woman?" Gwen asked when they reached a humble bust less grandiose than the others. "Millicent Faulkner?"

"Miss Faulkner fought for the right of women to own property and participate in the Spellcraft revolution," Ollie stated proudly. "She's one of ours."

"Ours?"

"The founder of Newnham College, of Clough Hall fame." Ollie's voice rose an octave. "Quite a few of our alumni have statues in the city. I can point them out if you like."

"That would be helpful but unnecessary." Gwen curbed her guide's enthusiasm. "Let's keep going, I want to see the rest of the landmarks, hit the museums."

"Well, ONE Museum," Ollie snickered. "Besides, the Commonwealth's collection isn't so easily accessed. We'll need permission to see the rarer displays."

"All the Museums, we would take until New Years," Elvia chimed in. "Also, we need to break for lunch."

"What's good for eating?" Gwen asked. In China, there had been so much food that she was spoilt for choice. In London, she had thus far kept to a strict diet of meat and vegetables; interestingly, the pastry and cakes had been excellent.

"Fish and Chips?" Elvia suggested. "We'll go by Buckingham, then circle back to Trafalgar. There's a delightful pub called 'The Lord Moon' which serves wonderful whiting. I've been there with Sylvie."

"Sure." The corner of Gwen's lips twitched. Fish and Chips? Surely there's better food? "But since this is London, how about authentic British Curry?"

"You'd have to go to Soho for that." Ollie made a face. "I am surprised you know, much less fancy, Demi-human food. Spice, from the Indian subcontinent? I don't know. A lot of our expatriate Mages are addicted to the stuff— says its flavour from the Gods. I tried it once. Far too pungent for me, and the heat— good lord, its like eating fire. Goes down like magma, comes out like—"

"You folk seriously don't eat curry?" Gwen felt as though slapped in the face. No curry Tuesday? Did people here survive on steak and vegetables?

"Did you eat curry in China?" Elvia was keen as well. "If you recall, we had it once in Sydney. It gave me a tummy ache."

"They don't make it the same in Shanghai." Gwen realised she had not seen the controversial Gandhi statue while in Parliament Square. If there was no readily available curry, what did that imply for the Mageocracy's history with the Indian subcontinent? Moreover, what did it mean for this world's East Indies as a whole? "So the NoMs don't eat it?"

"Spice is far too expensive for NoMs." Her Praelector shook his head. "What supply that reaches London isn't lucrative enough for high profit, nor is it abundant or cheap enough for the masses."

"I see." Gwen licked her lips. Butter Chicken, Tikka Masala, Beef Korma, Rogan Josh. Gods above, her mouth watered uncontrollably just thinking about the food. Perhaps at the Museum of London, she could gain some insight as to what had changed across the Mageocracy's five-centuries of colonisation to deny Britain its most quintessential cuisine.

 

 

The tourist trio had next planned to skirt Buckingham Palace via the avenue called the Mall. Unfortunately, they only made it as far as Marlborough House before they were halted in their tracks.

"G-Griffins!" Gwen gripped Elvia so hard the girl yelped. "Bloody oath! Evee—"

Overhead, the sight of Royal Griffins made her heart flutter. Standing in the shade of a mulberry tree, Gwen fought to encompass the majesty of an eagle-lion with wings of copper-gold and white feathers hinting at silver. Even the half-mythical Golos, who was 'ruggedly' handsome— lacked the regality of Britain's iconic heraldric beast.

Was it the mounted Knights that plucked at the heartstrings? Gwen wondered, feeling her face flush. The red-jacketed Mage mounted atop the marvellous bird-beast sported three plumes on his helmeted headdress. Below the chin, the Griffin Guards wore polished cuirasses, inscribed with Glyphs and runes too complex to decipher. On the Griffins' heads, shoulders and fore-claws, they were protected by magical barding in matching Mithril that glinted as the birds sailed through the sky.

"And this is why you don't fly near the Palace," Ollie warned his companion. "The Griffineers hunt first, ask questions later, assuming you survive."

"They look so awesome," Elvia squealed.

"Evee, who do you think is stronger." Gwen breathed out when a Griffin turned to face the trio. "Gogo or— er— is that patrol coming toward us?"

Her observation proved acute.

A trio of Griffins, each the size of a caravan, alighted on the broad strip of tempered, crimson asphalt.

"Stay calm," Ollie warned his House-sister, while Elvia hid behind her and her Sprites inside her jacket. "They're likely asking for our ID. Papers at the ready—."

With a grand buffet of breaking air, the Griffins landed.
A head double the size of Gwen's torso turned to regard her with its golden eyes.

"Halt!" the lead Knight approached. From the Saxon-scarlet satin adorning the man's armour, Gwen could see that this was a Mage from Mathias' most desired Ordo— The Most Distinguished Order of St George. "Why do you approach the home of her Majesty?"

"Lord Knight— here are our identifications and credentials." Ollie presented their Public Practice of Magic licences. "We hail from Cambridge."

The Knight scanned their cards with his eyes. When the man took Gwen's ID from her to peruse its tiny, bible-print list of Schools and annotations, the man's eyes widened.

"SKAARK!" the Knight's Griffin snarled. Leaning closer to the girls, it sniffed them both. Elvia hid her Sprites, hiding in Gwen's shadow.

Gwen's feeding-hand itched. She wanted to give the Griffin a drop of Almudj juice. But, with Ollie besides her, it took everything she had to resist stroking the Griffin's beak. This close, the creature's beauty was heart-breaking. From its feathers to its divinely-sculpted profile, the Griffin was a thing of superb intelligent design.

"Very well," the Knight returned a greeting. "I have taken note of your credentials. Now, why do you approach?"

"We wish to sight-see," Ollie declared. "To my awareness, the public is allowed to approach up to and outside the Victorian Gate, are they not? We wish to contemplate the crest of the Unicorn and the Lion, so that we may wish her Majesty well."

"I would allow it, usually," the Knight paused. His piercing blue eyes then locked onto Gwen. "However, proximal admittance for a Class VI War Mage will require clearance from the Tower."

"Ah—" Ollie bowed. "Apologies, I was not aware, Lord Knight. We shall take our leave."

The Knight did not immediately dismiss them. Instead, he nudged his Griffin's flanks so that it approached the Void Sorceress.

"Hello," Gwen said nervously. The Griffin's beak could arguably pierce her chest, puncture Elvia, and still had more length to spare.

"Young Lady, the word is that you Purged the Red Gulch?" The officer, who Gwen could see was in his forties, kept a tight reign of his bird-mount. "By yourself?"

"I had Evee here to help me." Gwen patted her healer on the back. "There was a guy called Mathias as well— a bloke from St Micheal's. He came along as support."

"The Rothwell boy?"

"The very same."

"Good on him." The rider leaned down and extended a hand. "I am Knight-Captain George North. I am pleased to see such a worthy addition to our nation's military arm. I do not doubt we may see each other again in the future. I hear you have a tamed Kirin?"

"I do, Sir North." Gwen shook the man's mailed glove, then curtsied a little lower than she wished. "And yes, Ariel is a Kirin— of sorts. There's Caliban too, with its many forms. May I know your partner's name?"

"This is Sparhawk." The Griffin Guard looked pleased with Gwen's response. "We are bound by blood."

"I'd love for Ariel and Sparhawk to meet, but don't think I can summon my Familiars here," Gwen replied carefully. "Nonetheless, it's nice to meet you both."

"Likewise. My apologies for detaining you so far from the gate." The Knight-Captain was surprisingly cordial. "My liege is much occupied this time of year. As her guards, we take no chances."

"Of course. I understand," Gwen simpered, stunned that she was having a conversation with a Royal Magister seated on a Royal Griffin, outside the Royal Home of Elizabeth II, discussing how close she could get to the Queen of England. "We don't wish to inconvenience you."

"I see we understand one another." The Knight backed his mount away. "— Sparhawk?"

Of its own volition, the Griffin nuzzled Elvia, enticed by the healer's presence, or at least the morsels in her pockets.

"Good luck." The Knight coaxed his mount way. "Cambion, Clifford, we're resuming patrols!"

"Yes, Sir!" The others took to the air. In a minute, the Griffin flight once again turned to specks above the palace grounds.

"Well." Gwen turned to the others once the last bell-beat of wings faded. "That was… something."

"Isn't it?" Ollie breathed out.

"It's the dream of every boy to be a Knight," Elvia provided some insight into Ollie's sigh. "And the dream of every Knight is to join the Griffin Guard."

"You get to raise a Griffin from infancy to adulthood," Ollie appended Elvia's proclamation. "You receive an egg, once you're inducted, to bond with your Astral Soul. If the rider dies, the Griffins will hunt down their partner's killer to the end of the earth. Once avenged, or if the quest is no longer possible, they kill themselves. The same could be said of the riders."

"Jesus."

"That's why they're the ultimate symbol of loyalty," Ollie said. "Lions, Unicorns, and Griffins— Courage, Purity, and Loyalty— the watchwords of the Empire where the sun never sets."

Gwen watched Ollie's chest puff with pride. "How very nationalistic."

"It's only natural." Ollie shrugged. "We're citizens of the Mageocracy, after all. As Mages, we're the keepers of the state's Mandate."

"Of course." Gwen looked around at the empty avenue, deserted save for a few Mages like themselves who had business here. So much land, so many cloud-clapped spires, gilded statues and golden-winged cherubs had been dedicated to just one Household.

But for how long could such a system sustain itself?
History splutters, but it chugs on, driven by the momentum of the aeons.
Like a glacier being pushed out to sea, the resentment of the NoMs would pile up, until one day, like climate change...

Gwen felt her will waver. Why should she, a benefactor of the Tower systems, act as the catalyst? What if all she desired was a palace for herself and Evee?

But no— she cautioned herself. Touching Elvia's golden curls to calm her mind. Some things ought to be done, not for the sake of picking a path, but because they were right. If not for collective gain and a mutual profit, why do anything at all?

 

 

"… and here we are, Trafalgar Square! The heart of the city! Up there's Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, Hero of Trafalgar, perished during the action against the French and Spanish allied fleet. His sacrifice led to unchallenged Britain supremacy over the Atlantic and Pacific for the entire Hanover epoch, culminating in the establishment of the Mageocracy as we know it."

Nodding, Gwen surveyed the scene.

Trafalgar Square was as she had recalled from her alter-life. The enormous roundabout was there, as was the Georgian and Edwardian Gothic-revival architecture that surrounded it. The difference, as far as Gwen could see, was that the iconic memorial felt more prominent and boisterous, matching the gravity of the Mageocracy.

That, and the Lions that adorned the base of Lord Nelson's column were instead a foursome of Griffins, each with their wings tucked, eyes sharp, and talons fully extended.

The fountain monument beside Lord Nelson was also many times larger than Gwen recalled. Unlike its modest incarnation in her world, a massive Grecian sculpture in transmuted bronze marked its centre. Upon closer inspection, Gwen perceived the mangled series of fins, arms, busts and buttocks displaying an epic struggle of tumultuous battles at sea. At the very top of the structure, a triumphant Lord Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood rested the butt of his sword-wand on the head of a bowed Mermen King.

"For the conquest of the Caribbean and the successful defence of the Mediterranean from the resurgent Mermen," Ollie helpfully provided the details. "The one been trodden on is the Coral King of Ionia. It's a wonder that forty ships of the line managed to down a Leviathan, using only quasi-magical black powder and Dwarf-forged Adamantite Harpoons. Lord Collingwood was Lord Nelson's Second if you're wondering— both are British legends."

"Were they notable magic users?" Gwen inquired, feeling oppressed by the excessive history. Australian chronicles tended to favour the First Fleet, sans the Indigenous folk, and focused more on looking ahead. There was a lot to be proud of, though much of it involved desperate struggles celebrating local vagabonds like the Rogue Mage Ned Kelly, or acts of English futility like Gallipoli.

"Lord Collingwood was an early example of a Master Transmuter." Ollie pointed to the plaque. "Lord Nelson... was talented in other ways."

"How so?"

"Today, we would call him a Squib." The Cambridge Magus forced the words from his throat. "I know, absurd, right?"

"Wow." Elvia stroked Sen-sen with one hand, toying with Kiki with the other. The plants purred, mewing softly.

Impressed, Gwen tried her best to visualise the battle at Trafalgar. For herself, it wasn't hard to imagine a time when a man with a talent for command, a knack for rousing speeches, and a mind for tactics was far more important than a girl who could summon Wyverns and matter-devouring Caliban-beasts. If this world had indeed once entertained such individuals, what had gone wrong during the Spellcraft Revolution to curb the involvement of non-magical individuals in British society?

As a beneficiary of the neo-libertarian new world order, Gwen suspected she knew the answer.

"Shall we head to lunch?" Elvia tugged on her sleeve. "The Lord Moon is close."

"Sure." Gwen turned away from the bubbling mayhem of amalgamated metal. A fin here, a boob there, contorted limbs all over. "Fish and chips it is."


Gwen felt conflicted.

Her biggest disappointment came in the form of a modern theatre made from glass and steel that sat beside Southwark. The ubiquitous Millennium Bridge was missing as well, making the stretch between Blackfriars and London Bridge exceptionally inconvenient.

And then they arrived at London Tower, also known as the Old Palace, "The Ivory Tower", The Shard.

Over its nine-century year history, the Tower had served sequentially as a palace, an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, an administrative record office; and now the heart of the Mageocracy's Tower System. For the locals, the soaring spire's design had attracted an atypically dry English moniker— "The Shard"— for its likeness to a chipped HDM.

Compared to Gwen' recollection of the original structure— London Tower and its surroundings proved far more extensive. With Mage Flight becoming commonplace, the moat was now a spacious lawn, within which, in centre of its double-walls, sat the fabled Tower. Though the designers had kept its original facade, it wasn't difficult to spot the late 20th-century addition— a section a kilometre in height, levitating above the medieval base. Combined with the dozens of renovated, medieval spires surrounding the base block, the scene stole all breath from Gwen's lungs.

"Wow," she marvelled on approach. "It's taller than the Chinese one. They really built a floating superstructure?"

"It's the 'tallest' Tower in the world. I mean, it would have to be. It houses the Crown Jewels!" Ollie's eyes misted over with admiration. "Between the Crown, Sceptre and the Sovereign Orb, our Artefacts are powerful enough to cow even Dragons. You ever heard of the Heart—"

"Yes, the Heart of Flames—" Gwen mumbled, her mind suddenly mired in the past. In the recess of her skull, a baritone voice hummed the Empire's nationalistic masterpiece, "Jerusalem".

Bring me my wand, of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of Desire:
Bring me my stone: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Heart of Fire—

Her Master had sung that song, fighting embarrassment to mollycoddle her upset. Who would now do that again? Gwen despaired even as she swallowed her feelings. Gunther growled rather than hummed, and Alesia's singing-voice sounded like she was vocalising from the bedroom.

"I know the story. It's the Core of an Ancient Dragon."

Ollie sighed with relish. "Did you hear about the Red Dragon incident we had in '01?"

"I did." Gwen nodded. How could she forget, that was the day she "arrived" in this world.

"Once the fires died down, her Majesty had a word with Sythinthimryr, the keeper of Carrauntoohil, regarding the egg episode. Palace officials say the Crimson Queen was invited into the Tower of London to gaze upon the Heart, after which she willingly went home without needing reparations. It was quite the story when it broke."

"The tale of the tail-wagging Dragon Queen, eh?"

"Well." Ollie grinned. "In the worst-case scenario, the Order of St George is well versed in hunting down Titans and Mythics. That and Carrauntoohil is within teleportation distance of the Shard. Arguably, after an incident like that, we have good cause to parley with the great lizards."

"That's awfully kind of the government." Gwen wondered if the incident really was as cleanly wrapped up as the reports said. In her opinion, someone like Ravenport may provide a more nuanced view of things.

"That's the way it is." The researcher laughed. "Shall we?"

The trio made their way into the inner courtyard, up the ramparts, and between the gate towers.

"Not many people here," Gwen observed. In Shanghai, even Fudan's faux Towers were shoulder to shoulder with activity. "Slow day?"

"Oh, Gwennie, people don't 'walk' into the Tower," Elvia chuckled. "We won't be either, there are short-range Teleportation Circles at the base of the old Ivory Tower. It's a security measure."

"My mistake. Well done, Evee." Gwen ruffled Elvia's hair to disguise her embarrassment. One can take the Omni-Mage out of the Frontier, but not, apparently, the other way around.

At the gate, the trio was greeted by Tower Guards in midnight-blue uniforms, embroidered with markings in gules. Upon the men's bosoms sat the Royal Crown, tied together with an overlarge hat, a thick coat and shoes sporting what appeared to be a stylised Tudor rose.

Once the guests made a show of their licences, the stoic guards stood aside.

"Are those Beefeaters?" Gwen whispered.

"You know about Beefeaters too?" Ollie was well delighted by her knowledge. "That's not a term you hear too much outside the service. Every Custodian is a veteran Mage who has served his or her tour in her Majesty's beloved corps."

"We should show the proper respect," Elvia reminded her boisterous, all-too-casual companion.

"You know, the other half of the Beefeaters are the Ravens at the Green Tower. There are thousands of the buggers when the weather's fair. They've been around since the eleventh century, or so the story goes. Most of the flock's quasi-magical now after Henry VIII's decision to make use of the local flock. At least a hundred at any given time serve as Familiar to the Beefeaters, who feed them beef sourced from the Royal farms. I've heard that some Transmuters have chosen to join them, leading the murder. This one Sun article said that when young Mages tried to Magic Missile one, the Raven turned one of the delinquents to stone."

"If the last raven dies, the Tower falls," Elvia added ominously. "So the story goes."

"Hold up." Gwen's scalp crawled. "You're telling me there's Ravens that are in fact, people?"

"Which is why it is best to leave the birds well-alone while in London," Ollie advised. "Imagine netting a Magister…"

What Gwen protested was the loss of privacy to the fact that some Raven-guy could be staring at her right now. In fact, she seemed to recall seeing a few here and there while they toured the Thames.

Her complaint, however, was silenced by their stepping into a circular portal located inside the spacious liminal space of the magically amplified Ivory Tower.

"We're in a secure pocket dimension used for transit—" Ollie explained before they teleported into the interior. A split-second later, their circle flashed quicksilver, depositing the trio in the main lobby. "— and here we are. Welcome, to London Tower, House-sister."

"Holy—"

Inside, the lobby of the Ivory Shard could only be described as monolithic. Above them, the ceiling stretched upward indefinitely, though Gwen suspected some illusion must be at play. All around them, the horizontal space expanded outwards like an Olympic oval. Reminding her of termite mounds on the savannah, obsidian service counters sat on white marble, stretching as far as the eye could see.

In place of pillars, Teleportation circles in aesthetic, circular tubes gave the sterile space a retro-future aesthetic.

"From here, just approach a counter and they'll port you to the right sector within the Shard." Gwen's helpful House-Brother pointed to a smiling woman who was unoccupied. "Shall we?"

At the counter, the middle-aged woman's eyes lit-up. "Welcome to London Tower. Miss Song, I presume?"

"You know me?"

"It's our job to know." The woman's smile was kind and affecting. "How may I help?"

"You're famous!" Elvia cooed. "Miss Devourer of Shenyang."

Embarrassed, Gwen slid over her ID. "I'd like to check my CC account, please."

The clerk placed her card onto a small, elevated dais just enough to hold a phone. A glow of Divination engendered, then the clerk tapped on an unseen data slate. Once a hidden device spat out a receipt, she continued. "Here's your script, Ma'am."

Elvia looked away, as did Ollie.

"2901." Gwen whistled, pleasantly surprised. "Where did the—"

A pair of tendrils from Kiki cupped her mouth by pressing a petal against her lips.

"Gwen! You can't just say that out loud!" Elvia hissed. "That information is private."

"You wouldn't want to invite hucksters." Ollie looked around nervously, as though Gwen was showing off an armful of Creature Cores. "Let's keep moving. Did you have any business to conduct at the Tower?"

"No, not yet." Gwen packed away her ID, then waved to the clerk. "Thank you, Ma'am."

"Wouldn't dream of it, Miss Song." The woman appeared genuinely taken by her presence. "Not for the daughter of Lord Ravenport."

From smiling serenely, Gwen stopped dead in her tracks.

Elvia's eyes went wild.

Ollie swallowed nervously. Having spent some time in her company, a few inklings of Gwen's trouble with Ravenport had leaked through the sieve of idle conversation. "Gwen… don't mind it."

"Gwen, that's not true... right?" Evee appeared the sort easily swayed by print media.

"Of course not!" Gwen snapped, first growling with ire, then deflating when she realised there was nothing to be mad about. Like Lady Grey forewarned, tabloids were a double-edged affair. "Ravenport and I— We're not anything! We're less than nothing!"

"Gwen—" Ollie pulled her aside. "Keep your voice down."

"Don't be upset." Elvia patted her sides. "Let's go to our next stop."

"Not enough time for the Museum." Ollie quickly let go of Gwen's clammy hand when he realised he had lewdly waylaid his House-sister without her permission. "Shall we head for the Isle? Master Samson should be waiting for you."

"Alright." Gwen noticed that, as advised, the others around them had their ears perked. She wanted to stay in The Shard longer, to see if there were Demi-humans, possibly an Elf or two, but Ollie was right.

The Tower could wait. Now, it was time to visit her London abode.

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