Civil wars are naturally horrible. With all of the normal pain of war mixed with the worst of family fighting and all of it taking place on home soil. No matter who wins, everyone suffers. But this world of Classes and Skills exacerbates this.
I had always found stealth in games to be amusing. A half-human, half-robot, cyborg hiding behind a barrel barely big enough for him to crouch behind? Yeah, anyone would spot something that out of place in a second. And if a security guards sees a crouchy man running around, they aren't going to wander over dumbly to allow you to knock them out. No, they would probably radio their boss and then carefully check. Even if you knock them out then, the game would be up because they would know you were there when the guard doesn’t call in again. And I often wondered how much people had really thought about how noisy choking someone out would be. Not that I ever had the chance to try it, but I don’t need to actually do something to realise it wouldn’t work in reality.
But the System makes a mockery of reality. Low level [Rogue]s were hardly an issue, but higher level [Spy]s and [Saboteur]s were far more tricky. A high level [Saboteur] who had evolved into an [Arsonist] could use flint and steel in a random corner of a building and have an entire city block in flames within five minutes. A high level [Spy] might be literally invisible, or worse, unnoticeable.
Kallay was the only port in rebel hands, and it was an important point in the rebel supply lines. In fact, as winter had set in, it had become the most important part of those supply lines. Which brought it, and House Felius, into the crosshairs of the Royalists.
A high level [Assassin] after Cat might only give me a second or two to intercept them before they strike, their Skills masking their approach until they are in position. Or they might be far away with a bow and arrow, with only the slight whisper of the arrow as a warning. Or maybe they are only there to distract the [Guard]s and myself while their compatriots burn down a granary or pillage a warehouse.
It was unending, and I was exhausted. I was kept moving out of anger for what had happened to my family, fear for what might happen to Cat, and pure determination to do my job.
It was a frigid day, with a blizzard buffeting the city, when our paths crossed again. I had been tipped off to a ring of traitors in the city, and I planned to crash it with the [Guard]s at my back. I was through the second floor window of the warehouse and into the rafters without making a sound, moving quickly towards the circle of shadowy figures talking in hushed voices.
I strained my ears, trying to listen in. We’d try to take some of them prisoner and interrogate them, but I might learn something more or faster if I listen. Except, I immediately became distracted - one of the voices seemed familiar… The [Guard]s smashed in the doors, and the figures immediately turned to face them.
I dropped down in the confusion, planning to take advantage to take down as many as I could from behind. [Instant Movement] allowed me to touch down on the floor in an instant, and I immediately moved to strike, lunging forward towards the back of one of the men.
Only to be intercepted! My knife struck against the blade of one of the cloaked men who had moved to cover his ally. With a scowl, I moved, attempting to overwhelm him with speed and he matched me, even when I began to combine my Skills! He must be high level…
“You. Girl,” his voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. “You seem quite familiar, do I know you from somewhere?”
“You sound familiar to me as well,” I answer, hoping that the [Guard]s will kill and scatter the others while I distract the high level enemy. “Perhaps we have met, although I generally remember the [Rogue]s I run into.”
“As fun as it might be for us to sit here until we remember each other, you have been a real thorn in our side for some time,” he shifted his weight and tightened his grip on his short sword. “And it occurs to me that if you are here, you aren’t with the [Lady] Catherine Felius.”
“Don’t you dare-” I started, but he blurred away. I swore and pursued. Cat had other [Guard]s and [Bodyguard]s, but it was true that I was her best. My level was relatively high and the quality of my Class allowed me to fight above my level especially when I combined my Skills. And of course, I never fought fair, always fighting with [Guard]s and [Soldier]s at my side.
Now I was sprinting through the city, just barely behind what I was assuming to be a high level [Assassin]. When he turned a corner and I followed, I had almost no time to react when he had suddenly turned around and attacked. I blocked the blade, but the force threw me into a wall and he slammed me into it again before I could dodge. I was straining to prevent his blade from my stomach, my hand on his wrist.
“I remember who you are now!” He didn’t sound like our scuffle was taking him much effort, instead he sounded delighted. “It has been more than a decade since we last met!”
His face was covered by shadow and darkness, but the tilt of his hood made me think he was looking me up and down as he chuckled, “You sure grew up nicely!”
Of course, that hint was all I needed to remember my Kidnapper. Was he this strong a decade ago? No, of course he leveled in the meantime, but this is my chance to get rid of him for good! I found myself showing my teeth in some combination of smiling and snarling.
“I am going to kill you,” I spat out. “If you give up I’ll make it quick.”
That was a lie. He deserved to die, and after the death of my parents and months of attacks on my best friend, I didn’t have a lot of kindness left in me. Just fury and hate.
“Haha, like I am going to do that. Let’s see if you can catch me first!” He slugged me across the face and then sped off again. I staggered and ran after him; he was still heading towards House Felius!
We ran and he began to pull away; he was faster than I was! But I wasn’t about to let him hurt her, and I had more tricks up my sleeve. I spammed [Instant Movement], the stamina drain hitting me like a truck as I used it to teleport in short leaps one after the other. Each place I touched, I used [Expert Cleaning] and [Work Is Never Done] to regain just the slightest bit of energy.
With how exhausting this is, I will only have one chance. I catch up and he turns on a dime, charging at me. It surprises me, but it doesn’t matter, as I focus my [Instant Movement] into my hand. I had spent hours doing handstands and hand walking just to trick my Skill to work in a moment like this - my knife teleported out of my hand and into his eye, giving him only a fraction of a second to show his surprise.
Our momentum carries us forward into crashing together, and his larger mass throws me backwards as something sharp cuts through my stomach. We both hit the ground, and my Kidnapper doesn’t move again. He is dead.
I, on the other hand, find myself once again on the ground, bleeding out on the street. It was hard to breathe, but I didn’t want to die yet! I at least wanted to say goodbye to Cat, but the winter cold seeped in and I was so tired.
I closed my eyes...
I opened my eyes again, seeing a smooth white ceiling. A mix of emotions flooded me then. Anger, satisfaction, sadness, and relief. I had gotten my revenge on that bastard, and unlike me he probably wasn’t coming back. However, I would never see Cat again. I had a life that seemed ok, and then it all went up in smoke and I would never get a chance to put it back together again.
And relief, because even though I died, I didn’t end. I had returned to this room, where I curled up on the marble slab and cried. I don’t know how long I cried, but I eventually stopped. There was something about this place, I think. Something that suppressed my emotions. It didn’t get rid of them, but merely reduced them until I was functional.
I was angry about that; angry that I couldn’t even properly grieve, but I wasn’t able to get very mad over it. Instead, I got up and read the box in front of me.
“[Welcome back Cadence Lee, and congratulations on completing your second life!]”
“You know, saying ‘welcome’ in this situation is kind of disgusting.” I said, hating this feeling of being on the edge of overwhelming grief but being unable to be as sad as I should be. “In fact, saying ‘welcome’ when being in this room means I died - would it matter how I died? ‘Welcome’ is probably inappropriate under almost all circumstances.”
“[Please step up to the podium and have your life be measured!]”
I walked up to the podium saying, “Hello again Podi. Even if this room is making me feel strange, I am slightly glad to see you again. Even if I am just anthropomorphising a stone.”
I place my palm in the silver outline of a hand on top of the podium.
“[Calculating your life accomplishments…]
You survived sixteen years! For surviving sixteen years you have earned sixteen points!
You took part in being professionally trained in a trade! For going through eight years of professional training, you have earned two points!
You defeated multiple enemies! For killing twenty six humans, you have gained twenty six points!
You defeated multiple enemies above your level! For killing seven humans above your level, you have earned fourteen points!
You gained two Classes! For gaining two Classes you have earned two points!
You gained two Advanced Classes! For gaining two Advanced Classes you have earned four points!
You gained fourteen levels! For gaining fourteen levels you have gained fourteen points!
You have learned twenty seven Skills! For learning twenty seven Skills you have earned twenty seven points!
Your point total for this life is: 105
Your grade for this life is: F
For obtaining a grade of F, you have received a Strike!
If you obtain three Strikes you will no longer be reincarnated!
You have Beginner’s Protection; one Strike Removed!
Your Beginner’s Protection will last: two more lives”
Yeah, I feel like I failed too. There must have been something else I could have done… I hope Cat will be ok, and I never did find out if my brother survived. What could I have done better? Does it even matter? I can never go back…
“[Congratulations Incarnator! You have earned multiple Achievements!]
For killing a sapient who killed you, you have earned the Achievement “I’m Taking You With Me” and earned four points! You have unlocked additional options in the Defense tab!
For killing a sapient for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Killer” and earned one point! You have unlocked the Attack tab in the store!
For killing a sapient much stronger than you for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Giant Killer” and earned two points! You have unlocked additional options in the Attack tab!
For killing ten sapients for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Bloody Hands” and earned two points! You have unlocked additional options in the Attack tab!
For earning a Class for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Classy” and earned one point! -option unlock prevented until additional prerequisites are met-
For earning an Advanced Class for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Extra Classy” and earned two points! -option unlock prevented until additional prerequisites are met-
For learning how to perform basic cleaning professionally for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Spit Shine” and earned one point! You have unlocked additional options in the General tab!
For learning how to use knives at a basic level for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Stabby” and earned one point! You have unlocked additional options in the Attack tab!
For being kidnapped for the first time, you have earned the Achievement “Grabbed” and earned one point! You have unlocked additional options in the Defense tab!
For living a life without any sexual interaction, you have earned the Achievement “Celibate” and earned one point! You have unlocked additional options in the Communications tab!
[Calculating Achievement total…]
Your points earned from Achievements is: sixteen points!
Recalculating your Life Accomplishments…
Your point total is: one hundred twenty one points!
Your grade for this life is: F
For obtaining a grade of F you have not earned a bonus.”
I have noticed that while my emotions are somewhat suppressed right now, it doesn’t seem like any of my emotions are added to. So while I am not too sad to move right now, I can’t bring myself to care about what I am seeing. I suppose I had done better before Achievements, if that matters, but as a commoner I didn’t really have nearly as many opportunities as Annora as I had in my first life.
“[Would you like to access the Incarnator Menu now?]”
“Sure Podi,” I sigh. “I just want to get this over with. At least I will be able to feel my emotions when I leave.”
Points Balance: 128
Strength: 0 (+)
Endurance: 0 (+)
Vitality: 6 (+)
Agility: 0 (+)
Dexterity: 0 (+)
Perception: 0 (+)
Acuity: 6 (+)
Willpower: 0 (+)
Charisma: 7 (+)
Magic: 0 (+)
Luck: 0 (+)
[Attack] [Arts] [Communications] [Defense] [General]
[Intelligence] [Magic] [Relationships] [Vitals]
[Life Records] [Ability List] [Achievement List]
“Just show me the new ones Podi, I don’t want to bother with the whole list.”
“[Attack] Abilities Tab:
[Killing Blow]: When attacking a sapient with intent to kill you have 5% increased Strength and Agility! (50 points)
[Fast Hands: Knives]: When using knives your Agility, Dexterity, and Acuity are increased by 15%! (200 points)
[Rise To The Challenge]: When fighting an opponent stronger than you any Stat below your opponents can increase up to 10%. The amount of the increase is dependent on the difference in power between you and your opponent; this Skill cannot raise a Stat above your opponents. (250 points)
[Communications] Abilities Tab:
[Purity]: So long as you do not engage in a sexual act, you are more resistant to poison and disease. (100 points)
[Defense] Abilities Tab:
[Dead Weight]: When resisting a kidnapping attempt, your weight feels double to your kidnapper and you are harder to hold on to. (100 points)
[Death Curse]: If you are killed, this ability permanently reduces your killer’s Luck by 100. (1000 points)
[General] Abilities Tab:
[Fast Hands: Cleaning]: When cleaning your Strength, Endurance, Agility, and Dexterity are increased by 10%! (150 points)”
“Honestly…? I just can’t care Podi, just divide up my points evenly across all of my Stats,” I sound listless, maybe depressed. I’d like to sleep, but I don’t think I can here. “And just throw the extra into Strength, why not?”
My points went down to eight and all my Stats went up by one. So I had eight Charisma, seven Vitality and Acuity, as well as two in Strength and one in all the rest.
“Get me out of here Podi, I just can’t be here right now.”
“[Begining Reincarnation. You currently are only allowed to Reincarnate into worlds with a ‘system.’ World found. May your life be glorious, Incarnator.]”
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Hello! I am Vladerag the author of several stories here on Royal Road! I hope you are enjoying whatever you are reading, and I hope you check out some of my stories!
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