Looking for Authors for Exclusive positions! Paid. DM the Admin on Discord if you're interested. LINK
Jered fiddled with the cover of his newest tome as he stared ahead of him. His status screen was like a magical version of his identity card—and that seemed reserved only for him. God, if the information displayed was exhaustively true, then he was not 100% human. Maybe only 99%? That question mark next to his race was kinda suspicious. Well, Jerry did say he had felt a smidgen of mana inside him, way before he ingurgitated all those pills. So, what did that mean?
Either there was some sketchy stuff going on behind his heritage, or it was the system itself that tweaked his data to suit its purposes. Then again, Jerry’s words made him lean more towards the former. Was his mother hiding something? Or was it his father? Most importantly, could his father’s death be connected to it?
With a wave of his hand, his status screen faded away, leaving behind only more questions—and an excited smile on Jered’s face. Not even a few days had gone by that he already found himself swept away by the big reveal of magic, demonic entities, and now a potential conspiracy undertow. Jered flung himself back onto the mattress, tome in hand. He had thumbed through it before, and it was 100 pages worth of beautiful thickness. Easily digestible. He wanted to read it, but his other two tomes held the priority. No time to waste.
“Absorb.”[You have absorbed the tome ‘Diora’s Everyday Charms’] [Knowledge transfer: 33.3%][Knowledge transfer: 66.6%][Knowledge transfer: 99.9%]
It was surprisingly faster than his previous attempt.[You have learned the spell ‘Everyday Charms’, Lv.MAX][A detailed collection of charms for amateur casters. Their use is mainly limited to household chores as their mana consumption is negligible. You have learned the following sub-skills: ‘Low Telekinesis’, ‘Cleanse’, ‘Low Conceal’, ‘Repair’, ‘Lighter’, ‘Breeze’, ‘Shock’. This spell cannot be further upgraded.]
The tome in his hand pixelated away. Fortunately, he didn’t have to put up with a stubborn headache like the last time. The knowledge was successfully absorbed without any side effects. Jered was caught in the throes of anxious anticipation to try out his newly-acquired sub-skills. He stretched his fingers wide apart—and after shoveling some mana towards his fingertips—two arches of electricity zapped from one digit to another. Then with a snap, it morphed into a flame. No sting. No burn. Just a mild warmth that rested atop his hand.
With a dismissive flick of his wrist, his window curtains were yanked apart by an unseen force. The feeble, mournful daylight poured in. He walked up to it. A gentle tapping on the windowpane shifted his attention to the constantly worsening weather. For some uncanny reason, Rainey looked positively bothered by the storm. Should he have a reason to be concerned as well? As if on cue, his smartphone vibrated with an incoming message. Jered opened his hand, and the device flew into it by itself. “How useful…” he grinned, unlocking the screen.
It was not Rainey.
—”Jered, where are u? :/”
It was his ‘best friend’ Kenny. A timid, androgynous kid he befriended on his second year of high school. He was Jered’s second shadow. So lost was Kenny without him that it made him feel good. It was to the point that the rumors dancing around Kenny were growing some flustering credence. At least with regard to Jered; he was the only one that humored the bullied kid with his company.
—”I’m at home Ken”
—”Oh you skipped?”
—”I took notes for you btw :)”
He was unbearably adorable, always going out of his way for Jered. How could he ever shoo him away? Jered’s precious sidekick’s existence was vouchsafed with the respectable purpose of making his life easier between one class to another. Among cliques of popular kids, cigarettes, unsafe sex, and the whole high school’s drama ordeal, Ken stood anchored to him out of sheer convenience. And he allowed this anchoring because it didn’t weigh much—and especially because it was incredibly malleable.
—”Thank you Ken, appreciate it “
—”No biggie :p what u up to?”
Jered summoned a tome with his free hand, —”Just some light reading, Ken. Look, as much as I want to talk to you right now, I really need to get this stuff done. See you tomorrow? :)”
—”Oh ok. Sure, see you tomorrow”
With another flick of the wrist, the curtains slammed shut. A flimsy screen of darkness was now draped over his room—he had to set up the perfect atmosphere, after all. Jered lazily flopped back on his bed, and turned the nightstand lamp on. The mild, cozy lighting flashed gloriously upon the title ‘A Pharaoh’s Biography’ emblazoned across the tome’s cover, written in gold, cursive characters. He leafed through the first few pages in nigh a minute. And within one hour, over 50 pages were gobbled down by Jered’s focused mind.
It was during his second hour that he finally realized something. There were no spells to learn. Despite that, a more meaningful reward slowly rooted in his head, and said reward was a deeper vault of knowledge about magic and the wondrous mystical world he had yet to see.
[Your magical abilities have been enhanced by 5%]
That was the upshot of an entire morning dedicated to ‘A Pharaoh’s Biography’. He figured that by the end of the day he’d reach the halfway stamp. Of course, he could have easily absorbed it, but prior experimentation showed that reading it beforehand was bound to grant him a more generous reward afterward. Still, as much he relished in the anecdotes of the first Egyptian despot vandalizing his way across the supernatural side of the world, Jered was more hankering to unlock his second vein. He sidelined the tome, and furrowed his brow.
“Hey system, any way to unlock my second vein faster?”
As far as he knew, the safest method to unlock veins was through rigorous exercise thereof. In layman’s terms, he had to use magic until exhaustion, recover, and then do it again. Rainey called it the ‘Magical Workout’. It was very accurate. Unfortunately, it required months of effort to see success—and Jered wanted to skip that. Of course, reading tomes also provided immense insight into unlocking veins, but only a very select few of them were capable of that.[There are many ways to unlock your second vein faster, if not instantly. However, you are in no possession of such materials.]
What a letdown.
“How can I come in possession of such materials then?”[The ‘Limbo’ function, once unlocked, will provide you with all the materials you need.]
“How do I unlock the ‘Limbo’ function…”
Jered hauled out a peeved sigh, “Give me the last two quests.” he doubted the system was going to hand them out willy-nilly.[Denied. The mandatory quests are triggered by aleatory events.]
He hadn’t been expecting much anyway. No hope, no disappointment. Life in a nutshell, basically. He hid his tomes inside an inconspicuous box, and headed downstairs. Jered may have been uncharacteristically silent because Jane was not alerted of his presence. The woman was slouched on a chair, hands cupping her puckered forehead as she stared at the stack of bills on the table. The way her knee bounced up and down without rest was proof of the hurricane of thoughts she was swept by. She shook her head with a resigned sigh, the rim of her eyes reddening.
Jered had his back against a wall as the ever-so-faint sniffles wafted out of the living room. Money was what drove the world—it kept people afloat when in troubled waters. You either learn how to swim, or you get carried away by the currents, squeezed dry of oxygen. And hardly anyone will be there to extend the stick and save you. At least, no one had ever been there for the Jacobs.
The tinkling of keys snapped his head towards the door. Jasmine had great timing as always. She waltzed in with her bag barely hanging from her shoulder, and her face was a sheet of boredom that could have rivaled even his own. “Oh, Jered! You son of a gun! I’m still upset about what you did this morning!” she wrinkled her nose at him, a threatening growl bubbling in her throat.
“And what did I do?”
“You flicked my ear! It hurt!”
“And you ate all of my snickers yesterday, that hurt too.”
She gasped, “I didn’t do such a thing, it was mom!”
“Excuse you?” Jane ghosted out of the living room, making her daughter almost jump out of her skin, “What did you just say? Hmmm?”
Jasmine waved her hands around in a sweaty fluster, “Nothing mom. I was just horsing around with Jered, hehe.”
“Ooooh sure you were! Uh-huh! I could have sworn I heard you blame me for wolfing down all of those sweets.”
The way Jane forked her hips was not a good sign, and she knew it.
“Noooo waaay! Pfftt…” Jasmine’s expression molded into one of such unbridled bafflement that Jered almost believed her. “Who me?” she wagged her head, “No, nope, nay, nawh!”
Their mother huffed out a chuckle of exasperated fondness. “Oh dear, I’ll forgive you only because your birthday is coming soon.”
“Hmm-hmm. No, you’ll forgive me beca—mom? Are you okay?” Jasmine inched closer, her eyebrows almost shooting out of her hairline. “Your eyes are red…”
Jane blinked hard, her knuckles darting up to wipe away any leftover evidence. “I think…” Jered could already see the lie at the tip of her tongue. Did she prepare it beforehand or was she a natural? “I think something flew into my eyes…”
“Ohh…” his sister was smarter than he gave her credit for. She didn’t buy that lame excuse, but she had to pretend everything was alright. “Haha, do you want me to blow it away?”
“No no, don’t worry about it, sweetie. Go get changed, lunch will be ready in a trice.”
Jasmine beamed at her one last time before she disappeared up the stairs—not forgetting to flick Jered’s ear on her way up. Ah, he’d get her for that. Jane shifted her attention upon him, her smile as sweet as freshly harvested honey. “What’s wrong Jered?” she tilted her head sideways. It was just a rhetorical question. She didn’t know that he knew.
Then again, his family was made of actors. And for the sake of the act, he had to pretend as well. Thankfully, he was used to it. It was his life. “Nothing mom.” he smiled, “I just wanted to thank you…”
She seemed more amused than surprised, “For what?”
“For being the way you are… even if it hurts you.”
Her amusement tapered off into a thoughtful—albeit a bit forced—smile. Jered scrambled back up the stairs, passing by the quietly eavesdropping Jasmine. Neither of them said anything. Her head was drooped low, her foot running circles on the floor. He wondered if she felt more guilt than sadness. She had left to live a better life at Alison’s, after all. He felt slightly bad for her. Just slightly, which in itself was surprising.
A hollow chuckle curled his lips up. The household was going through a financial tribulation. And he needed to do something about that.
Synopsis: The online game <