The rush of being chased has no equal.
Swerving between the village homes, I steal a quick glance back at my pursuer. Richard's leaning over a boulder trying to catch his breath, I win again.
“You’ll never catch me!”
“You’ll never catch me!”
“You’ll never catch me!”
Like any good sister, I have to taunt my weaker older brother any chance I get. Four and a half years have passed since I was reborn and with the time difference I would be close to six now on earth.
“Tomorrow… you’ll never beat me again, little rabbit!” My face drops just like mother's as I stare daggers at Richard. Unfortunately, he hasn’t inherited fathers’ meeker side when scolded, so he stands there looking so proud using the nickname I hate. The worst part of the nickname is the whole village uses it.
Each morning, after I learned to run, I would do laps around the village trying to get faster each time. Spotted Creek village is great for a quick run, our village gets its name from the small creek that runs right next to the village headman’s house. My constant running around and the fact rabbits on this planet can have any color of fur including my light red shade landed me with the nickname. I think the other villagers are sadistic because they call out to me using it any chance they get; every one of them laughs at my reactions making it worse.
Brother does have a point though, looking up at the sky the seven red moons are starting to show as the small blue sun in the sky rises over the horizon. The people use the moons as their calendar here. The moons actually change colors as the year progresses. The lunar cycle is divided into three colors, five months long each. They start the year off red and shift to blue, then finally green for the end of the year. We're in the 3rd month of the red moons, and when Richard opened his Status page today his status limit was finally released.
When your status page is finally released, you aren’t considered a child anymore. On this occasion our parents gave us a free day to celebrate, so I made sure to play a game I know I could win, tag.
I don’t think brother is giving it his all, he keeps looking back at our house; waiting for our parents to signal us for his special dinner. Richard was told he would get an explanation on stats and advice on how to split them after an early dinner tonight.
Dad asked some of the village huntsmen to help him track something delicious this morning for the occasion. Three hours later, I watched them bring back a wolf the size of a bear; it was so cool. It took four men to dress the kill and dad took the best cuts of meat for us. The rest of the carcass was split between the other hunters for their help. As long as they don’t turn it into a stew, I'll be fine with whatever mother makes.
Seeing brother stare at our front door, I can’t help but think about all I’ve accomplished these last few years. Not only am I walking again but running has become my favorite pastime, I won’t take my mobility for granted again.
I can finally eat by myself again with a full set of teeth in and I think my first baby tooth is about to fall out soon. I finally have the language down too, spending basically six years surrounded by a foreign language helped a lot.
The most important thing however is I’ve mostly made peace with my situation. I still get a little sad thinking about my past life, but I’m really looking forward to my new one. The only time I had a relapse was during the potty training. As a man I never really thought about proper wiping techniques and there was that one time I was half asleep and started to pee standing up.
The more I gained control of my new body, the more I adjusted to the slight differences. I can happily say I feel at home in my new skin. I found stretching everyday has made me way more limber than I used to be. It might be because I started stretching when I reached two or that women are just more flexible than men, doesn’t matter I can finally bend over and touch my toes.
I sprint past brother to our opening front door. That sound gives it away every time.
Without looking back, I shout; “Too slow again brother!”
“Hey”, I hear him shout behind me as he tries to catch-up. I squeeze past dad nearly blocking the whole doorway, running upto mom giving her the biggest hug I can manage. Dad looks surprised he didn’t even need to call us in. Moving out of the doorway so brother can enter, Richard finally sees the table full of food. While brother is staring at the wolf-bear steaks together we all say...
Before brother can break from his shock, the three of us sandwiched him in a hug fest.
After breaking apart, we take our seats at the table, brother gets the first choice of the spread. This is the first time I’ve seen such a feast since reincarnating. Usually its good old stew and maybe a few loafs of bread from granny Gellar a few houses over.
This time we have steaks, bread, potato substitute, roasted corn stuff, and an actual salad made from forest greens. Its hard-memorizing new names for everything when I want call them their old names. The bread is solid and made from a giant wheat plant that grows nearly ten feet tall called Weizen. The potatoes actually grow on trees in the forest; they look like lumpy apples and have a huge seed in the middle like an avocado. The villagers call them pomme. The red corn grows on stalks only as tall as me (3’ 9’’). Ironically, it’s called blood maize because when cooked the juices that leak out are a deep red like the corn so it looks like its bleeding. The salad is a mystery to me; it looks like there are multiple types of leaves mixed together with some mashed berries, I was never a huge fan of salad.
After everyone is served and mom helps me cut up my food, we give our thanks.
“We give our thanks to the gods and spirits of the forest. We thank you for the food we received and the continued health of our family, may your blessings hold true.”
I asked earlier in the year who the gods are and mother and father said they would explain it to me when I’m older.
“Did you finally catch the rabbit sweety?”, mom looks at brother then to me smiling sweetly with sarcasm.
“No, I couldn’t catch up, it’s too fast.” Brother smiles at mom then joins her looking at my reaction.
I know I’m playing into their hands but I can’t help but frown at my nickname. I can only hope I get a cooler one when I get older.
“It’s not my fault you're so slow, raise your skill level more!” I retort furiously. I look to dad for some backup but he has to drown my hopes tonight to.
“You shouldn’t tease your brother today Aaliyah, just let him have his moment. Starting tomorrow, he’ll probably catch you easily depending on how he puts his points.”
The rest of the dinner, dad spends exaggerating his part with the hunt this morning. Dad is strong enough to kill most monsters nearby with a single swing of his axe, but the man couldn’t find trees in a forest if he’s not looking straight at them. That’s why he had to ask some of the huntsmen to help him track a decent meal for tonight.
“So there I was, crouched in the bushes after the beast's trail, when suddenly the Farkas leaps from the brush behind me. In a single moment I turn and swing my axe, using all my skills at once slicing its head clean off.”
Definitly a good story, I can tell by mom's smile that maybe 15% of that is true. Richard's eyes are wide open and hanging on every word. I start thinking how dad has conveniently left out the other three men that were with him.
The rest of dinner is full of tall tales of father's work in the woods, cutting down trees with a single swipe, or even felling a tree as thick as our house when he was younger. With each tale, mother's smile grows more and more.
Finally, clearing the table of our empty dishes, cleaning and sorting each together; the four of us sit back down and the parents start explaining to Richard about proper stat distribution.
Dad starts us off by putting his most serious face on and looks Richard in the eye. “Richard, I need you to focus on what we are going to tell you and take this very seriously. How you distribute your stats will decide your future paths in life. Depending on which stats you focus on, you can change both your mind and body.”
Mother takes his attention next. “Honey if you want to get into a more physical job you need to focus on Vitality, Endurance, and Strength. However, if you want to head towards a craftsman job you should focus on Dexterity, Senses, and Mind.”
“But don’t forget to always place a few points in other areas as well, especially Vitality” Dad cuts in quickly.
“I was about to explain that next Darrius!” Mother snaps at dad. “You see sweety you’re still growing and now is the best time to distribute your stats. Depending on how you distribute your points you will likely grow taller, more muscular, and even age slower. Because of this every person puts a part of their points into Vitality not only to survive in a bad situation but to slow their aging without sacrificing too much in other areas.”
I know they're focusing on brother really hard now but I have questions to.
“What about the other two?” My question reminds the parents I’m still here. They both look at me then back to brother and explain Magic and Clarity.
“Those two stats are not for everybody… you need to have talent for magic before you waste points on them.”
Richard looks at mom with a confused face obviously wanting her to continue.
“Mana related skills, even the lowest ones, are much harder to get. People have tried to unlock these skills in the past by pouring the majority of their points into Magic and Clarity but found that if a person didn’t have a talent in magic, they would never really use those stats.”
“How do you know if you can use magic?” I couldn’t help but ask again.
Both of them just smile sadly and tell us it takes years of practice and a mentor.
“If you really want to try Richard, I could offer Anastasia some extra work to teach you. She’s the only person in our village that can use magic even a little. If not, when you’re a little older you can travel to the neighboring city and try to find a mentor there.”
Brother looks a little crest fallen but nods his head in understanding. Mother moves to give him a light hug and continues the lecture.
“You also need to remember your Status Page is very personal. It represents who you are as a person and they should only be shared with those you love and trust. Your father and I are going to tell you ours to explain to you how we distributed our points, make sure never tell anyone outside our house this…. I’ll go first:”
LV: 32 Experience: 7,293/23,513
Health: 1050/1050 Stamina: 531/573 Mana: 200/200
Status Points: 0
Skills: Running (LV7), Mathematics (LV17), Writing (LV22), Trading (LV19), Lower Price (LV9), Cooking (LV34), Sewing (LV31), Cleaning (LV41), Dagger skills (LV10)
“You see I spent my younger years learning how to operate my family's store before I met your father. Most of my skills are business related. When I turned ten my parents had me put most of my free points into the crafting categories. The rest of my skills I picked up after I met your father and we started our family.”
“She burnt half our meals after we moved out to the village, He-He.”
Ignoring father, mother explains how experience can also be earned from creating almost anything. From crafting, hunting, or even arguing over a better deal can award someone experience. The catch however is it depends on how much effort you put into your work. If a farmer throws some seeds on the ground and comes back a few months later he’ll get some experience, but the farmer who cares for his field all season long gets many times more during harvest time.
“Alright now its my turn!” dad takes the lead:
LV: 36 Experience: 13,816/38,335
Health: 1450/1450 Stamina: 1,038/1,113 Mana: 40/40
Status Points: 0
Skills: Running (LV24), Cleaning (LV12), Axe Skills (LV51), Woodcarving (LV29), Hunting (LV13), Axe Arts (LV40), Perfect-Chop (LV19)
I can’t help but stare as dad tells us his stats, his physical stats are ridiculous.
Mom picks up the lecture again after dad finishes. “Your father never invested any points in Magic or Clarity like I did. My parents had me take classes from a local mage in hopes I could unlock magic but I only ended up wasting my points. Another thing I hope you noticed Richard is that even though I have more skills than your father, his are better grouped and much stronger.”
“You should place some of your points tonight but I’d leave most of them open, talk to the other villagers and try to get some random jobs to help you decide on what you want to do. Most of our neighbors would love some free labor, it’ll help you gain a few general skills in return. Don’t be in a rush each level gets harder to cross, most people never get past level 60.” Dad drills some last pieces of advice home.
“I will, thanks for helping me so much, I’ll take my time to decide.” Brother excuses himself from the table and heads for our room looking deep in thought. I follow behind him a few minutes later, to see him staring at the roof with a serious face. I could only think about how many times I’ve been there.
I walk over to his bed and crawl up beside him. He finally turns to me so I tackle him and give him a big hug. Once his face relaxes again, I shuffle off and crawl into my bed wishing him a good night.
It looks like he’s going to be up pretty late thinking, so I can’t practice Expel Mana until he falls asleep but I can still meditate while I’m pretending to be asleep.
After he finally passes out two hours later, I expel most of my mana.
Fighting the drowsiness, I pull up my Status Page:
LV: 26 Experience: 257/10,530
Health: 130/130 Stamina: 49/110 Mana: 37/170
Status Points: 250
Skills: Sense Mana (LV19), Acting (LV20), Meditation (LV22), Expel mana (LV8), Charm (LV12), Running (LV14), Cleaning (LV4)
68 months down 82 more to go.
I wonder if I can get a higher level than mother by then?