Vile Evil Hides Under The Veil

Jake Sullivan

Jake Sullivan

0Ten days before heading out for the Academy!     

Eren was seen seated in his room. He was holding the smallest, F Rank Mana Blessing from his collection in his hand while meditating.     

Eren wanted to use a bigger, and better one. But the area of influence the bigger Mana Blessing would have was enough for aunt Nina to figure out its presence.     

Eren concentrated and tried to take the mana inside his body through the region below his navel. The eventual outcome was realized finally.     

Eren felt like a black hole had been created inside his body. All the surrounding F Rank mana that was condensed in the surrounding by the Mana Blessing was getting absorbed by that blackhole genesis.     

A point of mass was created after the attraction force ended. It felt surreal and real at the same time.     

Eren had an inactive F Rank mana core now in his body. It only needed primary mana pathways for him to officially enter his F Rank journey.     

But Eren felt something was different about this time's F Rank's core creation. The force of attraction was stronger than he remembered.     

Eren could see an intricate pattern that was getting faint when he checked his navel. The pattern had disappeared after a couple more breaths.     

Eren could swear that he had seen that pattern somewhere. It took him a while to recollect that the necklace's gem that he had gulped down had the same pattern carved atop it.     

Eren had not forgotten about the biggest miracle of his life. He had a couple of sleepless nights thinking about it, along with his past mistakes and regrets.     

It was just that he couldn't do anything to solve the mystery around it. And he couldn't ask anyone either. So he had to let it go. Maybe the mystery would reveal itself when he was strong enough.     

Eren tried to make that pattern resurface again using his thoughts. But he wasn't successful. He had to give up on his efforts after a couple more tries.     

Eren wasn't disappointed. He wasn't in a hurry to know about the timeless treasure he was carrying within him. If it wanted to interact with him, it would, at the right time. Or when he was strong enough to make it reveal itself. No use banging his head against the obstacle now.     

Eren decided to freshen up. His body was sticky due to the F Rank core formation. When a ranked entity breaks through its existing rank and enters a new one, its body goes through a purification process. The body expels impurities hiding deep within it and invigorates itself.     

The body's natural clock resets. Halting or reversing the ageing process. That's why high ranked entities leave for longer and look youthful even when they turn hundreds of years old.     

The core formation was the most important part about one starting their ranking journey. The mana pathways would form eventually even when one doesn't take additional efforts to do so.     

Eren will again experience another body cleansing when his mana pathways form and the F Rank mana circulates through his body for the first time. F Rank was special that way. It had two body cleansing events.     

Eren bathed thoroughly and took his time getting freshen up. He knew it wouldn't be long before the mana pathways formed. He just needed to expedite it before he leaves for the academy.     

Eren needed to visit the Osan woods. Reen was basically the boss of that forest. He wouldn't have to face any risk. And Reen knew about the location of a few precious herbs which would help him open his mana pathways faster while going easy on his body.     

But how could he convince Nina? She wouldn't let him go on his own in the woods. Plus she would get suspicious about his motives.     

Eren was already walking on the tight edge keeping Reen in his room. Reen had gotten better at controlling her demon beast aura. She was almost impossible to detect for the entities who had the same rank as her or below.     

But that didn't mean Eren raised the difficulty by himself. Reen was more useful when her existence and her abilities were only known to him.     

Your opponent would play their hand safely when they knew about the cards you've been dealt with.     

Therefore, Eren was always careful about dealing with stuff that was related to Reen. He didn't want to raise aunt Nina's awareness unnecessarily for the same reason.     

Eren had a plan that he could use to cover and make use of Reen's abilities almost openly without her getting detected. Provided it gets executed flawlessly when he enters the academy.     

But that was for the future. Till then, only Eren and Reen were witnesses of her existence.     

Coming back to the present.     

Eren needed to get his hands on those herbs by visiting the woods. And he needed a valid reason for his absence.     

Enter Jake Sullivan.     

Jake was the son of a businessman in the city of Osan. His father Jack Sullivan dealt in the import and export of goods.     

The business would provide raw ingredients to Nina at a discounted rate than usual. In return, she would sell him potions in bulk only for him to resell them at higher rates at the right market outside the city.     

Therefore the businessman father had very cordial acquaintances with every healer in the city, including Nina.     

Jake Sullivan was a carbon copy of his father in many ways. He was cunning and cordial at the same time. He always talked sweetly. And he was ready to make friends with everybody.     

Eren had seen an opportunity in Jake when he had come to the apothecary with his father. His excuse to get out of aunt Nina's supervision and visit the woods unsupervised.     

Things became even easier for Eren to make an acquaintance with Jake after he knew that he was also going to enter the LA academy with him.     

Jack Sullivan had paid a hefty donation to the city of Osan's administration to reserve a spot from the limited seats in the academy for his son.     

The city of Osan could send up to five kids every year under the reserved quota. Everyone other than the reserved seat kids would have to pass an entrance exam. Which was as difficult as it was unpredictable.     

Therefore the reserved seats would always be preferred by the well-to-do people who wanted to send their kids to receive the best education the kingdom had to offer.     

Even aunt Nina was no different. She had enrolled Eren into the reserved seat quota. It was just that she didn't have to pay. Her influence on the city's administration was strong enough to avail a reserved seat.     

Therefore, Eren and Jake didn't need to give any exams before entering the academy. They will be fellow students in the next few days.     

Eren was a shut-in in his previous life. He didn't interact with people apart from a select few of them in the academy. So he didn't know about Jack or the fact that he came from the same city as him. But that didn't matter to his current plans.     

Jake immediately extended his hand of friendship to Eren and the latter accepted as quickly for reasons known to him.     

Today Eren was going to use his new and only connection so far to get out of his current predicament.     

Eren stepped downstairs. Had his breakfast. And told aunt Nina that he would be meeting with Jack and discuss academic studies with him. He also told her that he might stay over as his place.     

Nina wanted to ask some more but Eren had already run out of the house by then. She never knew a recluse like Eren would find a friend in Jack this easily.     

Nina was glad that Eren was finally making connections and didn't want to stop the progress. So she let the matter go.     

Eren headed to a now-familiar alleyway that he had been using to disappear into the dark. When he appeared from the other end, everything about him had changed.     

Eren had bought Hunters' clothes for himself when the city markets started functioning. It was to blend in with the Hunters' populace.     

Eren had also got two masks now. He was wearing one of them that only left his eyes and forehead unmasked.     

An unknown lady in her late 30s could be seen with him. She looked menacing with her odd, deformed smile. She had also worn the Hunters' clothes.     

"Reen, stop smiling. It doesn't look good on you yet. You might scare the rental agency guy."     

Eren scoffed at Reen who then followed his orders and stopped her facial exercise. She asked her master as they were headed to the southern city gates:     

"Eren. What should I say to that rental agency 'food'?"     

Reen spoke in the lady's voice she had eaten before. It was just some random woman who the duo had preyed on. To satiate Reen's hunger that is.     

Reen's oratory skills and her bipedal walk had taken huge leaps forward. She almost sounded normal. There was a slight oddity in the way she controlled her voice but that wasn't a deal-breaker.     

Reen's walk and her run were the ones she had improved most on. She walked and ran like humans. She could go faster than Eren now if she wanted to.     

"Just rent two nice colts for both of us. Use the money I've given you and the ID stone of the lady you have shapeshifted into.     

Of course, the ID stone and your mana signature won't match. Just tell him your ID stone has some problem and you intend to change it after this trip. Give him five EDs (Edenberg Dollars) as a bribe while saying it."     

"Alright. I... I can't eat it afterwards, right?"     

"Call him 'him' and not 'it' when you talk, will you? No, you can't eat him. You'll have plenty of mana beasts to feed on in the woods."     

Eren and Reen talked like usual and reached the rental agency's office.     


Author's Note: Some readers might be wondering why I introduced a few concepts of cultivation in the magical realism world, based on the LitRPG style ranking system. Will it be still a non-cultivation novel if we find these concepts getting included in the ranking-based story-verse?     

I can only tell you why I chose to go this way instead of keeping things straightforward. I think the progression from Rank F to Rank E would have been easier to show if VEH was a system novel.     

The system serves as the reason behind any MC's power level. Therefore, it doesn't need anything else. System novels rule the Webnovel's domain for this very reason. I also like some aptly written system novels.     

Quick progression with zero boring details and almost no plot holes (if the author plates their cards right). What's not to like in a system-based piece?     

But for better or worse, VEH is not a system novel. I remember a reader asking this question in the comments section in earlier chapters. I will answer that query now. VEH is not a system novel. I'm sorry for keeping you on hold. Hope you forgive me. ;)     

We can always go the easy route and say there's an E Rank right after the character levels up from the F Rank. and it would be assumed by most as an eventual progression. But that's just it. We have to "assume" this thing. There's no substantial explanation that can be found in a rank up after we do that.     

I don't want VEH to go that way, establishing the power structures on assumptions. I want it to have a standardized power structure that has set rules. It would help in keeping the storyline clean with minimal plot holes. It would also serve as a valid reason behind MC's upcoming actions.     

And most of all, VEH will be easily understood by even the newest of readers on the Webnovel even if they haven't read system based or cultivation based works before.     

VEH will still keep the simplicity of the ranking system intact while allowing for valid reasoning behind a character's rank up. It will merge the straightforwardness of the RPG system with some of the logical concepts behind cultivation. Of course, VEH will never have Dao, Laws, and all those elusive concepts in its storyline.     

Lastly, sorry for attaching this extended author's note. I'll take my leave now. Happy reading! ;)     

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