Advertisement
Remove
Settings
A note from Wutosama

Here's the CH - you guys made some pretty good predictons regarding the big discovery. 

Next mini-arc = Gwen's loot + Hai's wedding shit show


Uncle and niece returned on foot, travelling in sullen silence, each buried in their ruminations. Gwen tried to reignite the conversation, but her uncle responded with scant and sodden interest, extinguishing any small-talk.

Sighing inwardly, Gwen excused herself, found a secluded area, let out her Familiars, then changed out of her dress. She first switched to her Flying Boots, finding the leather more suitable for trekking, then attired herself with a plain t-shirt and the skort, lamenting her missed opportunity to see a living breathing mythical dragon from yore. She had anticipated the encounter, wondered at the physicality of a being possessing every chimeric animal-part, fantasied about how inferior to Almudj the creature would be.

As she laced up her boots, she observed Jun in the distance, casually leaning against a tree, resting his eyes.

Was he thinking perhaps, of Ayxin, the Dragon-woman? A tenderness in Gwen's chest made her diaphragm cramp uncomfortably. Jealousy was a useless emotion, she knew - AND this was her uncle Jun, a man toward whom she should be infinitely grateful. Try as she might, subconscious longing and rationality rarely made bipartisan partners. If anything, her peevish pettiness surprised her. For a woman weened on the parable of the green-eyed monster that doth mock the flesh it feasts upon, she was eating it up.

Was it an Electra-complex thing? Gwen attempted some self-imposed Freudian psychoanalysis. She had paid her psychologist enough to learn a thing or two. Or maybe, she was merely a terrible sharer, a hoarder of affections, a proverbial, selfish bitch?

They had made it about half way when the two of them ran smack into an ‘ambush’ by a pack of Merfolk.

These were the classic bipedal kind, fish-faced and brightly-scaled, wielding crude spears with sharp obsidian tips that worked wonders against naked flesh and animal hide; omnivorous, vicious, and possessing of a dangerous low-cunning.

Her uncle stood back and watched his niece expend her peculiar frustration, testing her powers against regular foes who didn’t possess near-immunity to Spellcraft magic.

Having spent all of her vitality-stores, Gwen opened up with Lightning.

A single Bolt pierced three Mermen in a row: the first disintegrated, blown clear apart; the second had electricity gushing out of its eye sockets, the third fried. Behind the trio, a conifer caught fire.

“No~ my vitality!”
Surprised by the potency of her spell, Gwen switched to her Familiars.

Caliban and Ariel stalked through the forest, plucking up the escaping fish-men one by one. Compared to a week ago, barely a hint of colour touched her cheeks as her arachnid-aberration hunted down the fleeing opponents.

The ease of her hunt, both physically and psychologically, startled Gwen. After the prison and their poaching adventure, she had evidently crossed a threshold when it came to using Caliban’s most grotesque and unnatural powers.

She pursued the Merfolk for about half a kilometre, harnessing about a dozen individuals worth of life-force. After returning with a portion of her hunger sated and a spring in her step, she rejoined dear uncle Jun, and the two went on their merry way.

By evening, they arrived at the outpost.

Immediately, the two were accosted by a PLA patrol.

“Sir!” It was a man and a woman, leading a group of about ten NoMs.

Jun had approached, hands in the open and his I.D plainly visible.

“Captain Song!” The woman’s eyes burned with worshipful intensity. “Welcome back Sir! The Commander told us to look out for the two of you and to inform him immediately upon your return!”

Jun thanked the troop and commended them for their hard work.

The two Mages bristled with heart and conviction, while the NoMs gave Jun apathetic looks. The NoM conscripts were, as per doctrine, all-male; as men possessed higher combat potential, and having female NoMs about was a recipe for public outrage.

The men's eyes licked over Gwen, who paid them no mind. She was far more interested in her next meal. The crass vitality of the goblinoid merfolk was hardly sufficient after the draconic feast.

Another hour of magically-assisted trekking took the duo into the vicinity of the Anhui Military Outpost.

Having received word of their arrival, the Commander put on yet another banquet. A second officer’s dinner ensued. Again, the female Officers broke out the distilled spirits, though Gwen had wisened up to their attempts at loosening her lips.

After eating every other thing on the table that wasn't utensil or platter, the dinner ended in high spirits.

They stayed the night at the Commander’s behest, opting to leave by early morning.

Gwen informed Jun that she wanted to account for their loot, but her uncle advised patience until they could obtain privacy. Cores, particularly the fact that they possessed low to medium level cores from Draconic creatures, should be kept a secret. One core was fine; two was a surprise, three was pushing it. A dozen cores at once, all of the same type? A recipe for disaster.

The next day, after a pleasant breakfast with the Commander, the two were again on their way.

They had being absent from Shanghai a week by now, about half the anticipated time they would be away.

“It’s like I’ve got a new car,” Jun joked as he started up his Jeep, fully fuelled and polished inside and out by enthusiastic grunts.

As the two drove out from the base and hit the main road, the real world came flooding back; not just in the sense that they were on bitumen, finally seeing signs of human habitation, but that the surreal unreality of Huangshan was finally behind them.

“I am not looking forward to checking my Messages.” Jun adjusted his Message Device and changed the setting from LOS to roaming.

Oh yeah, Gwen reminded herself.
The trip was done, the voyage was over; she was back on land and all the things that she had left in stasis now becked and called for attention.

The matter of her training for the next few months.
The mind-blowing absurdity of her father's marriage.
The machinations of Magister Wen.
The displeasures of her grandfather.
The designs of her unseen enemies, such as a certain Lord Ravenport, or Spectre, or Outsiders, or Rogue Mages, or whatever they called themselves.

But there were more pleasant forecasts as well.

Dates with Mina and the girls around downtown.
A jam session with Tao just as soon as she could learn how to make music with Illusion.
Spellcraft studies with Petra.
Luncheons with babulya.
Maybe an adventure or two with Richard and his crew.
Checking up on Lulan and Kusu.
Mayuree, who was probably worried sick after a week without a peep from her 'fated' Gwen.
Calls to her friends overseas.

Aping her uncle, she likewise activated a glyph on her Message Device, a discrete bangle, switching the Divination to roaming.

Ding!
Ding!
Ding!
Ding!

Gwen cherished the din.

It was the sound of civilisation. Birdsong was nice, and pines were pretty chill, but she was a big city girl, and nothing comforted quite like the sound of a mass communiqué from friends and family. As any Instagram addict would know, there's nothing quite like a full inbox and a list of notifications that fell off the screen.

She tapped through the messages.

“Gwen, it’s Petra. How are the woods? I hope you’re keeping safe. Master has asked about you, and I told her that you’re still with your Uncle Jun. All the best with those Cores. Spirits are rare for a reason. Don’t worry; you can always save up CCs to get one. The main thing is to stay safe. It's kind of strange coming home to an empty apartment.”

Gwen played the next Message.

“Yo! Cuz, its the big T with the big P, PEACHES! Hey yo listen, er, last time you guys made a real-good impression at the show, and I was hoping that you and Pats could like, come to another show you know? This time for real there’ll be hunnies there, not just homies. By the way, Mina misses you too; she be so HIGH if you could come down to the next show!”

Gwen bit her lips amusedly then pressed the glyph for next.

“GWEN! Don’t LISTEN TO PEACHES. He’s got nothing! It’s another one of those retarded rap battles! I am not even going-”
“- HEY! Give that back to me! PEACHES, GIVE IT BACK! You're asking for it, you little ass. DAD! DAAAAD!!!”

Chuckling until her abdomen hurt, she pressed next.

“Gwen. Got a Message from London for you. Elvia called. I don’t know when you’re back, so that’s what I informed her. She said she’ll wait for you to get back. Petra.”

Next.

A familiar voice drifted out from the Messages' recorded audio.
It was Hai.

“Gwen! I have excellent news. After speaking to your new soon-to-be mother, she has decided that you should be her bridesmaid! WONDERFUL. Right? You’re a maid, I hope, and you happen to be at a perfect age! It’s a rare position! You have no idea how many beautiful girls were jostling for the hono-”

Gwen turned off the Device, her jovial mood instantly drawn and quartered.

“Uncle.” She turned to Jun, who had been listening to his very own Messages as they sped along the winding pass back to Hangzhou. “I just received a terrible piece of news from Father.”

Jun’s expression suggested he had also received 'the good news'.

“You can listen for yourself.” Her uncle pressed another glyph, and an audible Message from Guo began to play.

“Ah-Jun, where are you now? I need you to return to Hangzhou. Leave the moment you receive this Message. If your niece protests, tell her the Dragon-spawns are not going anywhere. I have just met with Sumei Liu. Your Mother and I are currently at his estate, trying to salvage what’s left of our mien. The wedding needs to proceed as soon as possible. Your brother has requested you to be his best man. This whole thing is moving faster than expected. Qīn's pregnancy will be showing soon. Your Mother is upset, to say the least. Let me stipulate, return as soon as possible-”

Then there was a brief second of silence, followed by a grudging postscript.

“- the both of you, be safe.”

“I guess we’re headed back to Hangzhou?”

“Don’t think we have a choice.”

Gwen sighed.

Jun sighed.

They sighed together.

Their synchronicity was such that they both chuckled.

“Okay, let’s make the best of it,” Jun urged his niece. “You could dress up again.”

“No, no, no!” Gwen advised her inexperienced uncle. “Father just asked me to be a bridesmaid, meaning I absolutely cannot dress up. I need to dress DOWN. Its absolute taboo for a bridesmaid to have better makeup, better hair, or a better-looking dress than the bride. I’ll be wearing flats and making my hair as flat as possible. Then I’d have to hold her dress, follow her around all day; there’s going to be a lumen-pic Illusionist following us around, recording the whole thing. There’s going to be the ceremony, the reception, the dance, the line-up and farewell, speeches - my GOD.”

“You know awfully a lot about weddings,” Jun marvelled. “I’ve been to a few, but never… well. You know.”

“Not even as a best man?”

“Not even once.”


“Wow, that’s hard to believe.” Gwen raised a sceptical eyebrow.

“The guys I graduated with, there’s not many of them left,” Jun’s tone took on a more serious edge. “As for the guys I work with, the Ghosts - let’s say we’re usually not the kind to marry, much less have a life outside of our work. One of the guys did get married while under deep cover, and let me tell you, that turned out to be one hell of a situation.”

“Oh?” Gwen rather liked her Uncle’s stories of the ‘dark side’.

“Yeah. So, as 'best man', what should I expect? From the sounds of it, it's going to be a Western-Eastern wedding. It's all the rage these days, and I suppose Hai spent most of his life overseas."

Gwen had no idea, but she could make a few educated guesses. She had been to numberless weddings in Australia. All her friends and colleagues were in their 30s, meaning the vast majority of them were married.

Chinese, Indian, Thai, Anglican, Christian, Hillsong; she had been to all sorts, taking on roles such as the MC, multiple times a bridesmaid, and once as the maid of honour. Weddings were fun, even if they are highly stressful. They were also a top joint to meet well dressed and well-mannered blokes on their best behaviour. More often than not, her purse would be bulging with cards and numbers by the night's end. One time, she even took one home; the lumberjack’s beard had made the virile young man appear much older.

“Well, as you said, it’s a Western Wedding with an Eastern reception. There’s probably going to be a ceremony first, walking the aisle and all that. I don’t know if there’s going to be a Priest or not, probably not seeing as we’re in China. This means there’s probably a Celebrant whose going to do the rites, say a few interesting aphorisms. They’ll exchange vows; then we walk out under a shower of rice and flowers.”

Jun listened, fascinated by the strange details of the matrimonial world.

“Then there’s the reception. Which I can guess, is going to be a Chinese one. This means they have to do the tea ceremony; kowtow the heavens, the earth and the parents. The Eastern ones are pretty good for bridesmaids because we don’t have to do anything other than help the bride get up and get down in her dress, pass the tea, fill the pot and all that.”

"As best man, you have to organise a buck's party, though I doubt Qīn is going to like that, knowing Dad. Not to mention this is a shotgun wedding whether we like it or not. I guess you'll need to coordinate groomsmen, assuming there's going to be..."

Gwen paused.
A disgusting and resentful reality struck her cerebrum.

"Wait a second. Why AM I a bridesmaid? Doesn't qīn have female friends? Relatives? Who is going to pair with you? WHO IS GOING TO PAIR WITH ME?"

Gwen recoiled; if she were to pair with some stranger, she would prefer been absent.

“How do you know all this?” Jun grinned at Gwen through his visors. “Feeling your age? Do you want to get married? Getting the jitters?”

The question caught her off guard.

"Me? Marriage?"

“Sure, it’s every girl’s dream, isn’t it?”

Jun's tease gave her a jocular mental prod, nudging her defensive silence.

That’s a little presumptuous, isn’t it? Was the immediate thought going through Gwen’s head.

Marriage.

She had entertained the prospect in her old life, but an opportunity had never presented itself. The concept of matrimony was both the norm and the status quo, but like her literary heroines, she had wanted to enter into sacrament for love with a friend who was also a lover. The problem was that though there was no shortage of willing men, she had never felt any of them could compete for her freedom and autonomy. The idea that she would not be her foremost priority was a hard and bitter pill to swallow. Though potential partners were willing to give in to her demands, she wouldn't wish that sort of union on anyone, much less her spouse.

Her psychologist once told her that it was her fear of trust.
Dr Monroe had then suggested that she lacked role models.

Role models? Gwen had snorted with laughter.

Certainly, her father’s apathy and her mother’s screeching bipolar psychosis did not paint a pretty picture of married life. Gwen recalled having fantasies when she had been an adolescent that her parents weren’t her own, that she was adopted, or that she was a foundling; anything to suggest that her abnormal family life was no fault of her own. Her mundane-world childhood in itself was already traumatic enough; what the Gwen of this world had to go through appalled even her jaded sensibilties.

“I don’t know…” she fell into a contemplative silence.

“Look, sorry I asked."

"It's okay..."

Jun fell silent for a moment before pipping up once again.

"Say, you ever watched a movie called Stalingrad?” Jun suggested offhandedly.

“The German WWII film?” Gwen remarked.

What a strange pivot, Gwen thought. Did her uncle realise he touched a nerve? It was like she had felt insulted. Sure, she wanted to get married one day. But it wasn’t as though she could marry anyone because her ovaries were ticking down.

“Yeah, that’s the one. The one with the tanks and the suicide platoon.”

“Sure, it’s a classic, why do you ask?”

“Well, I have no idea what a 'tank' is, and I’ve never seen a Sticky Bomb either. Can you elaborate?”

“What, a tank? You’re the military man…”

Something in her mind clicked.

A sensation of numbness manifested, first from her toes, then travelling up her calves and into her thighs. The tingling continued until it became a sliver of ice, travelling up her abdomen, chilling her spine and twisting her diaphragm until it cramped. It crawled up her neck until her scalp itself was paralysed with paranoia. Her breath caught; she couldn’t will herself to take the next breath.

Her mouth opened and closed a few times.
The emptiness within her mind could rival the Bolivian salt flats.

“… you tell me,” she finished up, ten seconds too late.

“Gwen.” Jun kept his eyes on the road, his expression unreadable behind his aviators. “Would you like to get something off your chest?”

It took her battered brain another half a minute to catch up.
What did her uncle know?
How did her uncle find out?

Then suddenly, she could breathe again.

Stirred to defensive wakefulness by her cerebral agitation, Almudj’s Essence grew alive and animated, filling her mana channels with its blessing. Unlike the previous morning when she had been upset by Ayxin, her body inhaled, then exhaled, first profoundly, then in expeditious successions. A pin-prickle from behind her neck activated simultaneously. Though she had her doubts as to the true purpose of Ayxin's scale, she allowed it to induce in her body a cadenced meditation, expanding and contracting Almudj's Essence, massaging the passage of her emerald mana until the turbulent current calmed. After a few moments, she found herself relaxed and no longer held in the grip of crisis.


With her mind returning to lucidity, Gwen took note of the paths before her.

She could confess to her uncle and hope for the best, or she could play the fool and hope for the moment to pass. In this instance, she faced two divergent paths, two trails that bent in the undergrowth, preventing her from seeing past the woods that wend.

It was times like this that Gwen wished her Divination had been the rarer kind, like what Mayuree possessed.

To tell, or not to tell; that was the question-
But she knew deep inside that truth strives for light, secrets themselves may be hidden for a day, but at length, the truth-will-out!

What she now faced was a leap of faith.
How deeply did she trust Jun?

* * *


“…”

Jun kept his eyes on the road as Gwen's leaking Dragon-fear subsided. He was beginning to regret breaking the news to his 'niece' so soon, but his thought had been suffocating with the disturbing knowledge ever since they had left the Yinglong's domain.

Maybe that was the purpose; Jun questioned the Yinglong’s gift of wisdom.

Secrets had a way of festering and fermenting. If he kept this from Gwen, it would inevitably affect his feelings for his niece. First, he would see her differently, and then, he would notice her abnormal behaviour; that strange maturity she had exhibited since they had first met in the Sky-Prison would become more prominent, more self-evident. Each time she would attempt to hide her identity, it would sour their bond, he would feel cheated, maligned, untrusted by the girl to who he had given so much of his time and effort. Then, one day, he would tire of her, perhaps even grow to loathe her.

Indeed, now that he thought about it; the Yinglong's actions felt increasingly more malicious.

The Yinglong may market itself as a Demi-God transcending mortal concerns, but in the end, it was still jealously guarding its rice bowl. The dragon wanted to retain its territory, but it was wary of the Human neighbours next door. Fifty years ago, it could have wiped out Shanghai if it had been willing to risk its life. Now, with two Towers, especially the PLA Super-Structure, the Yinglong had no chance.

Though humans only lived a short lifespan, they were ingenious.
Though Dragons were wise and ageless, they were ruthless.
Millenia-old mafiosos who ran century-long cons.

If so, why did the Yinglong choose to remain in its hole, knowing that Humanity was only biding their time? One day, Jun was sure, Humans would spread across the Northern Steppes, vanquishing the undead, conquering the oceans. Even before the Spellcraft Revolution at the turn of the 20th century, Humanity had carved out its niche in the world. Now with the human cities inter-connected by trade, Spellcraft and the Tower System, the demise of the Demi-humans was only a matter of time.

Unless of course, humanity, or at least Shanghai, were to receive a considerable setback.

That was where Gwen came in, and the Yinglong’s vapid, vague Prophesy reared its ugly head. Jun wasn’t a man to believe in fortunes telling. The CCP had long since alienated China's mystic Diviner-Clans, choosing instead to follow the global trend on Spellcraft driven Divinations.

A Divined-warning, even from the Oracle of Delphi herself, was to be taken with a grain of salt. The Yinglong had called Gwen a Calamity, but what did that even mean? A Calamity, by Jun’s standard, had to be an all-consuming disaster that enveloped all without discrimination. In the past, Calamities predicted by the Oracle had been self-evident enough: Tsunamis caused by Merfolk; Incursions of Undead; natural disasters. If Gwen were to be a ‘Calamity’, did that mean she would trigger an event of catastrophic proportions?

More importantly, what did the Yinglong intent Jun to do? What did it expect ANYONE to do?

Was his niece a Calamity?


He recalled seeing Gwen sleeping, curled on her single bed, pale against the moonlight. The girl had breathed softly at first, then nearing midnight, she bemoaned something about ‘Evees’, then snored thunderously before fitfully returning to silence.

How in Mao's name could 'that' be a Calamity?

Jun had replaced her blanket anyway, despite knowing his niece couldn’t possibly catch a cold.

The simple gesture was another paternal fantasy ticked off his bucket list.

Therefore, it had to be a ploy.

Indeed, Jun grew troubled as he drew out a hypothesis.

He could have returned to the city to inform his superiors, or his father, that Gwen was indeed a ‘Calamity’. With confirmation from the Yinglong, the PLA could make doubly sure of the city's future prosperity by keeping the girl iced via indefinite Stasis, deep within Tianlianqiao.

As for the Dragon’s motivation-

Didn’t Gwen boast that she had connections to an older, more powerful entity dwelling in a Black Zone at Australia's centre? It was entirely plausible to Jun that the Yinglong feared this ‘Almudj’.

He felt invested in the theory because it explained Ayxin’s docility and the circumstance of their unscathed exit from Huangshan. There were more unearthed secrets the Yinglong had given him as well, ones which he had to return to Hubei to rediscover via House's archives before he could even begin to believe the Dragon’s information on the origins of the Song family’s Kirin heirlooms.

Now all that remained was to see how Gwen reacted.

How much did the girl trust him?


* * *


In Gwen's mind, she had already confessed to her beloved uncle twice over.

In reality, she was opening and closing her mouth like a fish trying to breathe on land.

All in all, she felt very Prufrockian; marked by weariness, regret, embarrassment and longing; a mess of emotions.

Summoning a bout of courage from Almudj’s blessing, she tried again.

“So... the German soldiers were being punished for desertion,” she recalled expertly from the film. “They had to fight the tanks because it was both punishments, and a means to prove themselves loyal soldiers of the Reich.”

FUCK, Gwen wanted to bang her head on something. That’s not what she meant to say at all! What the hell was she doing?

“I see.” Jun’s face was unreadable.

Gwen gave her cheeks a gentle squeeze.
She was burning up.

Jun did so much for her.
He had risked his life.
He was like a father to her, not an imaginary one either.
Surely, she could tell this man the single most critical secret of her second life, right?

“I… er…”

She felt a strong desire to meditate again.
FUCK, if only Dr Monroe were here to mediate.

“I... want... to SAY... that...”

BLOODY HELL! She wondered if slapping herself across the face would help. Maybe she could stab herself in the leg with something.

“Gwen,” Jun interceded any further attempt by Gwen at painfully assaying the truth. “Just say yes, or no.”

“Okay.”

“Are you the same Gwen Song I met at the Sky-Prison?”

Gwen considered this question without a truthful answer.

“Yes.”

“Are you Hai Song’s daughter?”

“Yes.”

“Are you a doppelgänger?”

“No.”

“Are you an undead sprite, or a being who has died and come back to life?”

That was a more difficult question.

“No. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I never died as far as I know.”

“Okay, that takes a weight off my chest, haha.”

“…”

“Did you kill the old Gwen.”

“No!”

It was true, far as Gwen knew. As far as she knew, the old Gwen likely fell victim to a Void-awakening.

“Can you leave this body?”

“No.”

“Do you have a spare body or an original body somewhere?”

“No! I don't know.”

“Did you 'willingly' occupy your current body.”

“… No. Yes. I mean, I've grown into it now."

“Do you wish to destroy humanity? Do voices speak to you from the Void?”

“WHAT?! No!” Gwen protested. “I'm as human as anyone! I am… I don’t know. I don’t know anything, Uncle Jun.”

"Do you know a Yog-Sothoth?"

"No! It was a joke! I made it up! Yog-Sothoth is fiction! An excellent fiction, but PURE FICTION nonetheless!"

Jun snorted before he exploded into jovial hilarity.

Gwen listened to her uncle’s deep-throated mirth. The ridicule made her feel better; the pressure lifted from her bosoms. If Jun could laugh, then everything might be okay.

“Let me tell you what I told Ayxin.” Jun's voice came across both resonate and full of seriousness. “I told her that it doesn’t matter who you are. I told her that I did not know anything about this ‘Gwen’ that is now gone because I wouldn’t have known you existed anyway. The 'niece' I chose to help is you, and it is only you - the girl sitting right beside me now. You are GWEN, the one and only 'Gwen'. Do you understand?”

Gwen understood.
She understood every word, and the comprehension made her feel so light that she could take to the air and just drift away.

Yes, she could trust this man.
With her life story.
With her life.

“Thank you, Uncle Jun. I want to tell you my story if you're willing to listen.”

“I am listening,” Jun replied.

“Alright.” Gwen took a deep breath. “Here goes…”

 

 

 

Advertisement
A note from Wutosama

Voting for the novel :: Voting button 

Bonus ::  Gwen's Outfits ::

Title Ref :: From the Merchant of Venice 

Question:: I want to get a proper book cover done for the book, which is something I also want to use for the future, for publication. Mainly I just want the current cover - done with Matt-Painting art so I could 'own' the image + cover. 

I tried contacting https://www.deviantart.com/wlop one of my favourite artists, but no luck. 
Check out the guys worth, so good! 

Anyone in the right field to make recommendations? 

Paying commission - contract for X images, I own image (they can retain copy right too for origial) but I own sole copyright for the Cover ver. 


About the author

Wutosama

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

Achievements
Comments(199)
Log in to comment
Log In

oro @oro ago

Thanks for the chapter :)

pinzig @pinzig ago

Thank you for the chapter!

Elkon @Elkon ago

Perfect timing, finished all my old updates but don't want to start a new book :)

Arkeus @Arkeus ago

Quote:

“Yeah. So, as 'best man', what should I expect? From the sounds of it, it's going to be a Western-Eastern wedding. It's all the rage these days, and I suppose Jun spend most of his life overseas."

Hai

cookiehunter @cookiehunter ago

thanks for the chapter

This time, it was the female Officers who broke out the distilled spirits,

shouldnt it be: This time, it was the male Officers who broke out the distilled spirits, (for it to make sense?)

Iranueel @Iranueel ago

Oh man, if Jun is as intelligent as I think he is, he will pressure Gwen to give him all the details about technology and its perks. Poor demi-humans, they won't know what hit them afterwards

    Mincheriit @Mincheriit ago

    Doubt thatll work, its not like they are much behind overall, besides technical weaponry but she wouldnt know the important details for that anyway which i assume jun would know she probably wouldnt know

      Samelie @Samelie ago

      Its not like the principle of guns would be foreign to the people of this world, basicly just a small piece of metal at incredible speed, any earth or metal mage can negate that pretty easy, and she isnt in the weapons industry, so she would have no clue how to even go about making them.

      The only thing it does provide Jun with is a new take on how the world could have been, and what humanity was like. Maybe even get on board with Gwens Ideas of giving NoMs a better life.

      But even that would mean Humanity as a whole needs to prosper more.

      d0m1n1c @d0m1n1c ago

      "any earth or metal mage can negate that pretty easy"

      Which would make adoption that much easier, considering the mages don't need to be too afraid of them being turned on them.

      The key idea here is that NoMs can be made into a powerful force to be used against the demi-humans, or even as a simple police force for NoMs and weaker mages; the principle behind firearms isn't that complicated and would be easy to implement in any modern industrial/magical society.

      She's not starting from scratch, if she describes a firearm to any metallurgist or earth and fire mage, they should be able to take it from there.

    Unmaker @Unmaker ago

    That's what has bothered me in this situation - the larger threats may be resistant or practically immune to guns, but that doesn't mean the smaller threats are. The mermen go to war on each other using spears and blades, which means spears and blades work on them. But guns work a lot better. One trained NoM with a machine gun should be able to cut down a dozen small fry, leaving the mages to take on the bigger threats. The same, in variations, can be said for grenades, mines, claymores, PRGs, etc., not to mention tanks. Technology alone should be able to cut down the small fry, making NoMs much more important in battle, and leaving far more mages to deal with the larger threats.

    Basically, the introduction of guns should drastically change the face of warfare in this world. You would still need mages, but only for the more serious threats.

      Iranueel @Iranueel ago

      Therefore Gwen's knowledge could be a calamity for the demi-humans.

      Samelie @Samelie ago

      It might as well be their saving grace. Gwen seems to be more open as a person to have demi-humans coexist with humans.

      Unmaker @Unmaker ago

      I agree with your assessment of her personality, but there is a practical consideration that vastly overrides that: reproduction rates. Some of the scrub races, e.g. goblins and mermen, seem to be able to reproduce at ridiculous rates. There is no peaceful coexistence with them as long as that is the case - it's the Motie problem (Larry Niven, The Mote in God's Eye). If they gained technology, humanity would instead be doomed.

      distro @distro ago

      I vaguelly recall topic if arms mentioned already. There's something like grety arms trade in africa already going on (from humans to demi-humans). And they encourage the in-fighting between tribes to reduce their numbers and the tribes would ignore humans. Can't recall the chapter yet though.

      *edit* - found it, chapter 51:

      When Gwen commented on the possibility of NoMs using higher Magics, Tess bitterly complained that such an ill distinction between NoMs and Mages would bring great chaos. She explained that within history, several nations had already attempted arming the NoMs with empowered items against the incursion of the beast and demi-humans. The results varied greatly depending on the period and the context. The great European incursion into the heartlands of Africa known as the Black-zones, no racial insinuation intended, ended with bloody noses. The arming of slaves with the intent of clearing the Ivory Coast merely resulted in the loss of both slaves and magical items to the Loxo, the Wemics, and the Hyena Gnoll clans. Today, those races are roving up and down the coast blasting bolts of human magics from appropriated rods because, well, why not? Worse still, unsavoury grey-market traders had found great profit in selling actual items crafted for Demi-humans, becoming powerful weapon merchants who walked the path of potential treason.

      “Why weren’t those people prosecuted?” Gwen asked incredulously.

      “It’s one of the Tower’s key ‘grey’ policies, or so Surya says.” Tess shrugged apathetically. “We supply the weapons for the intelligent monsters to war on each other so they're too busy to deal with the dozen or so Human cities on the coast.”

      oisnot @oisnot ago

      Yeah. Weapons which can be used without human knowledge and magic would be the doom of humanity.

      Fighter planes which requires complex manufacturing knowhow and years of training as pilot would be a huge boon to humanity.

      Firearm/machineguns easy to produce and any moron can pick up and slaughter with, in the hands of millions of demi-humans, would be the end of human domination of earth.

      Andur @Andur ago

      Why? The argument is contradicting itself. Xenos have a higher reproduction rate than humans, and each of them is stronger than a NoM.

      NoMs are currently contribunting next to nothing to humanity's defence.

      So, if anything, guns would tilt the power distribution in favour of the humans, who already have a concept of industry.

      Aside from that, even simple AK47s need a whole industry and precise machining and tools if you want to equip a whole army. Add to that the ammunition production.

      distro @distro ago

      Ammo and logistics related to that can be somewhat eased up with storage rings. However as compared with spell rods (which only need mana/crystals) - this is much more cumbersome/inconvenient.

      Also it would empower NoMs (allow them to assinate mages?) - so not surprisingly mages wouldn't be too happy about disruption in status quo.

      Andur @Andur ago

      How do storage rings help with ammo-production?

      The point I would contest is that Demi-Humans would be able to copy *simple* firearms, which would empower them more than the humans.

      The point is that effective firearms would need a whole industry to equip an army. That can't be simply copied. Even if the Demis understand the new weaponry, the humans would be forever ahead in the arms race.

      Samelie @Samelie ago

      You would need to take the recources used into consideration too, i geuss the metal or wood isnt the prime problme, but things like gun powder probably use incredeants that are either not existant in this world, or used by mages for other things already, or they are not able to produce enough of it since they lack the terretory to get to them.

      Unmaker @Unmaker ago

      @oisnot

      The 'fact' that guns and ammo are easy to produce is a persistent myth. They are not, especially not machine guns. Neither are modern explosives. The aquatic tribes especially would find it almost impossible to develop the industrial base necessary to even start. Since humans already have the industrial base, they would initially be a great advantage. That advantage would dwindle if some nonhumans developed similar manufacturing skills, but at least initially humanity could make great strides in military power.

      The real concern would be a human faction such as Elizabeth's faction, who are known to use nonhuman tribes as fodder, providing large numbers of guns to nonhumans.

      Senjuro @Senjuro ago

      A genetically enhanced NoM purges a foul invader from the Abyss in the name of the God-Empress (Circa 2104)

      Reference: Chapter 2190

      Andur @Andur ago

      LoooL, just the idea that Gwen could pull off a God Emperor from warhammer...

      Senjuro @Senjuro ago

      Don't let [our] dreams be dreams.

      Soulwager @Soulwager ago

      Machine guns aren't any harder than a semi-automatic. Not as easy as a matchlock, but you don't get the capability to mass produce modern ammunition without developing the mechanical knowledge necessary to create a fully automatic weapon.

      Samelie @Samelie ago

      And the Chemical knowledge to create the amunition part of it. Which, if you consider alchemy exists, might be not viable if the same materials are already used.

      mad-ness @mad-ness ago

      It isn't just that widespread firearms manufacturing requires advanced technical abilities that people like to forget - it is the secondary benefit of that advanced technical and manufacturing ability that often times gets forgotten. That level of technical and manufacturing ability strongly correlates with a certain, higher, level of civilization. The same applies to most other aspects of modern warfare.

      The ability to wage modern warfare makes any culture more dangerous but it also makes it more prepared for modern civilization as a whole as a result of the underlying economic, technological and social requirements involved in fielding a modern military force. This makes things like arranged treaties, defined borders and interdependent trade also more likely.

      distro @distro ago

      I was talking about logistics. if we are talking rifles, we may as well talk about artilery. logistics as in earth does not exist at all.

      while there are obvious benefits to the warm arms, the mages are ruling class and since there's potential to use them against mages as means of assassination, they would never allow it. why replace perfectly good spell wands?

      the arms would require maybe less investment than earth, but still significant amount. nom riots would be pre-emptively nuked after first mage casualties. noms were abused for too long by mages for them not to raise guns against mages.

      distro @distro ago

      if there would be no segregation between noms and mages.

      the problem is that mages gain very little, Noms too much. the economies need to be united as per gwen's papers she wrote for university. there's not much interest in stuff like physics, chemistry. and we didn't see any nom universities.

      Wutosama
      Premium
      Author

      Wutosama @Wutosama ago

      That is a very cool picture.

    Walty @Walty ago

    The best tech that she could give is probably cargo planes and cheaper communication. If it takes days to get from Australia to china by boats, imagine planes doing that in few hours. At the beginning, simple propeller plane would be enough. Cargo planes would easily work using the storage rings (Gallifray forever). They have at the moment quite cheap short-range communication, however long range is expensive as hell. Building infrastructure for intercontinental communication would be probably impossible by cables (there be monsters), so making it possible would probably need some magitech hybrid or satellites, but they don’t show any interest in space at the moment.

      distro @distro ago

      Yes, as Drysh already said, the problem is that there's no theoretical background for inventions like this. While the industry is there, it's tuned to mageocracy.

      Sattelites/mobile phones would require extensive knowledge in elecromagnetism just for radio waves. And the phones themselves. Under the hood are massive technological pillars which don't exists there (like whole semi-conductor industry missing).

      Aeroplanes - aerodynamics. Metallurgy (chemistry), aerodynamics part of physics. There might be some random blocks required, but the whole foundation upon the stuff is build is non-existant.

      We've seen no higher Mom education so far. The research, education, industry - everything is based on mageocracy needs. And noms are usually cannonspell fodder and nice trading revenue for shady forces (they seem to isolate/ trade the newly awakened noms without support to the demi-humans very easily. noms - it's jus farm / growing harvest) in most cases.

    Drysh @Drysh ago

    A thing I dislike about stories with people from different worlds is how easy it is to develop earth-like tech in these stories. Have you ever tried to build a gun without Google, Wikipedia or any book on the subject? Most people don't know how a toaster works. The general principles you learned at school aren't even close to the technical knowledge you need to build something.

    In Gwen's world (the new one) they don't have the same tech as we do. Not only they don't have guns, they don't have our usual physics. Newton there was probably a mage who wrote about the conservation of mana, not momentum. We don't even know if the principles of physics are the same there.

    She may contribute with ideas on how to make things, but it stops there. She wont cause a revolution on how they make war, because she wasn't an expert on the subject and the incomplete and erroneous knowledge a regular person has doesn't help much. The exception, of course, are the subjects she is an expert. Apparently she knows a lot about business management (well, management in general), sociology/political science and literature/public speachs. I hope Wotusama keeps it that way and let her revolutionize these fields, but only have a minor impact on other techs.

      Wutosama
      Premium
      Author

      Wutosama @Wutosama ago

      I don't want to comment too much on the subject, but the 'common sense' appraoch of your 'first world highschool + Bachelor of Commerce / Arts" will be my compass in this matter, haha.

      Not to say we won't be having lots of fun with the ideas in the story though

      Andur @Andur ago

      Don't take me wrong, but keeping Gwen forever as a of master, quote: "sociology/political science and literature/public speachs" would be a big loophole in the story.

      She may have been that in the past, but she has shown that she knows enough of the scientific basics. And now she is studying magic and Metaworld's science on teleportation *literally* all day long.

      Combined with her knowledge of our world, something must come of that.

      Unmaker @Unmaker ago

      Some agreement, some disagreement:

      Agree: Unless someone is already as intelligent and naturally talented as, for example, DaVinci, or they already have the technical training, e.g., they are already a gunsmith + metal worker, they will not be personally creating whole new tech fields in the new world. And some technology like computers took so much development capital that they would be extremely hard to get started even if you had much of the technical knowledge.

      Partially disagree: However, knowing that something is possible is a big part of the battle. Knowing what ideas will work really well is another part. And there is such a thing as low-hanging fruit, ideas that are so easy that they can be developed easily. Imagine what would happen if Gwen took over an area and started research groups. Unless the intelligence distribution is different between NoMs and mages, just based on demographics, for every smart mage there are many smart NoMs. So a mage-ruler who could direct significant capital and smart people into research could get some serious benefits. My favorite potential low-hanging fruit is nature-based antibiotics like penicillin. All you have to know to open the door is that some molds produce stuff that kill bacteria and if you can purify it a bit people can use it. They could relieve the burden on healing mages quite a bit and there is still Cure Disease to fall back on when antibiotics fail. If petroleum exists in similar amounts and isn't already used, it is a massive untapped resource that also doesn't take a huge amount of prior knowledge to start with (takes physical resources, but a mage-manager could wrangle those).

      Disagree: Why does everyone assume conventional physics doesn’t work in such worlds? Even small changes in physics would make human life impossible, change the entire physical setting for the story, and throw the entire universe into a completely different type of life development cycle. So either the world system runs on physics with magic as an add-on ability, or there is a super-physics capable of emulating conventional physics plus magic together. Either way, you get the ability to use conventional physics. And yes, the most likely explanation is the author wanted to write about humans and didn’t think about what that meant for the cosmology and universal development, but if you assume an internally-consistent world, you can also assume conventional physics will mostly work.

      Samelie @Samelie ago

      The fact that gunpowder could not work because of the ambient magical energy would make weapons from our world useless, so knowing what changed, since with magic there are bound to be changes, is important. Another thing is, why would Gwen bother doing all that? She probably will just make a company and hire people wheter they are NoMs or Mages to do stuff.

      Something_witty @Something_witty ago

      @Drysh agree; I find all these comments a bit amusing. I think people are used to stories where knowledge directly translates into a cheat, and have forgotten how ridiculous this is in reality. That, or I missed the memo with the weapon blueprints and perfect memory that everyone seems to have.

      So there is no need to get upset because your favourite plot gimmick didn't appear in a story that has given no indication of going that route. Just read 'release that witch' when you need a dose of an omnisapient MC.

      Soulwager @Soulwager ago

      And some technology like computers took so much development capital that they would be extremely hard to get started even if you had much of the technical knowledge.

      To be fair, she already has the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars worth of assets. She can afford to hire a pretty big NoM research staff, plus a couple general purpose mages to help "cheat". She also knows Silicon is the basis of modern electronics. That alone lowers the magnitude of the research problem by a thousand times or so. It's a lot easier to find something when you know what you're looking for and where to find it.

      The problem is that most of the initial high margin market for new technology(governments) already have magical replacements for most critical electronics. As for NoMs, they're your biggest market, but they're also economically unnecessary to the mages. I think THAT is the problem that needs to be fixed first. So we need to find a technology that the mages don't have an equivalent for, which is valuable enough to make NoMs more than just a charity case.

      Iranueel @Iranueel ago

      I didn't think I could start such a big fuss with such a small comment, but genetics would surely benefit the whole human world.

      Andur @Andur ago

      Yeah, it's funny. That's it. Unfortunately, the guy did this as a joke, without any seriousness behind it.

      If not, he only proved himself to be one of the cases who can't apply knowledge, even if they have all the books they need.

Odack @Odack ago

Thanks for Chapter