Metaworld Chronicles

by

Wutosama

Chapter 378 - Gwen Song Observation Diary Part III

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A note from Wutosama

Expect Typos, only 2 edit passes because marking exams. That and baby has decided he now hates the milk bottle.

 

Tuesday, 5th of July 2005
London, Westminster.
Project Mockingbird is nearing completion, and Iris Robertson has delivered the manuscript to the subject. A copy of the document has been obtained for your pleasure.

"Dear Fifth Cabal," read the page inside the manuscript's jacket. "I have made this copy available for the birdies always watching outside.

                          — From your friends at Westferry METRO Printing Press."

Ravenport snorted.
The girl had quite the imagination.
Nonetheless, despite this latest elucidation, the moniker of "Mockingbird" still made Ravenport wary. That was why, when his real work was finished, the Duke materialised the manuscript to check for insurgent details.

If need be, members of Westminster's Parliament may move motions to ban books. Any such action, however, was sure to raise hell among The Commons. Even her Majesty who rarely took a stance frowned on the notion of book burning, for during the Great War, a great many pigeon-winged grimoires penned by Necromancy partisans were destroyed to satisfy the Accord.

Still, the more Ravenport masticated the prose within this "To Kill a Mockingbird", the more he felt the suspicion of something unspeakable coming to pass.

At the same time, he couldn't quite place his finger on the ley-line.

Running his thumb across the spine of the stapled manuscript, he flipped through the finger-thick novella once more. Within the ghostwriter's vision of the girl's avian tale, there were three Mages by the avian name Finch— the Father, Henrik; the son, James; and the youngest, a little girl called Allie living in post-Tide Sydney's regional Frontier. Henrik was an Arbiter, a Pan-European War veteran-widower who had immigrated to Sydney, only to catch the full brunt of the Tide. The story, strangely enough, was not told from the perspective of Henrik but narrated through the deceptively observant voice of Allie, a future Fire Transmuter with great potential. In the first section of the novel, the kids hunted Gobs and amused themselves with their friend's imaginary Quests, causing no end of trouble around the outback township. Their live-action roleplay, unfortunately, progressed into demeaning a half-dumb local veteran with crippling trauma from the war. When finally the Henrik caught wind of the kids' actions, he schooled his children with this to say:

"You'll never really understand a person, be they NoM or Mage 'til you consider things from their point of view— 'til you walk a mile in their shoes."

It was a good analogy, though Ravenport suspected that as the father possessed the might of a Magister, he could have meant Polymorph.

As the plot progressed, the kids went to Primary School and befriended NoMs for the first time. When James brought an NoM girl home for dinner, Allie insulted the girl, then bespoke that James' companion, "Isn't anything at all, she's just an NoM." To Ravenport's distaste, it was then the family's NoM nanny, Old Goolagong, who gave Allie a tongue-lashing with the full support of father Finch.

There were many such highlights in the novel, including one that stayed with Ravenport. It was an interlude incident involving a raving mad Abyssal Goose that roved into town, sending the guards to flee. In the end, it was Henrik who emerged from their house to wrangle the beast with his sorcery, teaching the kids that though violence is a solution to most problems— it should never be the only solution. There was a "spell" of the hand and a "spell" of the heart— and one must never lose sight of why God gave a Mage his or her "gift".

The primary plot then opened midway in the sense of an NoM labourer accused of attempted rape after she showed him kindness. At first, the kids were appalled, until their father revealed that he was the Arbiter defending said NoM. When the kids experienced the derogatory truncation of being "NoM-Lovers" at school, the father told them that "'NoM' is a foul and ugly label'" and that "NoM-Lover is a term used by ignorant, trashy people."

Once more, Ravenport felt that within the book's perfectly reasonable prose, there existed an air of sedition.

Eventually, after defending the NoM with his life and having James and Allie dissuade an angry mob of low-tier Mages from tearing the NoM limb-from-limb, the climax struck in the courtroom, and it was this particular segment that gave the Duke of Norfolk the heebie-jeebies.

In court, the father of the victim demanded nothing less than a live lynching of the "yonder NoM" who was "rutting my Mary." Yet, through Divination, hard evidence and tack-sharp cross-examination, Henrik managed to prove beyond doubt that it was the father himself that had caught Mary flirting with the man, and then in a fit of insane, petty rage, aberrantly abused his child.

Then, with the full and disgusting picture revealed, the case came down to a jury of Magic-wielding peers serving in the local militia. There, despite the impossibility of an NoM overpowering the teenage Transmuter and clear evidence of the father's sins, the Mages voted against the NoM. When the kids asked in the aftermath if dingoes had fled with the court's justice, the father had this to say.

"There's something in our society that makes the Magic-wielding folk lose their heads— and for that, they couldn't see past their noses if they tried. In our courts, when it's a Mage's word against a NoM's, the Mage always wins. It always takes a Mage to fight a Mage— a sad fact of life. The Empire's courthouse is a place were a Mage and a Non-Magical Human is equal, but a court is only as sound as its jury, and the jury is only as sound as the Mages who make it. I have already used every tool available to save Thomas, Allie— but in the secret courts of Mages' hearts, Thomas was dead the moment her father heard Mary hollering."

Curiously, that was not the end of the novel. During the case, Henrik publically made Bob into a pariah. In his rage, Bob sought revenge by attacking Jame and Allie. Though young, the just-Awakened James held off the foul-mouthed Evoker just enough for a saviour to arrive, preventing Allie from her first live-burning. As to that saviour, it was the veteran who the kids earlier mocked.

In the aftermath, there was one more poignant allegory for the kids to learn.

"It's a sin to kill a mockingbird. They don't do one thing except for miming our voice and singing their hearts out. That's why its a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Finally, in the epilogue, Henrik went on to become a Tower Master, James became his Paladin, and Allie took up a life of service fighting against exploitive and malignant Mages exploiting NoMs as a firebrand sorceress.

As a bystander reading between the fictive lines, Ravenport felt an indescribable sense of passive oppression. One for the plot's heartrending description of the quality of life NoMs experienced after the Tide, and two for the fact that the book was a blatant attempt at altering Kilroy's legacy.

But more than that, what Ravenport mulled over was what the story represented of the girl's innate views on the Mageocracy.

For someone like Ravenport, the Non-Magical Human population was a fact of life in the same manner serfdom was a fact of the medieval Empire. All around Terra, the Hvítálfar had the Träälvor; the Deepdowners had the Murk Dwellers; the Trolls ruled the Hobs, and the Hob ate the Gobs who ate the Snots. Therefore, it was well-within the Chain of Being that Mages were superior to NoMs, despite NoMs giving birth to Mages.

As to who gets chosen, who awakens and what wild magic emerges, the "gift" of arcanistry was a force majeure in the same manner as the Beast Tides. Of course, Humanity had since gained some control over incidence and occurrence of such things, but the fact remained that a dual-element Lightning-Void Sorceress could be born from a renowned Salt Mage and a low tier Evoker.

Was this why religion remained so entrenched? Ravenport mused himself.

Nonetheless, the girl's propensity for NoM welfare fed the Duke of Norfolk food for thought.

As a subject who was shaping up as the Mageocracy's "Vorpal Sword", it only made sense that the Mageocracy sheathed her in a jewelled scabbard. A naked blade was, after all, a danger to oneself, no matter how skilled the wielder.

Politically speaking, the girl's actions aligned strongly with the socialist members of the Labour Party. She appeared to believe that indeed, NoMs were "Equal" both abstractly, socially and economically to the Mage.

Yet unlike the inward-turning Leftists, she was a right-winged economist. Within the Mageocracy's political spectrum, only the Grey Faction's most ardent members believed in total economic integration on a global scale with Demi-humans. Of which Gwen had already demonstrated by using a Chinese-Burmese True Dragon's hoard as her piggy bank, as well as integrating Dwarven technology into her and the Tower's businesses.

How could the silly girl hope to reconcile these two extremes when arguably, for most Demi-humans, Mages were a food that fought back and therefore demanded recognition, while NoMs were food, full-stop? What would happen when she forges a blood-bound alliance with a Clan of Draconoids who hunted Humans for sport? What if she had to choose between all-out war with a Vampire Count leaving or leaving the NoMs as dumb, bipedal blood-cattle?

For that, not even the Duke of Norfolk had answers, though he did look forward to the girls' inevitable consternation.

Thursday, 7th July 2005
London, Westminster.
A request has arrived from Trawsfynydd asking after the subject. I have forwarded the request to your official desk. RP.2143.323.00.1

Monday, 11th July 2005
London, Westminster.
The subject has returned from visiting Knight-Initiate Lindholm in Battle. Between mid-July and October, Initiate Lindholm will be assigned to the 4th Expedition to Glenveagh, Northern Island, as a part of the Order's annual duties against Fomorian aggression. Her Knight, Sir Mathias Rothwell, will be attending; together they make one of ten Ordo-attendants assigned to Lord Glenwell's Forward Operating Base at Lough Beagh. Lady Grey has expressly warned the subject not to travel to Glenveagh lest she amplified Ireland's problems.

Friday, 15th July 2005
Cambridge, Peterhouse.
With the aid of Magister Brown and Major Kott, the following spells have been provisionally made available to the subject. The Shard has approved of the following variations.

Lesser Sanguine Mantle
Abjuration-Transmutation
Casting Time: 81 Major
Range: Self
Components: Blood, Somatic
Duration: Channelled
For the original conversion by Henry Kilroy, see Sanguine Mantle. This unique variation of Sanguine Mantle only works with Demi-human and Magical Creatures. Derived from True Vampiric Thaumaturgy, the spell requires blood-letting as a part of its initial-invocation, either from the user or the caster's opponent. Once manifested, the Mantle serves as a fully articulated heavy-tier armour, with a potency that increases with the caster's Affinity in Abjuration. When in use, the armour remains in a semi-gel-like state as per the original, reacting instantly to incoming attacks, offering significant boosts to physical and elemental resistance, as well as spell-resistance. Users should beware that damage to the armour exhausts the plasma fed into the spell. Without means to replenish one's vitality, self-inflicted exhaustion from blood loss will occur.

Reactive Bone Shield
Conjuration-Evocation
Casting Time: 81 Major
Range: Self
Components: Creature Core, Somatic
Duration: Until Dismissed
For the original conversion, see Necromantic Archives for Bone Shield. This unique variation of Bone Shield is a modified alternative that cannot be fuelled by Human remains. Instead, it utilises etched Creature Cores to mimic the original invocation, allowing the caster to conjure forth articulated barriers formed of Elements unique to the material consumed. Once active, the reactive shield manifests a number of times approximately equating the caster's tier of Affinity in Abjuration.

Note: Of the two spells, Reactive Bone Shield was put into circulation in the Shard's Grimoire, while Lesser Sanguine Mantle has made its mark as the subject's Signature Spell.

Sunday, 17th July 2005
London, Westminster.
The subject's contingent of NoM accountants from Shanghai has arrived at Heathrow. Following quarantine procedures, the men and women received their visitation permits and relocated to the Isle of Dogs.

"Morrigan." Ravenport briefly glanced at the dossier on each of the tier 1 city clerks. Like most Westerners, he was prone to Asian face-blindness, and so chose to rely on the judgement of his mistress of secrets. "Are there anything of note with these… workers?"

"They're from the group responsible for bringing down the Tonglv triumvirate," Morrigan explained. "As far as NoMs go, their backgrounds are clean. Their previous employee, Professor James Ma, is a squib with little dealings outside of tertiary education and his more recent role acting as CCDI's internal revenue auditor."

Ravenport eyed the report once more. "This is unprecedented."

"It is rather unusual," Morrigan agreed. "Forty-three expatriate NoMs moved from the Orient into the Empire in one week, and from a Communist nation no less."

"I meant the cost." Ravenport tapped his fingers on the table. "Gwen spent over fifty thousand HDMs moving nameless NoMs from Shanghai to London. What kind of NoMs are worth that kind of money?"

"They're experienced professionals in their field."

"We have analysts as well, here in the kingdom." Ravenport touched a finger to his temple to massage his throbbing head. "NoM auditors… is she going to replicate Tonglv in London?"

"That probability is high." Morrigan ran the numbers. "A reckoning of the Isle of Dog's internal accounts may be nigh; our Mages are no less immune to skimming funds than the Orientals."

Ravenport eyed another stack of reports he had yet to have time to decipher.

"The land sales began last week," Morrigan reminded him. "If you recall, there was a double-page advert in the Metro and the Telegraph. The IoDRP sold its first allotment within twenty-four hours."

"What's the isle's land value now?"

"Approximately 578% since January, and rising."

"Give me concrete numbers."

"The Isle of Dog is a small peninsula." Morrigan conjured up a shadowy, illusory map. "But it now has the transport infrastructure rivalling that of a major hub in London. If we discount the inner dock and the printing press…"

Morrigan pointed to the outer edges of Millwall, tracing her fingers along the seawall until she reached Cubitt Town. "… there's more than two decade's worth of developments to be made. The apartment towers she proposed are also highly unorthodox. The filter rooms and the parking is underground, as expected, but the ground floor and the second floor will not serve as a foyer, but as shopfronts, cafes and restaurants adjoined by waterfront parklands."

"How much to purchase a two-bedroom suite overlooking the quay?" Ravenport furrowed his brows.

"Between 25,000 HDMs to 45,000 HDMs off-the-plan, milord." The Sprite was quick with the mathematics. "Many of the NoMs in the area are selling their leaseholds to the highest bidder for thousands of HDMs, then purchasing homes outright adjacently in Rotherhithe and Greenwich."

"… Preposterous!" Ravenport breathed through clenched teeth.
NoMs with HDM! What's next? Mermen wanting to buy studios adjoining the Thame?

To an NoM labourer who usually used the overinflated coin currency the state provided, a hundred HDMs were a veritable fortune, enough to keep a family of four fed for a year. Now, overnight, more than a hundred NoMs were moving out of Millwall with more HDMs than they would ever see in their lives. Was that a good thing, Ravenport wondered, or something that will bring the newly wealthy leasers untoward danger and misery? After all, it was one thing to possess so much HDMs, and another thing to be able to keep the proceeds.

"Did you obtain a copy of their intake?"

Morrigan made a strange face. "Milord…"

The Sprite materialised a richly produced pamphlet hard-covered with Wildland vellum. "I passed a Message through the duck. Subsequently, Magister Eric Walken gave my crows one of these."

Ravenport raised a critical brow, then ran his finger over the cover. There was an illusion-Glyph embedded into the vellum, one that activated once he sent a jolt of mana into the parchment.

Instantly, a scene of the Isle of Dogs choked full of gleaming skyscrapers, gardens, terraces and parks came into view. Doubtlessly, a master Illusion-artisan had meticulously crafted the faux-skyline.

"Interesting." He opened the first page.

A flood of information popped into existence, hovering over the inscribed vellum.

"The subject calls this an 'Infographic'," Morrigan explained. "It is a little amazing."

In the next moment, the illusory sorceress' sultry voice began her siren's song.

"The Isle of Dogs Restoration Projection Corporation presents its first integrated, Illusion-infused Quarterly Report to communicate how our business operates. Within this report, you will find fact-checked, internally-audited performance metrics, as well as an introduction to our prospects— know that always, transparency is the isle's watchword..."

The scene changed, switching to a headshot of the subject in a grided window, next to her, Ravenport recognised the faces of Maxine Loftus, Jane Rothwell, and Lucy Astor. In the fourth column, there was a handsome mien with a stag-horned head, who Ravenport could only assume to be Ruxin. The fifth column contained a fair of faces he recognised as the siblings from Yangon's royal household.

He turned the page.
The visage of the girl smiled at him alluringly.

"The Mageocracy in which we operate is rapidly changing. Many global trends, including urbanisation and magi-tech from both Dwarven and Elven sources, are reshaping the way Mages and our Non-Magical family across the Prime Material live their lives and build their homes..."

"How do I skip this?"

"Turn the page, milord."

Ravenport turned the page. There was a number that popped up in emerald green, under which there was a smaller font.

"… 16.3 Million?" The Duke of Norfolk almost dropped the hardcover pamphlet.

"That includes all forty units in the initial sale, including two discounted penthouse suites."

The subject's voice continued in the background. "To our esteemed investors, we would like to report that our profit after tax in the second quarter of 2005 is 9.5 Million HDMs…"

"...What's the girl's share?"

"Her consultancy rate is 1% of net." Morrigan's eyes appear to glow in the dark. "Her stake in the IoDRP is 34%, though near all of it is technically owed to the Dragon Ruxin. She likewise has proxy control over Mayuree and Marong's 4%."

"She has generated 165,000 HDMs in six months?"

"After Corporate and Individual Tax, milord, the subject has acquired between 100,000 to 110,000 HDMs."

"9.5 Million HDMs…" Ravenport felt his pulse quicken. Last financial year, the entirety of Norfolk Estate's income was a "mere" 4.75 Million HDMs, and most of it was spent on maintenance, reconstruction and public service. The amount that reached the estate's coffers was less than 500,000 HDMs.

Yet here, the untitled girl made in six months a quarter of the income of his entire estate! He was the Duke of Norfolk! He maintained properties from the edge of Hunstanton to the western reaches of Great Yarmouth! Of course, the estate wasn't his only revenue stream, there were also the Royal Docks, the Grey Markets, Sotheby's Auction House, proceeds from the Militant's wars, so on and so on, but this was one girl! In six months! With no peerage or land!

"Turn the page, milord." Morrigan appeared to be enjoying herself.

Ravenport wondered if he should turn the page at all lest his hypertension acted up again, but did so anyway with the mind of a martyr.

The girl's smiling face and striking eyes appeared once more.

"By 2010, we aim to generate a billion HDM in turnover…" her voice began.

Ravenport snapped the vellum shut.

One per cent of a billion crystals was ten million HDMs.

At the bare minimum, the girl would be worth a million HDMs a year by 2010?

If such a subject was to become the Master of a Crytal-forged Tower, what would her Majesty make of her? Ravenport felt his shirt grow clammy. A Tower Master with that kind of financial backing and that kind of personal income; had such a thing ever occurred in the history of the Mageocracy? How should his Faction react to such a being?

Tuesday, 19th July 2005
London, Isle of Dogs
The subject has let it be known that "beta-testers" of the Dwarven Press will receive discounted ink and free mechanical service; late-comers will pay full fare. Together, including the Shard's Archive Division, a total of 128 units have been ordered, including a ten-year loan contract with the Guardian Newspaper.

Thursday, 21st July 2005
London, Westminster.
The Dwarven Captain, Hanmoul Bronzeborn, son of Dwomrul, kin to the Alchemist Yossari Vildrenbrandt, has arrived at the Isle of Dogs, bringing news of progress throughout the Murk. Though the tunnelling itself has progressed commendably, there were significant losses from both our Adventurers and the Dwarves' Iron Guards. The subject has promised to convene with Hilda, a Deepdowner at a later date when an opportunity arrives.

Saturday, 23rd July 2005
Cambridge, Emmanuel College
I am pleased to report that the murder previously involved in the Monster Catcher incident have befriended Dede. The duck's greed has proven to be more acute than previously anticipated, which has made the creature susceptible to gastronomic and economic temptations. A suspicious Magister Brown has made enquiries through the Shard; though we have chosen not to disclose any unnecessary information.

Monday, 25th July 2005
London, Westminster.
The METRO has reached 700,000 in circulation and has begun delivery to outer suburbs and shires around London. The paper's continued publication of the Count of Monte Cristo has contributed significantly to the METRO's success. As of this time, the paperback edition of the novel's first volume has gone on sale together with "Mockingbird". Due to pressure from the Barlow Group, most of London's chain-bookstores have chosen not to carry books from the Metro Press. However, the subject has retaliated by allowing both books to be sold by the three thousand odd NoMs distributing the METRO. Significant friction has resulted throughout the industry as a result.

Tuesday, 2nd of August 2005
Cambridge, Peterhouse
Progress befriending the duck known as Dede continues. Though the creature's original home is the Duck Ponds at Emmanuel, it has grown accustomed to following the subject to the Isle of Dogs. There, it has gained a popular following among the children at the orphanage, where it now acts as a foster-patron. The children have begun to call themselves "Children of the Duck". Milord, as yourself have sponsored orphans of the military, I do believe "The Crow Children" make an excellent moniker.

On this day, Ravenport decided rewarding excess blood to Morrigan was a bad idea.

Tuesday 9th of August 2005
London, Westminster
Milord, allow me to note that Trawsfynydd has continued to ask after the subject. Master Eldrin has enquired if he should send a contingent from the Diplomatic Corps. See MM 413.524.32.9

Thursday, 11th of August 2005
London, Westminster
Phase II of the Isle of Dogs Redevelopment has started in Cubitt Town. The second high rise block will consist of 55 units split between 20 studios, 20 two-bedroom apartments, 13 three-bedroom apartments, two penthouse suites and 3,700 square meters of commercial space overlooking the now pristine inner dockland. The projected cost of the design rests at 837,000 HDMs, with another 200,000 in liquid capital preserved from Phase I profits.

Wednesday, 17th of August 2005
London, Westminster
The Earl of Huntingdon and the Viscount Torrington of her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition have issued an injunction on the floor of the Upper House against "To Kill a Mocking Bird" on the grounds of its seditious allegory. Fierce contest has arisen from Her Majesty's Government, lead by Dame Emilia Callaghan, Chief Whip, climaxing in a near-brawl on the parliament floor. The ghostwriter, Iris Robertson of Dublin, has refused all interviewers, leaving only the comment "Let the people judge." The Barlow Group's backers, together with London's major private publishers, are likely behind the move to shut down "The riotous press at Westferry".

Ravenport rubbed his chin.
As if he hadn't got enough on his plate with the American upstarts in the Elemental Sea or the Lycanthropic tribes in the Niger Delta; now the House of Lords was pressuring his office to give up the dirt on Iris Robertson. Of course, he would if he could, but the NoM was a tool and not even the original wielder at that. What could the woman give up? Nothing but a waste of his time. Had the girl planned this, or was it a simple coincidence?

Conversely, this French fellow, Victor Verne, was receiving attention like no other. Though he confessed to having composed the text from a "discovered, partial manuscript" with elements of "realism and historical research", the man was fast becoming a trending celebrity in the English and French-speaking world.

"Morrigan, if any of the Militants do anything stupid to Iris Robertson, record everything, especially if Gwen gets involved."

"I wouldn't worry, milord, but I shall do as you ask."

"And why is that?"

"The writer currently resides on the Isle of Dogs," Morrigan replied. "A stone's throw away from the Printing Press, there's enough Mages and Dwarven Golems there to fend off one of your Queen's best Griffin Flights. Dominic Lorenzo has also put safety measures in place for the subject's pet author through the Cabals."

"… I see." Ravenport took a moment to gather his thoughts. Taking into account Eric Walken, Fabricator Golems, Lady Grey's Kennel Master, the Chinese Mages permanently stationed on the Isle of Dogs and the students working odd jobs on-site, he really couldn't imagine a scenario where a bully gang of sorcerous thugs broke down an author's door. "Well then, carry on."

Tuesday 23rd of August 2005
London, Isle of Dogs
The METRO has issued a double-page spread condemning the censuring of Mockingbird, together with signed petitions from the Labour protests. As a result of the parliament's censure appearing throughout the Telegraph, Herald Sun, the Guardian and the METRO, sales have increased fifteen-fold. Internal documents from the subject's press indicate that well over 64,000 copies have circulated.

Ravenport sighed deeply.
His political companions had truly raw-dogged the Cerberus by bringing this damn book of no-repute into public ill-repute. With "allies" like these, who needed enemies?

Friday 26th of August 2005
London, Westminster
The debate over the book's contents continued to rage, dividing opinions in both the Upper and Lower Houses. Chief Whip Callaghan has cited the impossibility of censoring a book now so widely in circulation and has invited her opposition to try and silence "the people".

Monday, 5th September 2005
Cambridge, Peterhouse
Sales of "Mockingbird" has broken 100,000. Circulation of the Metro's latest edition has broken 1,000,000 with a special edition promoting the book. Concurrently, the IoDRP has taken out multiple double-page spreads in the paper lauding the prospects of the Isle of Dogs with a public announcement that they will support NoM and Mage developments on the isle equally.

Wednesday, 7th September 2005
London, The Ritz Carlton by the Thames
The subject has invited London's high society to attend a celebratory banquet for the press's recent achievements. Much of London's community and its business leaders have responded to the invitations sent by Lady Grey, Lady Rothwell and Lady Astor. Scenes from the banquet have dominated the back pages.

The Duke of Norfolk unfurled the Herald Sun, then sat back with a frown.

He raised his brow at the third Elven master-crafted evening dress Gwen had displayed since returning from Elfhome, a lilac-pink piece blooming above the waist like a flower, leaving her neck and shoulders a little too bare for English sensibilities. Below her tapered waist, the train was a flowing river of Moonmoth silk glamoured to resemble dew-laden wisteria.

He regarded the lacquer-panelled ceiling for a moment.

Ravenport knew for a fact that the Herald Sun considered the girl their top-ten public foe. Yet, its editors, like Void Fiends, were instinct-driven to chomp at the bit when presented with Lumen-pics of beauties and celebrities. That the publication freely publicised the girl and her activities with gusto was, Ravenport supposed with consternation, a form of masochistic professionalism.

Friday, 9th September 2005
Cambridge, Peterhouse
The Sixth Cabal continues to report troubles in the Yellow Sea, especially in the Kraken-infested Purple Zone between China, South Korea and Japan. The Mermen mentioned in the earlier report have become a significant menace. Preliminary findings by Tokyo's Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office has given us a name for their presumed leader— High Priest Lei-bup, a fact confirmed by the CCDI. By your will, I have cross-examined all reports concerning the subject and found the following receipt from before the commencement of the 2004 IIUC. It seemed she at one point ordered a container of rice for a Mermen tribe on "Turd Island", whose'chief goes by the name Lei-bup. There exist no other evidence of direct or indirect contact. Please note that "Lei-bup", pig-Mer for "the round-bellied one", is a prevalent Mermen name. The probability that a High Priest, a shallow-water powerhouse is the same plebian the subject has encountered is extremely low, though not impossible.

Sunday, 11th of September 2005
London, Westminster
Trawsfynydd has asked after the subject's progress. I have sent Master Eldrin a comprehensive report. See MM 413.524.32.21

Monday, 12th September 2005
Cambridge, Peterhouse
The subject has commenced her Michaelmas Admissions Examination.

Friday, 30th September 2005
Cambridge, Peterhouse
The results of the subject's secondary performance percentile bands for the 2005 final senior school intake are as follows:

Biometric Admissions Test (BAT) - S+
Categorical Affinity -
- Evocation: 5.71 — 6.06
- Conjuration: 6.27 — 6.35
- Transmutation: 5.04 — 5.17
- Abjuration: 4.18 — 4.44
- Divination: 2.00 — 2.09
- Illusion: 3.21— 3.78
- Enchantment: 3.21 — 4.05
- Other: 5.79
Elemental Affinity -
- Lightning: 7.17 (7.84) - 7.23 (8.21)
- Void: 5.42 (5.56) - 5.63 (6.12)
Astral Volume -
- VMI: 352 — 374

Higher Magical Learning Admissions Test (HMLAT) - A
Spellshaping B
Magical Theory B
Sorcerous History A
Bestiary Knowledge A
Formations and Mandalas A

Literature Admissions Test (LAT) - A+
General Literacy - A
Classical Literature - A
Sociology and Politics - A

General Knowledge Aptitude Test (GKAT) - A+
Arithmetic - A
Economics - A+
Geography - A
History - B

"A straight-A student," Morrigan reported.

Ravenport was not surprised. After six-months observing the girl weekly, he was no longer surprised by anything. At the beginning of the year, if someone told him that an imported Frontier sorceress would make more HDMs in half-a-year than his salary as the Lord Marshall for the same year, he would laugh in their faces. Now, he could only numbly accept the sad reality sold to him by the Devourer of Shenyang.

"The subject's classes commence from the 5th of October," Morrigan said.

"I know." Ravenport replaced the report on the table. He felt strangely affected by an unpleasant jumble of emotions. The last time he had held the "grade report" of a child and felt such a rush of blood while reading the results was for Charlene, his youngest. "What course is she undertaking?"

Morrigan paused before materialising a copy of her subject's application.

"… Land Economy and Management Studies? She's not going to push for Magical Engineering or Advanced Spellcraft?"

"The application says that she's hoping to do her future Tower justice, milord."

Ravenport took a deep breath.
Typical "Elite" students studied to attain the title of Magister so that they may work their way up within the Mageocracy's Tower system. Gwen Song "studied" because she couldn't erect her Tower without a Magistership under her belt.

A Magistership— one of the most lauded positions in the world, a title worshipped and adored by the multifarious multitude in their milling millions, was a mere tool the girl needed to keep a promise made with her dead Master.

The Duke of Norfolk carefully examined his turbulent feelings.

Not for the first time and not for the last time, Mycroft Ravenport wished that Edmund wasn't such a blithe, red-headed fool. If his boy had turned out anything near normal, he would have been a post-graduate scholar by now, or at the very least a Major in her Majesty's esteemed service. Maybe then, with a bit of coaxing and a dash of Morrigan's serendipity, the meeting between Gwen and Edmund would have been something worth celebrating, especially with his spell-hand casting Grease on the wheels of affection.

"Where is she now?" Ravenport asked.

"Soon not to be in Cambridge, milord," Morrigan produced another document. "She will be going away for the first two weeks."

"Truly?" The Duke of Norfolk scanned the application. "An application for leave… is she returning to Shanghai? I suppose that makes sense, considering how long she's to remain anchored in London once her classes commence in full. The Magistery Qualification Exams are not easy by far."

"The subject will route to Yangon, then to Shanghai," Morrigan replied. "Then within the week, onto Singapore with Gunther Shultz and Alesia de Botton."

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Chapter Ref ::   


Volume 1 Amazon (US) the book is in all markets as well.
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Weird schedule next 2 Chapters. 
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About the author

Wutosama

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

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