My third year into this new life came quickly. I spent the time well. I read all of the books Mom had in the house. I kept up with my strength training, as well as anything else I could think of. As a result, Reading reached level four and I'd gained another two points to STR. Interestingly, Language hit level two through usage alone. I discovered that I had been right in thinking that each year would give me a nice stats boost, specifically one to each.
As with Anna, Max's testing came around his sixth birthday. His stats were similar to Anna's, but he had no affinities. With Anna away at the church's school, I'd taken her spot in the second bedroom with Max following my second birthday. Due to my absence in my parents' room, Mom was now pregnant again. Seeing as how far she was along, it couldn't be more than three months until I had another sibling. Dad's wallet was crying... at least Anna's education was free, so I guess the new baby was a way of spending that money anyway?
I walked into the living room one Sunday afternoon while Mom was helping Max learn how to read in the kitchen. Dad was dressed in thick, warm linen clothing to suit the season. He was reading a training manual very slowly, likely getting lost in thought frequently and having to reread that section. That was a common thing for him. He was dyslexic after all.
"What does your status look like?"
"Well, when you say Status or think it, you get information about yourself."
"I know that much, Dad. I've read mine."
Dad looked at me stunned.
"You can read? But your mother didn't teach you yet!"
"I taught myself," I said proudly.
"Well," Dad said with a heavy sigh. I could tell he was coming to terms with the seemingly disparate facts that I was both three years old and able to read. The truth would have stopped his heard had he known. "what's going on that you want to know about my status?"
"I'm curious. I've seen Max's and I know Anna had hers done a long time ago, too, and I wanted to see how I compared to you and Mom."
"It's good to be curious, but just know that your status is something you keep private. Only share it with people you trust with your life because it may as well be your life."
"I understand, Dad."
"Good. So what about my status did you want to know about?"
Dad sighed. "Didn't you hear what I said about keeping it private?"
"Of course, Dad. I trust you with my life!"
I was being difficult on purpose. I wanted to know, sure, but taking advantage of my age once in a while felt good.
Dad stood up and walked down the hallway. He returned a few minutes later with a piece of paper that has his status on it.
"This is from last year's evaluation. It's not exact, but it'll give you a good idea. I'll be keeping my current status a secret. I hope you can understand."
I did. The paper was plenty. I'd have a few follow up questions, but it was a good place to start. Dad didn't have to know that I'd read Anna's
|Name: Henry McPherson||Level: 8||Class: Guard||
|AGI: 27||CHA: 30||CON: 24||END: 26|
|FIN: 30||INT: 25||STR: 32||WIS: 25|
|Language lv5||Reading Lv3||Writing Lv3||Swordfighting Lv4|
|Archery Lv2||Heat of Rage Lv6|
"Thanks, Dad. You have a class and I am only Level 1. How do you get more levels?"
"I got most of mine through training with the other guards back when I was in school. You can get more levels more quickly by fighting monsters, but that's risky business."
"Ok. And how do you get a class?"
"There are requirements that you have to meet. For example, the Guard class needs STR of 20 or higher and Level 5 or higher before something in your head lets you make the decision to take that class."
"What do you mean 'something in your head'?"
"Do you ever get occasional things when your stats increase or you get your skills to level?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"It's like that."
He'd answered well enough for my purposes. I still had a few things I was curious about, but Dad didn't know everything either. I'd ask Mom or I'd have to wait until my testing in another three years' time. I turned to leave after a moment of silence.
"What about your status, Kiddo?"
"What about it?"
"Well, what's your highest stat right now?"
"Seriously? I did not expect that. What's your STR right now? Your mother would probably kill me if she knew I was suggesting this, but--"
"Suggesting what, exactly?"
Mom's voice caused me to turn around. She gave Dad a look of suspicion. Max was trailing behind her. Gossip attracted people of all ages like moths to light.
"Well, it turns out our little man over here can read."
"I can read, Mom."
"I heard the first time. I just can't believe it. So what situation has your father gotten himself into this time?"
I could feel the pressure on me from her gaze, but I knew Dad had it worse. I was just a pawn in this investigation. She really wanted to hear from the king.
"Well, since he can read, he was asking about statuses and I showed him mine from last year."
"I don't see how that needs to be kept a secret, no?"
"Well, one thing led to another and I was going to see what his STR was to see if he might want to learn Swordfighting or Archery."
"Well, that's a disaster waiting to happen, isn't it. His STR would need to be over 10 before even thinking about even light training."
"Of course Dear."
"As long as you understand. Max is close, but it'll probably be another year before he'll be able to. And even then, the school is responsible for that. Henry, I don't understand you sometimes. He's three for Gods' sake!"
"You're right as always Dear." He paused and turned his attention to me. "Let's pretend that I wasn't going to offer you anything, ok?"
"Mom," I continued, "you'd consider it if I got my STR over 10 right?"
"Sure, James. I'd consider it."
"Well, my STR is 13," I said, with a great big, beaming smile.
"Don't lie to me!" Her face had a nasty look.
"I'm not, Mom. I want to learn to fight from Dad!"
"Arm wrestle your brother then! If you can beat him, I'll believe you. God help you if you're lying to me!"
Max snapped to attention at her words. He had been smiling at the discord between the three of us, fortunate that he was able to watch rather than participate. This sort of family drama didn't give out any participation awards that you'd want. Max walked to the kitchen table and sat down at one of the corners. I followed and sat on the other side of the corner. Mom glared at me, trying to make it into a walk of shame. I didn't let it bother me.
Max stuck his arm out, elbow down, and I grabbed his hand with mine. After a signal was given, I pushed with all of my might. To everyone's surprise, Max's hand slapped the table. Well, everyone's surprise except mine. Based on what was said, his STR was probably an 8 or a 9. I had the advantage, even if no one took me seriously.
"I just can't believe this!" Mom was still mad. She was shocked, now, and didn't have me to direct her fury at. "He is not going to do any training!"
I knew it was pointless to argue right now. She would probably come around in the next day or two after she'd calmed down and had a think. There wasn't a huge rush to get started with training. It would be nice to level, though. I pulled up Status for a full review of where I was.
|Name: James McPherson||Level: 1||Class: None||
|AGI: 7||CHA: 7||CON: 7||END: 8|
|FIN: 9||INT: 13||STR: 13||WIS: 15|
|Black: 10%||Blue: 10%||Green: 10%||Orange: 10%|
|Red: 10%||Violet: 10%||White: 10%||Yellow: 10%|
|Reading Lv4||Language Lv2|