Dad came home, had dinner, wished me luck on System Day, got out of his armor, and went directly to sleep. In that order. The last two items had occasionally been mixed up. Mom always made me rewash the sheets when it happened, and I’d quickly learned to intercept dad before he could sleep in his armor.

Washing sheets SUCKED.

Time was funny without clocks. Things weren’t done at a particular time, just “Around noon” “Before dark” “Right after sunrise”. After so long of not needing to deal with being exactly on time to things, it was easy to slide right into the new way of handling time. It did make starting important things – like System Day – a bit tricky, but such was the way of life.

I couldn’t figure out why my System clock was measured in hours – the same hours as on Earth – but nobody seemed to use hours, nor did I even know the name for it here! Learning the new language had been hard. I didn’t want to ask about time and hours and such – I could always let the reincarnated genie out of the bottle, but there was no putting it back. It wasn’t like I was keeping it a massive “don’t tell at any cost” secret, but I figured there was a time and a place for everything.

“Elaine. Sit.” Mom gestured to the chair, comb in hand. I happily scuttled up onto the recliner, where mom started to comb my hair. It was peaceful, relaxing, stroke after stroke getting my hair out and loose. A moment of peace. A moment of calm. A perfect mother-daughter moment.

“Excited?” Mom asked, getting a particularly difficult snarl out.

Yeah!” This was IT! This was the big day! “I can’t wait to try all of the things in the temple out! I want to know everything!”


Mom smiled. “Don’t get your hopes up too high, it’s fairly disappointing really.”

Learning about magic, disappointing? Yikes. I hope I didn’t have all the fun sucked out of me when I grew up. At long last. Growing up was taking me literally twice as long as the normal person, thankyouverymuch reincarnation.

Just as I’d started to taste the fun and joys of being an adult, ziiiiiip! Back to square one! If it hadn’t been for the trippy stars and gods nonsense, I would’ve sworn someone had it in for me!

But nooooooo. I’d been a clerical error! A typo!!

Hair finished up, I grabbed my sandals, and off we went! We left the house, looked both ways, and crossed over to the “grey zone” of the street. I frowned.

“Moooooom, can we not walk here? It’s System Day! I’m allowed to walk in the real street now!”

Mom gave me that half amused, half exasperated smile. “I don’t know, why don’t you tell me?”

I gave her my best angry-pout.

“Because I don’t have enough physical stats.” I recited as annoyingly as I could.

“That’s right. And when has ‘not being allowed’ ever stopped you or Lyra from anything, hmm?”

Oops. Good point.

I pouted as I was dragged along. I wanted to be on the real street, instead of the tiny grey zone. It was full of other kids, crates, and generally things pushed to the side. It seemed to be a universal law that bike lanes were treated poorly. I hated having to crawl over and around things, when I could be in the nice “white zone” instead, strolling through without a care in the world.

Out of the clear blue sky, a massive series of thunderbolts came down near the south gate, making me jump about a foot out of my skin.

What was that!?” I yelled, startled. Lightning bolts didn’t just come out of the clear blue sky. No way.

Not even in this world of MAGIC! Most of what I’d seen had been on the smaller end. Plates instantly cleaned. People working faster, hitting harder. I hadn’t seen any super-duper-cool magic like LIGHTNING BOLTS OUTTA NOWHERE!

But… maybe I had?

I wasn’t the only one who’d jumped. Multiple huge surprise lightning bolts tended to do that to people.

"Well, what do you think it was, Elaine?" Mom asked me with that annoying 'I'm trying to teach you something' tone of voice parents had.

I bit my lower lip and thought about it.

"A... Classer entering the city?" I asked.

Mom nodded.

"Very good. Why did he make some Lightning bolts?"

Oh! OH! I knew this one! Dad had told me!

"They ask mage Classers to discharge their mana before coming in!" I exclaimed, jumping one in my excitement. Dad was SUPER GUARD! He told me cool guard stuff like that!

And, and, someone could just flat-out summon Lightning bolts! That was MAGIC! YES!

A thought came to me.

“How can you tell how much mana someone has?”

“It’s usually safe to assume that mages have a lot of mana.” Mom said, and I wanted to roll my eyes.

DUH mages had mana!! What else would they have? Even with the great “don’t tell kids stuff” conspiracy going on, that seemed suuuuuuuuuper obvious to me.

“The guards have a rough idea of how much mana mages of a certain level should have. However, it’s something of a trust system. Mages show that they can follow the rules, so they’re let in.”

I guess?

We reached the end of the street, and turned left into the main street. You could see the town gate on one end, and the market at the center of town on the other. Well – you could see it if there weren’t food stands, vendors, two wagon-wide worth of lanes, and a massive crush of people in the way.

Magic was on display in hundreds of tiny ways. Shops had their flashing signs, food rotated on spits without anyone touching them, goods moved through the air by themselves, and a broken wagon was repaired by a passing man touching it.

Everyone had magic, usually small, and used it in their day to day life.

I’d seen the sight a THOUSAND times, and there were still a THOUSAND COOL THINGS TO SEE! Every day had something new and different!

“Mom Mom Mom look! They’re selling pitas! And a bard’s playing over on the corner! Can we go over and listen? Please? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?”

Mom rolled her eyes at me “You’re as distractible as always Elaine. Where are we going right now?”

“The temple!”

“And why are we going there?”


“SYSTEM DAY!!! Let’s go-go-go-go slowpoke”

She chuckled as I started pulling on her hand and arm, urging her forward. I knew she could run and go so much faster than this, why were we plodding along?

I suddenly stumbled and nearly fell over as a blast of wind hit me. Fortunately, mom was holding onto me, and kept me stable and up. My heart was pounding so loudly I could almost hear it. My palms felt like they were going to slip out of mom’s tight grasp.

Mom looked down at me with a hint of worry in her eyes.

“That was a courier. And that is why we’re still walking in the grey zone. You could barely stand the air blast of him running by – imagine if he hadn’t seen you in the crowd and ran into you at that speed? That would be bad.”

I imagined a large, rolling rock and a small, delicate mango in the way. Splat. Yeah no.

My heart was getting back down to a more reasonable rate.

“I’m never leaving the grey zone. Nuh uh. No way.” I swore.

I climbed up and over another crate while mom deftly weaved from the grey zone into the white zone and back again to avoid it. I could smell the marketplace, and now I could finally see it. It was a large, sprawling mess in the middle of town, with the Athahurst river pressed up against one side of it. Guards were patrolling around with their leather vests and metal batons, merchants were hawking their wares under covered stalls, shooting off impressive displays of magic to try and attract attention – pillars of flames, living sculptures of water, flashing light signs, and so much more. The usual army recruiter was shouting his pitch – “Join the legions today! Fight the Formorians! Service grants citizenship!” A large crowd of people moved throughout, going from stall to stall to do their daily shopping, find something nice, or just to chit-chat. The sky went dark, and everyone froze where they were, merchant to farmer, young to old, man and woman, looking to the sky. Street kids didn’t even take the chance of distraction to nick a purse or two – they were too busy looking up as well.

Just a crapton of pigeons. They were so shitty to have around. Literally, they pooped everywhere. There was a collective sigh, as the market resumed being as busy as a beehive.

The market was too narrow and too crowded for there to be grey zones, and it was somewhat dangerous for someone as small as I was for a reason. Fortunately, with the crowd, and everyone stopping and starting every three feet it was safe for me. It clearly wasn’t stopping some of the street kids I saw ducking and weaving about, looking for unguarded wares and purses. I eyed them suspiciously. Mom might not be paying too much attention, but I was. No sticky-fingered brat was getting mom’s pouch – and by extension, my lunch.

With supernatural agility mom worked her way through the crowd, and we reached the shores of the Athahurst. We ended up close to the south bridge, with a pair of surly guards stopping enterprising merchants from setting up on the bridge itself.

We started to cross the bridge when mom, twisting with unnatural finesse, punted a wind weasel that had been blowing towards us.

“Bloody pests,” she muttered, putting me back down. “What is the guard doing that there’s so many of them running around?”

“You should complain to dad that he is not doing his job.” I cheekily replied, only to get walloped over the head.

I rubbed my head, and waited until mom had turned before glaring at her.

Glaring over her shoulders at the bridge guards, muttering darkly under her breath, we continued marching over the bridge. This was exciting! System day! Some old men we wearing tunics of various hues of red and blue were fishing on the bridge.

“Hey mom! Can we go fishing here later!?” Trout and salmon and ok fine I didn’t actually know the names of any of the fish here. A fish was a fish. Yum Yum.

I got a sad smile back.

“No dear. Who’s allowed to fish here again?” My face fell at this.

“Citizens…” I muttered back, still glaring murder at the two fishermen. The JERKS were allowed to fish here and I wasn’t.

Mom, clearly seeing I was upset, tried to cheer me up. “Besides, the fishing here is pretty bad – there’s almost nothing in the river because of the grates.”

“It’s not fair that we’re not citizens! Dad should be a citizen, the army recruiter said they become citizens and he is a guard! I want to be a citizen!” I whined.

“Even if dad was a citizen…” Mom started, trailing off.

She knew me too well.

We weren’t allowed to be citizens. Ever since the day I’d learned that simply being born a girl made me a second class citizen, a roaring bonfire of rage and anger had been lit inside of me. It fueled me, drove me. No matter how many times I got punched and kicked, I leaned on that anger and always, always got back up.

Mom was always good with the patients who came to visit her, and could probably tell I was still upset.

“Look Elaine, while you can’t be a citizen, you could always marry one! It’s practically the same thing.”

The only thing that did was to stroke the fire inside of me, and make me mad again. Mom had told me that before, and it just didn’t help.

At all. I wasn’t going to marry no stinky boy just to get second-rate citizenship. Bah!

Calm, calm, I need to stay calm. I need to stay in control. I can’t just go flying off the handle, and the temple was practically in sight.

System Day. Mangos. Lyra. Magic. Happy thoughts.

As I was seeing red and taking some deep stabilizing breaths, we reached the end of the bridge and arrived in front of the temple. It was the largest building I had seen since I had been reborn, and looked like it had been a clone of a Greek temple, with large steps leading up to majestic marble pillars. I stopped and stared for a moment, taking it all in, before noticing a statue in front of the building. Flesh in marble, done by such a skilled [Sculptor] that he looked alive, a large lizard-like creature stood hunched forward on its hind legs, a jaw like a crocodile with a smile like one, claws made for rending and tearing, and a huge sail on its back.

We reverently bowed towards the statue of Etalix, the Storm. One of the guardian beasts. No idea what a guardian beast was or what they did, but I was taking no chances. Not with the gods being real, and seemingly taking an active interest in our day to day lives.

Until I had an answer, I wasn’t going to stop paying my respects to Etalix. Just in case.

Etalix, the Storm.

Etalix, the Spinosaurus.

There were freaking DINOSAURS here!

A note from Selkie

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