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A note from Quigels

Warning: ant and beetle death ahead

You have unlocked the Class: [Dishwasher]

I stared blankly at the innocuous panel in front of me, hands frozen in warm soapy water as I stopped rubbing the sponge against the plate.

“Hey Aron” I turned to look at him as he walked in and dumped more dirty dishes into the sink next to mine. The panel followed my vision.

“Yeah” he hummed as he added lathered up his sponge with soap and started cleaning a cup.

“I unlocked the [Dishwasher] class,” I said nervously, did this mean I would be dishwasher forever now?

He stared at me in shock and stopped what he was doing “Is this really the first time you’ve washed up dishes?”

No, I lived alone and didn’t own a dishwasher so this was definitely far form the first time I’d ever done the dishes.

“I don’t know, I don’t remember” I said, glad that I had that excuse.

“Huh, maybe you’re like nobility or something and you had servants who did that, I mean some classes are a lot harder to unlock than others, but you only need to spend a few hours washing dishes to unlock [Dishwasher]” he leaned forward with a mock bow “hello milady, good day-“

I splashed water at him “Idiot I’m not nobility"

He laughed and leaned back wiping the water from his face which his elbow “You never know, could be” he grinned though he clearly didn’t believe I was nobility either.

I rolled my eyes and turned back to the dishes. The panel had disappeared after I stopped paying attention to it.

“So what other classes do you have unlocked?” he asked going back to scrubbing his dishes.

I paused “What do you mean?”

He looked at me confused “What do you mean? Like on your status, what classes have you unlocked?”

I hesitated, when I’d used the scribe stone, it had said basic status and that I didn’t have a class, but the way Aron said it made it sound like he was talking about something else.

“My status?” I asked and almost jumped when a new panel appeared in front of me.

Name: Sasha Lanncaster Species: Drake
Gender: Female Age: 9
Class 1: [None] Class 1 Skill points: 0
Class 2: [None] Class 2 Skill points: 0
       
Health: 100% (0.05%/hr) Inventory (max=6Kg) Contacts
Stamina: 85% (0.2%/min) Available Classes Messages (0)
Mana: 100% (0.5%/min)    
       
  Base Stats: Augmented Stats: Bonus Stats:
Vitality: 8 8 +/-0
Agility: 9 9 +/-0
Strength: 6 6 +/-0
Scales: 5 5 +/-0
Perception: 9 9 +/-0
Efficiency: 8 8 +/-0
Wisdom: 6 6 +/-0
       
Available stat %: 0    

I just stared at it, not really comprehending what I was seeing, this was very different from the basic status from the scribe stone.

“Well?” Aron looked at me expectantly, my eyes flicked to him and back to the screen, relieved I found Available Classes quickly I was stumped, how did I open it? My status had appeared when I said status so maybe…

“Available classes” the panel in front of me changed.

Available Classes:
[Dishwasher]

Aron chortled “What are you like 4? Saying out loud what you want to look at”

I glared at him, my tail lashing behind me “Shut up”

“So what do you have unlocked?” he asked curiously, ignoring the jab.

“Just [Dishwasher]” he stopped smiling and looked at me oddly.

“How can you only have one class unlocked? Have you never done anything? Like ever?”

I opened my mouth and closed it suddenly realising how odd that must seem considering I managed to unlock [Dishwasher] after only a few hours of doing the dishes. By that logic people must unlock a bunch of random classes just by going about their lives so not having any classes unlocked even by age 9 was weird.

“I don’t know” I said, my tail drooped down “Please don’t tell anyone” I turned to look at him.

“Well sure, I mean its your status” he said surprised, but seeing my pleading look he said, “I promise I won't tell anyone” with more conviction.

“Thanks” I said breathing out a sigh of relief; I really didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself, better to blend in somehow.

We both went back to washing, we’d been doing this throughout dinner time, though Aron had gone out to help serve tables for a while when it got busy, but now we were the only ones left in the kitchen doing the last of the dishes.

“So what classes do you have unlocked?” I asked curious now.

He sighed “Nothing special, just the usual stuff and [Cook] is the only one I’ve chosen so far, grandpa teaches me sometimes”

I looked at him from the side “So that’s what you want to do?” he’d mentioned it earlier but I hadn’t had the chance to ask.

“Not really, I mean I love grandpa and the Inn and I like cooking but I’m not passionate about food like grandpa” slightly upset he slowed down cleaning and reached for more soap.

I waited for him to continue and it wasn't long before-

“Ok don’t tell grandpa, but what I really want to do is become a [Musician]” he turned to be eyes bright “A few years ago, this theatre troupe came here and I just knew, like when that guy played the harp or that woman was strumming the guitar, I could feel it in here” he put a wet hand to his chest look at me full of determined awe “I’d never heard anything like that before, it was like I could fly”

“But your grandpa would be disappointed if you chose to be a [Musician] instead of taking over the Inn?” I guessed.

He deflated slightly “Yeah that and I have no idea how to unlock the class, I mean I don’t even own an instrument. [Singer] is easy to unlock but I don’t want to do that, I was to make real music”

“Aren’t there any [Musicians] here that you could ask how to unlock the class?”

He snorted “Only drunk Al and he’s a dick, I asked him once and he spat at me”

“Oh” then again this was a small village, I hadn’t seen all of it, but there couldn’t be more than 1000 people here.

I mulled it over while we finished drying the remaining dishes, maybe I could help; I couldn’t play any instruments, but I had still had music at school and could read sheet music. So far everything like language had been similar so maybe they had the same way of writing sheet music here too? And after everything Aron had done for me, I should help him out.

“Hey have you ever tried reading learning how to write music? You don’t need an instrument for that and maybe it will help unlock the class?” I turned to him and it was his turn to look confused.

“What do you mean write music?”

“You know, people write down music so they don’t forget the notes when they compose music and can teach the piece to other people….” I trailed off as I watched his eyes get bigger as he stared at me.

“Do you-“ he swallowed “Do you know how to do that?” Big hopeful brown eyes stared at me.

“Well yeah a bit, but I’m not a [Musician]-”

“Please teach me” he grabbed my shoulders “I’ll do anything”

I leaned back and scowled pushing him away as his face came too close “Sure, just back up a bit, but don’t get your hopes up too high, you probably still need an instrument to unlock the class” he hastily retreated still smiling like it was his birthday.

“Yeah of course” he beamed at me, “can you show me today?”

“Sure lets just finish up here first” we were almost done anyway so it didn’t take long to dry the remaining dishes, pots and pans, put everything away and lock the kitchen door.

It was already dark outside and most people who were staying here had already gone up to bed. Aron was visibly forcing himself to walk at a normal pace when we went up the stairs to his room. Jak was sitting in the living room reading a book and he nodded to us when we came up, but turned back to his book and didn’t say anything else.

“Night grandpa” Aron waved, Jak grunted and I said “Good night” since I wasn’t sure what else to do.

When we closed the door to his room Aron ran to the desk and started rifling through the drawers to pull out a paper. There was ink and a quill on the table already. I came up behind him and he pushed me into the only chair and sat down on the corner of his cot staring at me expectantly.

“Right” I cleared my throat, music had never been my strongest subject but I hadn’t flunked it, I knew the basics and how to read it. I picked up the quill and drew 5 parallel lines on the paper while Aron watched me like a hawk “Ok so first you need to learn the notes and the clefs”


I woke up as sunlight blinded my eye, I moved away in discomfort and sat up, a sheet of paper stuck to my face followed me and I blinked and pulled it away. Opening my eyes properly I saw a panel.

You have unlocked the class: [Teacher]

I ignored it and looked around; next to me Aron was half on the cot and half on the floor, paper with music strewn around him, mouth open and drooling a bit.

I winced and stood up to stretch, sleeping in a hard wooden chair was incredibly uncomfortable. When I stretched I felt something move on me back again. I froze, I had completely forgotten about the potentially flesh eating spider on my back, though that seemed unlikely now.

Turning my head I tried to look at my back, pulling the collar of my shirt back I inhaled in shock. Those were wings. I tried to stretch them and just like moving my tail, I instinctively knew how to do it.

I lifted the back of my shirt so I could stretch them out and have a look. They were small, way too small and fragile looking to support my weight, but then again I was only 9 so maybe they would grow bigger? The widest part reached my butt and when I stretched them out completely they had roughly a 1.5m wingspan. They looked like bat wings, with a translucent light blue membrane stretched across a frame that had darker blue scales. I tried flapping them sending gusts of wind around the room.

That caused a groaning sound from the floor and Aron started to move, sliding onto thefloor completely before blinking awake “What are you- holy shit you have wings” he sat up quickly transfixed by my wings “Do all Drakes have wings? Can you fly?”

“I don’t know” I said, suddenly embarrassed, pulling my wings back, they folded up neatly to press against my back. They really were too small to be functional.

“If you go flying can you take me with you?” he begged.

I glared at him, “I can’t even fly by myself let alone carrying you”

“Well when you learn-“

“Fine” I said, I really didn’t like having my shortcomings pointed out, which was stupid considering 10 minutes ago I didn’t even know I had wings.

“Aron get a move on and bring Sasha,” a loud voice yelled from outside and a hand rapped on the door before footsteps trudged away.

“Coming grandpa,” Aron yelled back, “Let’s go” he said and got up, stretching his back and yawning before heading to the door.

Discretely I tried sniffing my armpits but it seemed aright even though neither Aron nor I had changed out of yesterday’s clothes.

Downstairs Jak was already in the kitchen making breakfast and he shoved 2 plates at us when we came in “Go eat, school starts in an hour and Sasha you’re going with Aron until they figure out what to do with you, no point in you falling behind in your education”

A pit formed in my stomach, school, would they expect me to know things like local geography and history? I don’t even know what land this was. Or the date.

Seeing the nervous look on my face, Aron whispered “don’t worry, the teacher is nice and you’ve got me so you won't be alone” I smiled at him trying to pretend that that was the issue, though honestly now that I thought about it, being the new kid at school always sucked.

Wolfing down breakfast, Aron led the way to the school. Turns out in a village this small, there weren’t many children and the 3 classes were divided into roughly ages 5-8, 9-12 and 13-15. That put me in the middle class with Aron.

Walking into the classroom I took a seat at a desk next to Aron. Looking around at the 30ish kids here, roughly 90% were human; there was the Minotaur boy from yesterday who Aron pretended to not see and 2 Lizardfolk kids. Lizardfolk were all various shades of green with long limbs and slim bodies, their snouts were far more triangular than mine and some adults had brightly coloured crests or frills on their heads.

I looked around at some of the humans; some of them looked at me curiously but otherwise everyone was already talking in their groups, waiting for the teacher to arrive. The door opened again and in strolled the ginger boy with his dark haired friend from yesterday. I stiffened and kept an eye on them but they took no notice and sat at the back with their groupies.

Huffing I ignored them, at least they hadn’t tried anything. The door opened again and a woman walked in, setting her things on the desk she turned to the class “Alright everyone settle down, we have a new student today, please welcome her nicely, Sasha could you please stand up and introduce yourself?” she smiled at me and I stood up looking around the class.

The entire class stared at me in silence, something proud in me preened under the attention and I stood straighter “Hello, I’m Sasha, I’m a drake, I’ll be joining this class for a now”

There was rumble as people mumbled welcome and I sat down and class started. The structure of classes was 2 subjects in the morning, then lunch and on Mondays everyone was assigned village worker who they would apprentice under for the week to unlock their class and learn some crafts. The idea was to have children unlock as many classes as possible for when they finally decided to choose their classes and level to join the workforce.

Today was maths and geography. Maths was ridiculously easy, I mean I technically I was a Uni student so it would have been embarrassing if I’d struggled here. I knew nothing in geography but luckily the teacher didn’t ask me anything either, though at least I learned that this was a predominantly human kingdom called Valansir with the capital city Holderm, which was just under a hundred km away. This village was on the eastern outskirts of the kingdom, near the border to the Republic of Sefir.

Around lunchtime the teacher finished class and started handing out slips of paper to the students. I unfolded my piece of paper.

Student: Sasha Lanncaster

Apprenticeship: Kurt Darson [Blacksmith]

Guess I was learning blacksmithing today then; I looked over at Aron who held up his slip

Student: Aron Seylar

Apprenticeship: Tycel Warcroft [Enchanter]

Slightly jealous that he got to do something involved with magic I crumpled up my slip and put it in my pocket. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do yet, but magic was real, how could I not want to learn about that?

“So what happens now?” I got up as other students started standing and milling around comparing their apprenticeships for this week.

“We go find whoever we’re shadowing this week, they help us unlock the class, we take the class and learn the basics and some skills, maybe gain a few levels, then at the end of the week we get rid of the class unless we really want to keep it and redo it with a different class next week”

“Wait so you level a class and then remove it from your active classes?” I was vaguely shocked, somehow I had thought that once you chose a class that was it, you were stuck with it “So can I get a bunch of classes and rotate them around so I level whatever is relevant?” suddenly I could see myself levelling hundreds of classes instead of just the 2 I’d been given slots for.

Aron laughed “No stupid, once you remove a class from your active slots, it starts to deteriorate, you loose the levels and skills so it’s impossible to juggle classes”

“Oh” I was vaguely disappointed and kind of annoyed that he crushed my idea.

“Come on I’ll show you to the Blacksmith, you can eat lunch there” we chatted on the way and eventually stopped at a building near the wall of the village.

“Well good luck, see you at the Inn later” Waving Aron ran off to his apprenticeship while I stood in front of the smoking building holding the slip of paper.

Stepping forward I knocked on the heavy wooden door waiting for someone to answer. Thudding footsteps arrived and the door was yanked open. I large man with huge arms and bigger waist looked down at me.

“Well fuck, got a lizard this week” he muttered “Well what are you, boy or girl?”

Anger rose in my stomach “I’m not a lizard, I’m a drake” I fixed my gaze on him, my tail stiffened and my wings flaring out slightly under my shirt.

“Same shit” he spat on the floor “Whatever, you can sit over there and watch” he gestured to a corner in the dirty room, before turning around and walking back to his forge. I steamed a bit; I should have expected this, racism, specism? But being around Aron had fooled me into thinking everyone was accepting of other species.

Head held high, I walked in, closing the door and went to sit on the floor where he had indicated. I sat with my back ramrod straight, refusing to show weakness and the man went about his work heating something in the forge before pulling it out and bashing it with his hammer.

All the windows were open to let in some cool air, but even then, the room was extremely hot. Various tools hung on the walls, scraps of metal and items in various stages of making were scattered about on tables.

He clearly wasn’t planning on teaching me so I ignored him, sneering at his turned back, I refused to beg him to teach me as my pride wouldn’t suffer it. Instead I took out my lunch and started eating the sandwich and apple. Swallowing some water, I was pretty bored when I finished.

I sighed, I had a few more hours of this to go, and I’d be doing this for the whole week. Irritated I leaned back against the wall. I decided to inspect my status.

Nothing had changed since last time and now I could guess what things were. I'd overheard one of the girls in school bragging that her parents had gotten her a necklace that gave +2 bonus intelligence so I assumed that’s what the bonus stat column was for, equipment, or maybe enchantments or magic or potions or whatever else in the world could enhance stats.

Though I still had no idea what the difference between base stats and augmented stats was, the numbers looked exactly the same, but there had to be some sort of difference. And even though I could see what stats I had, I had no idea what they meant or how to quantify how good the numbers were etc.

Looking at the bottom, I mentally selected inventory. Of course it was empty. When I opened contacts an error panel appeared.

Contacts requirement: Age >15

I scowled at the panel; well at least it made sense now that no one had asked me to message my contacts. Turning back the inventory I wondered how I could put stuff into it, it had a 6Kg limit, but it didn’t say anything about volume so was there a limit to how big something was?

I picked up a twig from the ground; there was a bunch of leaves and metal scraps that had been swept into the corner of the room. I looked at it contemplating how to put it into my inventory when a new panel appeared.

Twig is unclaimed
Claim twig: Yes/No?

I paused and thought yes and the panel disappeared. Nothing else seemed to have changed. I couldn’t suddenly magically feel the twig or anything; it was still just a twig. I tried thinking about putting it the inventory again and a different panel appeared.

Place your Twig (82g) into inventory: Yes/No?

Selecting yes, the twig vanished. I checked on the floor, I hadn’t dropped it, it had just disappeared, quickly I pulled up my status and checked inventory which now read:

Inventory: Weight:
Twig 82g
   
Weight available: 5.918Kg

I contemplated that, so you had to claim an item before you could store it in your inventory, I suppose that stopped people from simply stealing valuables from others by placing it into their inventory since I doubted you could claim an item that was already claimed by someone else.

Focusing on the twig and willing it out of the inventory, panel come up:

Remove your Twig (82g) from inventory: Yes/No?

Selecting yes the twig appeared in mid air in front of me and I lunged forwards to catch it. I glanced up to see if he’d noticed my antics, but he was busy bashing something on the anvil with his hammer.

Bored I leaned back against the wall and started playing with the scraps on the floor around me. I decided to try and stack it and build houses, but it asn't easy with such irregular shaped pieces of scrap and foliage. Finally I got something vaguely like a house with 4 walls to balance and when I carefully placed a leaf on top for the roof, the whole thing collapsed.

I sighed frustrated and gave up. Looking around to find something else to entertain myself with. There was a fat spider building its web in the ceiling corner furthest from the forge. A couple of ants were running around, it seemed like they’d found some bread crumbs from my sandwich and the apple core which I’d put down next to me.

Curiously I watched them work. At first it was only two or three, carrying breadcrumbs as big as them back into a tiny crack in the wall, but before long there was a whole train of them going back and forwards. I started putting obstacles in the way to see how they react, impressed by their ability to navigate a world with creatures so much larger than themselves.

Then instead of making it harder for them, I started to build an easier road, I used a twig to widen the hole in the wall slightly and cleared away the scraps on the road so they had a straight path to apple core since it would be easier for them that way. After a few mishaps they quickly found their way and worked on dismantling the apple core and carrying small sections back into the wall. I wondered how many of them were down there in their nest.

I watched them for a while longer when a large black beetle crawled out from under a piece of scrap metal and when an ant came too close, it pounced, pincers closing around the helpless ant as it quickly dragged it away from the others who barely seemed to notice their missing colleague.

I frowned and glared at the beetle that had withdrawn under the scrap and was now devouring the struggling ant. I could crush the beetle but my pride refused, no, the ants had to crush the beetle. Scowling I cleared away the scrap except the piece the beetle was under and started to jam pieces into the ground so they formed a misshapen wall around the are the beetle was in. No escape.

Then I lifted the last piece of scrap off the beetle and placed the apple core next to it. Immediately the beetle tried to crawl under the apple core for cover and I had placed it just so that it could wait there patiently.

Then I used some scrap to guide the ants back into the right direction to find the apple core. They found it and quickly restarted dismantling the core when one of them happened upon the beetle. The beetle attacked, but now there were a bunch of other ants to back up their friend, they swarmed the beetle; it was swift and brutal revenge. The numbers overwhelmed the beetle and it too was dismantled and brought back as food.

Satisfied with that victory I leaned back and a new panel appeared in front of me.

You have unlocked the Class: [Tactician]

 

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Quigels

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