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The fire crackled in the fireplace, acting as both a source of heat and light for the family of seven huddled around it. Winter nights were both cold and long, and with no work in the fields to be done until spring, every unit of heat was guiltily appreciated. Sat around the fire clockwise were Grandma and Grandpa, hands wizened with age, and then Ma, Pops, eldest son Byren, middle child Irene, and finally the youngest, Ian. Grandpa’s voice could be heard, rising above the smoke.

“And then the dragon Izael unleashed a plume of dragon fire so wide that it could have engulfed our whole village.  Izael’s fire burned as brightly as fire, but as cold as ice, turning the land into a frozen wasteland. But the hero -”

“How can fire be cold?” A voice curiously interjected.

“Because Izael’s class was Ice Dragon, young one”, Grandpa explained. “Now as I was saying, the hero -”

“But I thought you said that only humans could have classes? Because Lenessa gave them to us to fight the evil monsters, and to let humans fly, and use magic, and -”

Ian’s voice was cut abrupt by Byren’s hand covering his younger brother’s mouth, probably fed up with his interruptions. Ian’s indignant protests were ignored by the rest of the family.

Grandpa smiled. “Now as I was saying, the hero Ezra survived Izael’s breath simply by the magic of his swords alone. As a magic swordsman, Ezra had the ability to not only pierce the greatest of foes, but to use magic none weaker than that of any mage. Taking advantage of Izael’s gap between attacks, Ezra called upon all of his powers and used his strongest technique, whose name has been lost to time, and slew Izael in one breath. Izael’s body collapsed, but his energy escaped and dispersed in a large area around him. That’s why the winters of Briodelar are so cold, even to this day.”

“Grandpa, I thought that Briodelar had cold winters because of the lowered air pressure due to the sea in the south, and the northern drafts that therefore come in from the northern mountains create zones with high concentrations of ice mana?”

Grandma saw this as a good opportunity to put in her two cents. “Irene, learn to take a damn story.  This is why nobody will want to marry you, not unless they want their left ear nagged off.”

Irene simply harrumphed and looked away. Someday there would be somebody outside this family of hicks that would appreciate her intelligence.

“Grandpa, I want to be like Ezra when I grow up! I’ll learn magic, slay monsters to protect the kingdom, get us a bigger house to live in in the city, and marry a princess!” Ian had somehow escaped from Byren’s grasp. “Just wait until I turn eighteen! I’ll get the best class; maybe Magic Swordsman, just like Ezra, or Great Sage, like that Archmage Sartonius you talked about two days ago!”

At Ian’s words, the rest of his family seemed to flinch in unison, and the festive mood slightly dimmed. Nobody knew how to, or wanted to be the one to, break the truth of the world to Ian.

 

The reality that the elders of the family knew all too well was that while the minstrels sang songs of those of common birth, those who received miraculous classes and accomplished great feats, one’s chances of receiving higher tier classes were greatly influenced by one’s heritage. Merchant children grew up to receive Merchant or Salesman classes, those born from Mage families obtained classes like Summoner and Elementalist, and Nobles almost always received the best classes due to their carefully selected breeding. Ian’s family was no exception; their family line of farmers could be traced as far back as any of them could remember. Sure, there were a few special cases, such as Ian’s Great Great Uncle who had a tier two agriculturist class, but nothing that defied the norm. Unless a Lenessa-sent miracle occurred, Ian would obtain a tier one class just like his father: farmer.

Thinking deeply, Ian’s mother thought of saying something, ripping the bandage off quickly to lessen the pain. Someday, Ian would have to accept the truth of reality, no matter how harsh it was, and try to live the life he was given as best as he could. But looking at Ian enthusiastically swinging an imaginary sword, making strange noises that seemed to represent magic, she didn’t have the heart to destroy his dream. Not today, she told herself, and anyways, Ian will probably learn the truth by himself as he grows up, right?

Right?

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