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A note from kosnik4

If you want to read ahead, any donation unlocks chapters 25 and 26. Even a dollar is appreciated. 

Looking up at the night sky, I’m awed at the beauty of the heavens. There is no light pollution in this world, and the moons are just bright enough for my eyes to work in the middle of the night.

Rubbing my hand across the boulder I’m sitting on; I remember the first time I distributed my status points. It was on this rock I overcame my first challenge with my stats. Well, next to it, I also remember falling off the boulder and Richard laughing at me.

I came out here to regain a sense of focus. I decided to embrace my new skill, and already entered my weird dream five times tonight. I figured I could condition myself to the sensation of having my soul observed, only to wake up each time trembling in my sheets.

With each consecutive look at my soul, I would technically pass out and sleep, but I would never feel rested when I was forced awake. So, now I’m stuck in a weird sleepy/awake limbo. 

I’ve never come outside this late at night. The moons are almost finished changing to blue, signaling fall approaching. The night sky is only partially cloudy, a rarity this time of year. The thousands of stars create a truly magical picture. Raising my hand up, I imagine plucking the beautiful jewels from the sky.

“Creeekkkk.”

Looking over my left shoulder, I watch father slowly stride over to my impromptu seat. “Everything ok sweety?” He’s trying not to show how worried he is about finding me out here.

Gripping the rock with my hands, I easily pick myself up and shift positions so I’m facing father. “Not really, dad. I keep having the same dream. It’s not a nightmare anymore, but it’s tied to a new skill I got and it won’t let me sleep properly. I thought I could sneak out here and clear my head. I’m sorry for waking you up.”

My sudden confession startles him so much he can only stand and rub his arm trying to think of a response.

“We should talk inside; you’ll catch a cold dressed like that.” Looking down, father reminded me I’m still in my nightgown. The gown can’t be considered risqué, it’s just thinner than my usual clothes and was meant to be worn under my blankets.

“Don’t worry dad, I’ll come back in a moment. I’m using one of my magic skills, so I don’t feel cold.” I’m channeling Mana Skin, making sure the early fall breeze doesn’t affect me.

“Then I’ll sit out here with you, till you’re ready to come back inside then.” Before I can object, father is already sitting with his back to the boulder. He’s close enough that we can talk in a whisper, but still far enough away to give me my space.

I try to ignore him, but I can’t help but turn away from the night sky every few seconds to check on him.

“Haaa,” this is going nowhere. Before dad can ask what’s wrong, I slide down the side of the boulder, and snuggle up against his side. His huge arm drapes around me, allowing me to continue viewing the stars with a new sense of peace.

After looking at the stars together, I feel confident enough to ask for father’s help. “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, daddy? No matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out how to use my skill. If I can’t figure out how to utilize it properly, I’ll probably never be able to sleep soundly again.” 

“Huh, that does sound like a problem. You’re a handful when you’re rested, I don’t want to see you when you’re sleep deprived.” 

Elbowing father, I complain about his joke. “I’m serious! No matter how many times I use my skill, the same thing just keeps happening.”

“That sounds like your problem to me.” 

My eyes go wide, as I try to shift my position so I can look at dad’s face. “What do you mean?”

“It sounds like you’re trying to force it to do something, when it might just be a support skill.”

“That’s a good theory dad, but I don’t think it’s a support skill. I can feel when it activates.”

“Maybe at higher levels, your skill is supposed to work on its own, but remember you just obtained it. You should think about what your skill affects and try pairing it with other skills or physical activities. Start small and see if that helps.”

I can only stare dumbfounded up at father. “Are you secretly a genius, dad?”

“You should tell your mother that, she doesn’t believe I have good ideas.” Chuckling at dad’s joke, I move onto his lap and give him a hug.

“Thanks for helping me again,” I whisper in his ear. 

Father responds with a soft tone that conveys all the love in the world. “Anytime sweety. Let’s go back inside. I won’t tell you to go back to bed, but you can’t stay outside till dawn.”

Still in a bear hug, father picks me up and carries me back inside. Kicking off our work boots, neither of us bother with our indoor shoes. Back on the ground, we walk down the hallway, and father tells me one last thing before we go back to our rooms. “I’ll tell your mother that you might be tired tomorrow and she shouldn’t disturb you. Take your time with your skill. I know you’ll master it soon.”

With a final kiss on my forehead, I watch dad silently slip into his room and close the door silently behind himself.

Climbing back into bed, I’m anxious to try out my skill again. However, this time I take father’s advice and think about what my Sense Soul skill affects.

…Well my soul for one.

But what else does it do?

Master Del said stone kin believe everything comes from the soul. So, should I try to use it to change my emotions? Maybe I can use it to increase my magic abilities, no I already tried that. I need something that comes from my soul, that’s easy to feel…

…why can’t I just unlock a skill for this!

Skills!

My Status Page!

Master Del said that skills might originate from the soul, so the status pages everyone pulls up must come from the soul too.

I decide to try something new. I enter my meditative state, and focus on the general area of my soul. I stop once I sense the smallest flicker of translucent flames. I know from previous attempts, that if I delve any deeper, I’ll pass out and end up in that annoying dream again.

Let’s see if my hunch is correct. I mentally pull up my status page, looking for anything coming out of my soul.

LV: 58 Experience: 231,571/ 353,634
Health: 2,000/2,000 
Stamina: 1,248/1,250 
Mana: 782/1,000
Vitality: 200
Endurance: 75
Strength: 100
Dexterity: 100
Senses: 60
Mind: 60
Magic: 100
Clarity: 75
Status Points: 21
Skills: Sense Mana (LV76), Acting (LV30), Meditation (LV76), Expel mana (LV53), Charm (LV50), Running (LV66), Cleaning (LV50), Mathematics (LV30), Writing (LV32), Mana Manipulation (LV41), Wood Carving (LV19), Drawing (LV37), Axe Skills (LV50), Inject mana (LV40), Mining (LV37), Cooking (LV29), Sewing (LV24), Chanting (LV41), Blacksmithing (LV50), Hammer Skills (LV45), Measurement (LV36), Intimidating Shout (LV26), Spear Skills (LV2), Dagger Skills (LV31), Trading (LV26), Hammer Arts (LV34), Axe Arts (LV29), Dagger Arts (LV12), Double Step (LV39), Increase price (LV7), Lower Price (LV4), Double Strike (LV21), Precise Strike (LV18), Mana Skin (LV29), Sense Soul (LV4) 

The only thing that’s changed is the Sense soul skill leveled again but that doesn’t matter right now.

I dismiss the page and wait 30 seconds before I pull it up again.

I quickly lose track of time, as I continue to summon and dismiss my status page, until I get a firm sense of the sensation that summoning my status page generates.

I never noticed till now, that the status page is formed from a different energy. I always thought my status page was conjured with a tiny bit of mana because everyone has at least a little mana in their bodies. Once I have the feeling down, I try and trace its origin.

My hypothesis was correct. As I trace the appearance of my status page back to my soul. I can’t tell if my status page is coming from the circle inside the flames or the translucent flames themselves.

What would happen if I pull my status page up at the exact time, I activate Sense Soul?

I make sure I’m comfortable, just in case I pass out again.

I don’t know if chanting your skills really helps, but it couldn’t hurt. “Status Page, Sense Soul!”

With my skill activated at the same time as I pull up my status page, I watch as the tinniest bit of the flames peel off and move up to my brain. Once the flames reach the back of my brain, my status page materializes in front of me.

Dismissing my page, the flames move back towards my soul, following the same route they took to my brain. 

Del would freak if I told him I could prove that status pages come from the soul. Now that I think about it, if it’s in their lore, a stone kin must have gained a similar skill once and figured it out. Maybe even some humans are aware of the fact and they just keep the knowledge classified like everything else.

Back to my skill, I shouldn’t distract myself now that I’ve finally made some progress. Next, I should try manipulating the flames as they travel to my brain.

 


 

After two hours of trying to stop, slowdown, or even speed up the small flames, I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t alter their path in any way right now

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself again. My skill is Sense Soul, not Manipulate Soul. Activating my status page for the hundredth time tonight, I watch the flames once again settle in my brain. Now that these flames are separated from the whole, maybe I can use my skill on the small bit of flames without knocking myself out.

I ignore my status page floating in my vision, this time using my Sense Soul skill on the flames in my brain. These small bits of flame should be information about my status points and skill, so I should already know what the flames represent.

Focusing my Sense Soul skill on the….

I immediately fall on my back, clutching the sides of my head. My eyes feel like they’re going to pop out of my head as the worst migraine assaults me. The headache is so bad I can’t focus on anything around me. The status page in front of me has warped into something illegible.

!^)^[email protected]* )^7$(%^@^
%*(% %[email protected]%^^ &^5*&(#
@^#& &$$&**44 $$*
%$*%$$!!^*)

Clenching my teeth, I try not to whimper too loud. If I wake my parents right now, there’ll be no end to my problems.

In my pain, I dismiss my status page. Once the flames leave my head, the pain slowly fades away. Once the pain reduces by half, I try to meditate, hoping it will help in removing the pain faster.

I spend what feels like an eternity suppressing and clearing the pain in my head. I’m wide awake now. The pain was so great, I now have a rush of adrenaline.

Is my status page broken now? The fear of the possible pain is suppressed by my rush of adrenaline, so I re-summon my status page, praying I won’t be assaulted by the headache again.

LV: 58 Experience: 241,171/ 353,634
Health: 2,000/2,000 
Stamina: 1,248/1,250 
Mana: 782/1,000
Vitality: 200
Endurance: 75
Strength: 100
Dexterity: 100
Senses: 60
Mind: 60
Magic: 100
Clarity: 75
Status Points: 21
Skills: Sense Mana (LV76), Acting (LV30), Meditation (LV77), Expel mana (LV53), Charm (LV50), Running (LV66), Cleaning (LV50), Mathematics (LV30), Writing (LV32), Mana Manipulation (LV41), Wood Carving (LV19), Drawing (LV37), Axe Skills (LV50), Inject mana (LV40), Mining (LV37), Cooking (LV29), Sewing (LV24), Chanting (LV41), Blacksmithing (LV50), Hammer Skills (LV45), Measurement (LV36), Intimidating Shout (LV26), Spear Skills (LV2), Dagger Skills (LV31), Trading (LV26), Hammer Arts (LV34), Axe Arts (LV29), Dagger Arts (LV12), Double Step (LV39), Increase price (LV7), Lower Price (LV4), Double Strike (LV21), Precise Strike (LV18), Mana Skin (LV29), Sense Soul (LV6), Mental Resistance (LV1)

Oh gods! Two levels in Sense Soul, a level in Meditation, and a new Tier 4 skill. I finally got a resistance skill; they’re considered the hardest tier 4 skills. Was the headache that bad? I’ve always had a strong Mind Stat, so maybe this experience was a tipping point. Mental Resistance might be the solution to my problems, being a tier 4 skill, it should level quicker than Sense soul. Maybe once Mental Resistance Is high enough, I can sleep properly again.

There’s only one way to level my skills quickly… this is going to hurt.

Why can’t I have a training montage skill.

 


 

“I did it!” Unfurling my legs, I jump off of my bed and start hopping around my room. Opening my bedroom door, I run into our kitchen shouting for mother. “Mom! I did it, I finally managed to find a use for my new skill!”

“I’m so happy for you, sweety.” Mother’s expression can barely be counted as a smile. 

“What’s wrong mom? Something bad happen?” I innocently move closer to mother.

Now she looks angry, what did I say? “What’s wrong, she says. What’s wrong is my daughter hasn’t left her room for five days except for eating and using the bathroom! Every time I came to check up on you, you looked like you were trying not to cry! We’ve been worried sick! Even Del has been stopping by each day wondering when you’ll come back to work.”

“It’s been five days?” It felt like three max. Mother does not like my response, her expression turns savage. “Yes… five days. You avoided everyone for five days after telling your father you couldn’t control a skill.” 

Oh gods, her voice went quiet! “I’m sorry for worrying you mom, need help with dinner?”

Take the bait! Take the bait! Her eyes are only narrowing!

“Sure, you can help. Peel the pomme for me.” Why did her expression suddenly turn to joy? Taking slow steps into the kitchen, I pick up a pomme. 

Mother is sitting off to the side watching my every movement. Grabbing a knife, I slowly try to peel the pomme. When I have the pomme a third of the way pealed I lose control of my strength. My grip pulverizes the… Vegetable? Is a pomme considered a Vegetable or a fruit? It looks like a potato but grows on a tree.

Dismissing my botany question, I turn to mother, who is still watching me. “Mom, can you help me with the peeling?”

“What’s that? Sounds like someone was asking for help. Couldn’t be my daughter, she secludes herself without warning anybody. I’m sure she can handle dinner on her own.” I see what she did there. She must have been really worried about me. If my punishment is to make dinner by myself, I can see how that’s reasonable.

Four crushed pomme later, I’m starting to rethink how difficult my punishment is.

I wonder if father or Del will try something similar? I’m the one who makes Del clean his house, so I don’t think he has anything to punish me with. Now dad on the other hand, I work with dad once a week. He could make my life hell in the forest.

Tonight, is going to be a long night.

 


 

Back in bed, I rub my eyes, trying to work the stress out. Mother did not go easy on me. She had me moving back and forth between cleaning and cooking, she made sure I had the house spotless before father came home. Luckily dad wasn’t mad at me, but he realized what mother was doing, and smartly stepped back while she distributed the punishments.

I spent all dinner listening to mother throwing in jabs at my secluded training. The only thing I said all night was, “yes mother” and telling mother and father that I’m going to Del’s tomorrow.

Despite the chores and verbal berating, mother gave me a kiss and a hug goodnight while whispering that she was happy I’m all right. Father likewise gave me an encouraging hug and asked I not seclude myself again. I shouldn’t be amazed by their love anymore.

Relaxing, I want to feel bad but the gains from the last five days were huge. I vastly leveled my two new skills while subjecting myself to what amounts to mental torture. 

When my Sense Soul skill reached level 15 and Mental Resistance was able to hit level 20, I was finally able to look at the flame that is my status page. Once I was able to look at the smaller flame, I continued to train my skills even higher. The best part was figuring out the flame contained much more information than what is normally shown. After sifting through, essentially a mass of constantly moving data, I could reorganize my status page.

LV: 59 Experience: 28,287/ 385,461
Health: 2,000.00/2,000
Stamina: 1,083.71/1,250 
Mana: 892.67/1,000
Vitality: 200.00
Endurance: 75.00
Strength: 100.00
Dexterity: 100.03
Senses: 60.11
Mind: 61.92
Magic: 100.08
Clarity: 75.04
Status Points: 31
Skills:
Tier 1:
Meditation (LV77), Running (LV66), Cleaning (LV50), Axe Skills (LV50), Blacksmithing (LV50), Hammer Skills (LV45), Chanting (LV41), Mining (LV37), Drawing (LV37), Dagger Skills (LV31),  Acting (LV30), Cooking (LV29), Trading (LV26), Sewing (LV24), Wood Carving (LV19), Spear Skills (LV2)
Tier 2:
Sense Mana (LV76), Charm (LV50), Double Step (LV39), Measurement (LV36), Writing (LV32), Hammer Arts (LV34), Mathematics (LV30), Axe Arts (LV29), Intimidating Shout (LV26), Dagger Arts (LV12), Increase price (LV7), Lower Price (LV4)
Tier 3:
Expel mana (LV53), Mana Manipulation (LV41), Double Strike (LV21), Precise Strike (LV18)
Tier 4:
Inject mana (LV40), Mana Skin (LV29), Mental Resistance (LV24)
Tier 5:
Sense Soul (LV17)

Tier 5 skills are strong. Leveling Sense Soul and Mental Resistance earned me enough experience to reach level 59, and that’s only the smallest bonus.  Using Sense Soul, I can organize my skills not only into the different tiers but also by their overall level, and that’s not even the best part. The most amazing part of my new status page is the increased details of my stats.

I can track the use of Health, Stamina, and Mana to a much finer degree. But it’s not just my three main stats, the most eye opening is the improved details of my Vitality and other stats.

I can now see how close I am to naturally earning a status point. If I’m close to gaining a status point in a particular stat, I won’t waste a free point raising it higher. I wish my status page was this detailed from the start. Who knows how many points I was close to earning during both of my status distributions?

Pulling up this extra information still generates a small headache, even with my Mental resistance at level 24. While my page is still up, I dig through the information in the flames and isolate a specific skill.

Tier 1, Blacksmithing (LV50, 84%)

It is much more difficult, but if I focus on a skill, I can see how close it is to leveling. Dismissing all the information, I sit back waiting for my small headache to disappear.

Looking down at myself, I’m reminded about how dirty I am. Spending five days in your room doesn’t leave you smelling great, especially in a world where deodorant is an alchemical concoction that sells for 2 silver coins.

Standing up from my bed, I use the greatest spell ever. “Ahyt ls weem appiss!”

The blood, sweat, and tears fall away from my body, as the magic mist removes any traces of my secluded training. I shake out my clothes and watch a few nodes of dust fall to the floor. Finally, clean!

Hopping back in bed, I can’t wait to try sleeping now that I have Mental Resistance. Hopefully the skill will keep the annoying dream away. This is the first time I’ll be trying to sleep normally without purposely knocking myself out with Sense Soul.

Pulling my blanket over my head, I try to sleep. But….

My bed smells!

When was the last time I washed my sheets? I think it was a few days before my training started, maybe longer? I usually use my cleaning magic before I go to bed, but constantly passing out during my training rendered that a moot point.

Now that I’m clean, my sense of smell can pick out the body odor emanating from my bed. I’m sure mother would yell at me if I tried doing laundry so late at night.

If only my cleaning spell had a wider range.

Well it does clean my clothes too.

Maybe I can be creative about this! Removing my nightwear, I wrap my blanket around myself as tight as I can get it. The material sticks out farther than my clothes, but let’s see what happens.

“Ahyt ls weem appiss!”

Once the mist fades, I notice the outer layers of blanket don’t look any different. There’s only a little dirt under my feet, maybe my blanket wasn’t as dirty as I thought?

Unfurling my brown wool blanket, made from bivol fur, a cloud of dirt explodes from the folded blanket. Looking at my blanket, a little more than half is a light brownish color, while the other part is still the blackish brown I’m used to. My plan worked!

Rewrapping myself, with other side of the blanket first, I cast the spell again. “Ahyt ls weem appiss!”

This time when I unwrap my blanket, I’m holding a beautifully clean blanket. Magic can be such a cheat.

“Ahyt ls weem appiss!”
“Ahyt ls weem appiss!”
 “Ahyt ls weem appiss!”

After switching between my sheet and pillow, I even clean the hides that make up the base of my bed. Eight uses of the cleaning spell have left me close to my 20% limit.

Fighting off the new sense of tiredness that comes with low mana, I reassemble my bed. My bed is the cleanest I’ve ever seen it. With everything magically scrubbed, the materials are brighter, and even shoving my nose into my blanket, I can only smell wool.

Slipping my nightgown back on, I snuggle tightly into a ball and let sleep take me. Even with mom’s disciplinary measures, today was a good day.

 


 

Without opening my eyes, I feel the morning sun’s rays wash over me. For the first time in forever, I had a peaceful sleep. Like a battery recharged fully, I feel amazing. I think I’ll lie here for a moment, enjoying the best morning I ever had.

My peace is interrupted as I hear the patter of footsteps down the hall. Father should have already left for the woods, leaving mother and myself as the only people in the house. There is only one reason she would be walking this way right now.

Turning away from the door, I try and pretend to be asleep.

“Knock-knock,” mother taps the door a few times before I hear it swing open.

“Aaliyah, are you up? You said you wanted to…... AALIYAH, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR ROOM!!”

The hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up hearing my mother’s shout. Nervously, I turn over and open my eyes for the first time this morning.

Mother’s wrathful gaze isn’t pointed at me; no, it’s pointed at the floor.

Looking at the floor, I tremble at the sight. My bedroom floor is covered in black flakes of filth. In the light, you can see how dirty my bed was.

I completely forgot to clean up the mess I made last night. “Oh Crap!”

Realizing I said that out loud, my eyes travel from the floor up to mother’s face. Is that fire in her eyes?

It’s official, I’ll never have a good morning.

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A note from kosnik4

Thank you everyone who’s decided to support my writing, especially those of you who decided to donate more than a dollar. I took your notes about the status page and created a way to tidy it up while keeping it in line with the current story. I know some people weren’t fans about the nightmares so I won’t mention them again till they play another role in the story, I’ll leave it up to your imaginations. let me know what you think about the chapter below.

And as always, stay safe.


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About the author

kosnik4

Bio: Just love a good story.

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