Chapter 17: Success

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The crimson pearl was nonchalantly flicked up in the air—where it did a beautiful spin—before a very cocky Jered caught it in a fist as he strutted out of the asylum. “Well well…” he announced with open arms, “Guess who just completed his job awesomely?” a crack of thunder rolled out across the raging clouds, as if the sky itself were acclaiming his success.

Rainey draped one knee over the other, her eyes glowing with twinges of mana as she peered straight through the pearl. No need to confirm it up close. She could see the trapped, resentful wraith inside. “I’m pleasantly surprised, Jered. Congratulations, really. It must have been difficult…”

He waved a hand dismissively, “Nah, it was easy.”

“Sure it was…” she smirked, “Do you think I couldn’t see what was going on inside?”

“Oh… well, it was not that hard. Aside from some technical difficulties along the way, there was no doubt that I had it in the bag from the get-go.” Jered handed the pearl to her, “So… I passed, right?”

Rainey nestled the pearl between her fingers, her lips easing down into a genuine smile. “Yes,” she huffed out a chuckle, “You did. Welcome to Akashka. Aaand… color me impressed, Mana Beam is not a spell you can learn in such a short time.” then, a theatrical snap of her fingers later, and a fancy black ring with a thorny, withered red rose as the head gem embedded in the middle materialized above her palm in a swirl of mist. She threw it to him.

He caught it, allowed himself a few moments to admire it from different angles, and slid it on his middle finger.

[You have joined the arcane organization ‘Akashka Society’][Your affiliation status has been added.]

“Is this made of mana? It won’t suddenly disappear once I’m back home, huh?”

“No no, I didn’t conjure it out of nowhere. This one was magically enhanced by Jerry.” she shrugged, “He’s good at tinkering with stuff.”

“Well, he is quite proficient at tinkering with your patients too.”

A wide, playful grin distorted her features. She faced him with an upturn of her eyes, “Nothing wrong with some consensual tinkering.”

“Yes ma’am,” he grinned back, “Let’s hope it was not unprotected tinkering.”

“I’m most certain Jerry magically enhanced his tool before he started hammering away.”

They both shared a good laugh at Gravewall’s psychiatrist’s expense.


Jered didn’t mind the music. He was in a good mood. Hell, he even joined Rainey’s in her crazy head bobbing. That was how much of a good mood he was in. His heart still remembered that sudden adrenaline rush. So sweet and intoxicating—the treacherous embrace of danger. It lingered there, throbbing for more. He rubbed his neck. It was right where the entity’s hand had made itself at home. Hah, it still felt cold.

“You look like you had the time of your life in there,” Rainey commented with an amused raise of her eyebrow. “Well, I would have bailed you out of there as soon as your life was at risk… soo…”

He snapped his head towards her, “I legit thought I was on my own there. Would have you really saved me?”

“You silly pie! Of course I would have.” his superstitious stare didn’t lessen, “I swear! I even told you before, there is no way I’d have you die for nothing. I only foresaw you getting a bit roughed up. That’s all. Why would I let someone as talented as you die? No way! The test was just to make sure you had the right mentality to make the best use of said talents.”

“I know. I’m not complaining…”

She puckered her lips up, “Do you want me to buy you ice cream?”

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“No…”

“Do you want to go to a movie? You still have time before you have to be back home, don’t you? Your mom doesn’t know you skipped school.”

He rolled his eyes, “I’m sure that she has been notified of my absence by now. Take me home, I want to keep reading…”

“Aww…”

Eventually, Rainey pulled on the handbrake a few streets away from Jered’s house. He looked at her. She looked back at him. A brief silence ensued, until he decided to break the ice. “Are you going to make Arya sign the demonic contract right now?”

She hummed, “That’s the plan. Why? You wanna watch?”

“Can I?” if he had a tail, he’d be wagging it.

“No.”

“Really? Why not?”

“It’s less interesting than you think it is. Trust me. There’ll be some screaming involved, some strobe light effect with magic, some more screaming…” she listed off, “… honestly, you’d be better off spending your time reading than watching someone suffer before having a new evil entity shoved inside them.”

“Which can be translated as: ‘I don’t want you there so shut the f*** up’.” he unbuckled his seatbelt, “I get it, I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.”

Rainey sighed dreamily, “This is exactly why we get along so well.” she twiddled with a chock of her hair, “Oh, wait. Here, this is for you…” she rummaged inside the glove compartment before drawing out a dusty, worn-out tome. It was considerably less thin than the ones he had already been given, which made its sight even more welcome.

Jered grabbed the proffered tome, blowing away the dust on its surface.

[Do you want to absorb the contents of this tome? Y/N]

He smiled.

“Don’t smile like that, it’s nothing advanced or flashy. It’s just a miscellaneous collection of everyday charms.” and then she had to pour cold water over him like that. What a bummer. “Ohh, but it will 100% make your life easier. Trust me.”

Well, that kinda made him feel better. Just a bit. Well, anything magic-related was ought to.

“I begrudgingly accept your gift.”

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She nodded, “Off you go then. I’ll be sending you tomes from time to time, so please, do your best to go through them all.”

“You have my word, Rainey.” he tapped the tome’s cover a few times for emphasis, “These bad boys won’t survive a week with me.”


Jane was an impatient mess. She reminded herself that she had to be lenient, however. That was the way to go about it. She was not a good mother, but she was an understanding one. That’s why she wanted to understand why Jered skipped school. It was not a consequential matter. Actually, had he asked her, she would have allowed him to stay at home. She could have used the company. The problem stemmed from his lies. And his unknown whereabouts, of course.

Ah, f***. She was already imagining the worst outcome. Jane chewed the inside of her cheek, her eyes firmly fixed on her smartphone. She was tempted to send Jered another long string of messages, but she doubted the chances of an answer making it back to her. How frustrating.

Then the clicking of keys turning inside their latch sounded out. And oh boy did they sound out. Jane sprung up to her feet, making fast and determined strides towards the main hall. The door creaked open, and Jered was not allowed the time to even take a single step forward that he was confronted by the questioning stare of his mother. Her lips parted, but he raised a hand, promptly stopping her.

“There are no excuses.” he started morosely, “You’re a very considerate mother, I know. If I wanted to stay at home I should have just asked you. I… I don’t know what to say… it’s my fault, sorry. I hope you don’t think any less of yourself because of me.”

“I—” she reluctantly shook her head, a chuckle bubbling up to the surface. “No sweetie. It’s fine. You get good grades and your teachers have nothing but praise for you. It’s no biggie skipping a day or two as long as you don’t make it a habit.”

His face lit up in a beautiful smile, “Thank you for being so understanding.” and then he looped his arms around her. She returned the hug with fervent enthusiasm, her hold on him strengthening for a good while before she pulled back, keeping him at arm’s length. “You’re the best mom.”

This time a giggle made it past her lips. “You’re just like your father…”

Jered grinned, “Sometimes I am, some other times I’m just like you…”

She pressed her lips together, a sigh at the corner of her next words. “Your father was a great man, Jered. Never let anyone tell you otherwise,” her tone bespoke of memories; memories only she could see through him. It was soft and on the verge of breaking, “But he was too ambition-driven. Don’t be like that, honey. Being ambitious is good, but then, when you look back and realize the relationships you could have formed, all of the little moments you missed because you were pursuing power and money, all of the outings with your friends that you canceled in favor of your work. What do you have to show for it in the end? An unnecessarily huge load of money, and not many years left to enjoy it.”

“…”

“Your father wanted too much. Ah, he was a good man, yes. Smart, caring, charming…” her smile faltered, “… but his mind was always elsewhere.” she cradled Jered’s face in her hands. “When you grow up, I want you to become a good husband and an exemplary father. No, sorry, I know that you will be. You’re my son, after all.”

Her speech was so well-delivered that he wondered whether it was rehearsed or not. And if God had given him a wider range of emotions, he would have felt something.

“Yes, mom.” he smiled brightly, enveloping the now tearing woman in another hug.

But he didn’t feel anything.

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Title: World of Expertsd | Tags: Cultivation, Second Chance
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