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A note from Kyfe

Thank you for giving my story a chance. Permissions from Selkie and permission still pending from Kosnik4 at time of publishing.

He had never been more comfortable in his life. A warm embrace encompassed his entire body as he lazily stretched and shifted about. He was in that strange state between sleep and awake. He was vaguely aware of his environment and the fact that he was dreaming, but he wasn't experiencing a lucid dream. He just let his thoughts wander.

He had slight recollections of existing as a mote of nothingness in an infinite void for an eternity, but despite his current situation being somewhat similar, things were vastly different. For one he could sense that he had an actual, flesh and blood body. He could somewhat wiggle his toes and fingers, and he was mildly aware of having a full body once again. This difference alone was magnitudes of levels of improvement over his previous situation. Being in a half-dream state, he wasn't able to fully utilize his new form, and the peaceful environment soon drew him back to his inner mind.

His dreams consisted of a pretty woman and two children. He had no idea who they were, or why they would be in his dreams, but he got a vague sense of peace and happiness with them around. Every now and then, the dream would shift to startling scenes of incomprehensible terror. He had no idea what was going on in those dreams, but he had the instinctual understanding of danger. In those moments, his body would tremble, and his limbs would flail about. No matter how hard he tried, though, he was unable to rouse himself from his sleep, and he could only wait until the more peaceful scenery returned. Luckily these particular dreams were much less prominent.

He had no idea how long he remained in that state. He was perfectly content with remaining that way for as long as possible, despite the fear of the nightmares. But all things must come to an end. Suddenly his entire world shook around him. The vague state of half-asleep, half-awake was broken, and he became fully awake. He felt himself getting tossed and turned in his little habitat, and muffled, confusing sounds could be heard coming from afar. No matter how he struggled, though, he was unable to open his eyes. There was something else there, just out of his ability to focus on that was another stark difference, but what it was eluded him.

The rough tossing and turning eventually turned into a rhythmic bouncing up and down, and despite the tempo of movement being much quicker than anything previously, the consistent motion threatened to lull him back into slumber. Something caught his eye. The difference that he couldn't quite identify came into perfect clarity, as even with his eyes closed, he could see something for the first time in so long.

At first he couldn't quite make sense of what he was seeing. A mild blue light was blinking in the periphery of his mind's eye vision. This simple little blue flashing light was more sensation than his mind had experienced in what felt like millennia, and it briefly threatened to overwhelm him.

He was finally able, after a small struggle, to bear his full attention on to the blinking light, and it suddenly shifted, no longer blinking and filling his vision entirely. He couldn't put into words what he was seeing and experiencing. Mainly because he couldn't put anything into words right now. This would have been worrying if he was able to realize it should have been worrying.

The blue light transformed into a transparent box with words filling it. Despite not being able to think in words currently, and having never seen any of the characters or symbols making up the words, he could perfectly understand what it was saying as if it was written in an instinctual, universal language.

Akashic Record detected
Scanning...
Detected premature awareness. System Initializing...
Abnormalities detected. Scanning...
Combat initiated. Scanning temporarily halted.
Due to perfect dependence, involuntarily joined Party
Party Members: Class: Status:
(Leader) Unknown Unknown Unknown
Unknown Unknown Unknown
Due to being unable to participate, experience gained is set to 0.
Defeated opponent. Experience gained 0
Defeated opponent. Experience gained 0
....
Combat resolved. Experience gained 1000.
Level Up!
Level Up!
Level Up!
Level Up!
Experience 0/500
Error! No Class detected. Abnormalities detected. Scanning resumed...

He read through the messages that had obviously appeared during the event that woke him up. The blue box had stopped updating on that last message, and as his attention shifted away from reading the messages, the blue box faded away and returned to being a little blue light in the periphery of his vision, though it no longer blinked.

He could perfectly understand what the words said, but that didn't mean he knew what it meant. He had vivid dreams and vague memories, but he was mostly a blank slate and all of the context for the memories was missing. He barely understood that there was a correlation between the message "Combat initiated" and the terrifying dreams with the flashing lights and vibrant colors of green and red.

He had every intention of contemplating what he had just seen in his mind's eye, but now that there was nothing taking up his attention, the rhythmic motions finally lulled him back to the state of half-dreaming.

 


 

He floated in the warm comfort for an indeterminate amount of time. Occasionally he would be slightly roused due to the movements and muffled noises that would sometimes interrupt his dreams, but he was never able to come fully awake again. He was resting comfortably, like he always did, when something started to bother him. Something had changed and it was drawing his awareness from the deep trance he was in. A blinking blue light finally invaded his focus and brought him once more into full wakefulness.

Scanning complete.
Order of operations: Resolve experience and Level gains.
No Class detected. Level forcibly remains at 0.
No precedent exists.
Seeking solution...
Bloodline detected. Experience siphoned to Bloodline.
New Ability Unlocked! Able to permanently siphon experience to enrich Bloodline. Experience cannot be siphoned enough to reduce Level.
Bloodline (Name: Unknown. Tier: Unknown): 1000/10,000,000 Exp

He didn't understand the numbers involved, but from the context, he could grasp the disparity involved. This was an absolutely ludicrous amount of experience required to affect his Bloodline.

All Stats +3
Strength: 3
Vitality: 4
Dexterity: 3
Intelligence: 13
Magic: 18
Clarity: 11
Perception 9
Charisma: 3
Luck: 3
Experience and Level gains resolved.
Order of Operations: Abnormalities detected
Past Experience detected.
Premature awareness in effect. Skills are acquired. Skills are set to 0. Skill Levels will accumulate faster until muscle memory matches past experience
New Skills Unlocked! *English (0), *Reading {English} (0), Penmanship (0), *Mathematics {Arabic Numerals} (0), *Economics (0), Piano (0), Drawing (0), Map Making (0), Running (0), Swimming (0), Athleticism (0), Balance (0), Acrobatics (0), Eavesdropping (1), Hiding (1), Sneaking (0), Stealth (1), *Rifles (0), Staves (0), *Bayonets (0), *Fencing (0), Pugilist (0), Evasion (0), Command (0), Inspire (0), *Tactics {Small Unit; Rifles} (0), *Strategy {Rifles; Combined Arms} (0), Dreams of the Past (10), Pain Resistance (0), Mental Fortitude (1)

The changes were subtle, but because of his unique situation, they were noticeable. As soon as this last message finished, he gained a certain instinctual understanding of what each of the Skills represented. Not only that, the few Skills that actually had a number had an immediate effect. He could detect slightly more muffled sounds coming from... somewhere, and he felt as if he integrated into his surrounding warmth more fluidly. Some of the memories from his vague dreams became more focused, and he was able to maintain his focus ever so slightly better. He would examine the memories some other time, as there were still more messages requiring his attention.

Past Experience resolved.
Abnormalities detected. Scanning...
Incompatible Skills detected. Modifying...
New Skills Unlocked! English (0) and Reading {English} (0) have become Linguistics (0), Mathematics {Arabic Numerals} (0) and Economics (0) have become Number Concepts (0), Rifles (0) has become Aim (0), Bayonets (0) has become Daggers (0), Fencing (0) has become Swords (0), Tactics {Small Unit; Rifles} (0) has become Tactics (0), Strategy {Rifles; Combined Arms} (0) has become Strategy (0).
Incompatible Skills resolved.
System Initialized.
Akashic Record (1) Skill level too low. Most functions disabled. Please reference Skill: Akashic Record (1) for more information.

With his new instincts activated, he became aware that he was able to interact with these blue boxes. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, or how he was supposed to go about doing so. He kept his focus on the blue box, knowing from his previous experience that it would disappear and he would inevitably fall asleep before he could do or think about anything more.

With zero prompts, and no knowledge of what he was doing, he did the only thing he could. He zeroed his focus in on different parts of the box to try and discern anything useful. Nothing happened, though, except he became intimately familiar with what it looked like. He changed tactics and started focusing on individual words listed. He moved his focus methodically from top to bottom, and once he finally reached the bottom and his inner gaze focused on the word "System," something new finally happened.

The message box he was looking at folded up on itself and moved back to being a tiny dot in his periphery. If he didn't go looking for it, he would never notice it without it signalling him by blinking. A new blue box popped up in his awareness.

System

Status
Class
Mana

The new box was simple, and of the new words presented, both "Class" and "Mana" were grayed out. Shifting his focus to these two words didn't do anything, so he focused on "Status." Once again, something new popped up.

Status
Name: <None> Class: <None> Age: <None>
Health: 40/40 Stamina: 70/70 Mana: 155
Level: 0 Experience 0/100
Physical Stats Mind Stats
Strength (STR) 3 Intelligence (INT) 13
Vitality (VIT) 4 Magic (MAG) 18
Dexterity (DEX) 3 Clarity (CLA) 11
Charisma (CHA) 3 Perception (PER) 9
Luck (LUK) 3
Primary Class Skills: None
None
None
None
None
Secondary Class Skills: None
None
None
Tertiary Class Skills: None
None
Skills
Acrobatics (0), Aim (0), Akashic Record (1), Athleticism (0), Balance (0), Command (0), Daggers (0), Drawing (0), Dreams of the Past (10), Eavesdropping (1), Evasion (0), Hiding (1), Inspire (0), Linguistics (0), Map Making (0), Mental Fortitude (1), Number Concepts (0), Pain Resistance (0), Penmanship (0), Piano (0), Pugilist (0), Running (0), Sneaking (0), Staves (0), Stealth (1), Strategy (0), Swimming (0), Swords (0), Tactics (0)

This new box appeared to be a summary of all of the information he had previously seen while reading through the messages. It was all neatly packaged together in a convenient way, and if his guess was correct, could be accessed at any time. He wasn't quite ready to confirm his suspicions, though, because if he was wrong, then he would probably fall asleep before he could figure it out.

He continued with his methodical scan of this new Status page. He didn't leave any nook or cranny from his direct, intent focus. As he scanned over the last word in his Skills section, the blue dot re-emerged on its own with a brand new message.

New Skill Unlocked! Observation (1)

He felt his ability to focus ever so slightly enhance, though there wasn't much functionality towards this at the present moment. He instinctively understood that his current circumstances wouldn't last forever, but he had no idea when that would be, or even how he knew that. He was confident this new skill, along with all of the others, would play a role at that time.

After he dismissed the message box back to its hiding spot, he contemplated on the last message before opening his Status. His thoughts turned towards the Akashic Record, and he attempted to glean any more information from it. Nothing happened over a long period of time staring at the words. He needed to try something different. It took a mental struggle, but he eventually sent a force of will to the skill, almost like saying the word in his head, but without actually articulating the word as that feat was still beyond him. Plus he didn't know the actual words, he only had available the instinctual, universal language, but it was beyond mortal comprehension how to speak it.

Once he performed the mental equivalent of whispering, a new box appeared before him.

Skill: Akashic Record (1)
Tier: 6 (Unable to Level through traditional methods)
Provides more information directly through the System Interface, and occasionally provides Helpful Hints
Details...
Helpful Hint: The presence of the Akashic Record and full awareness are the only reasons the System was able to be accessed ahead of time. It is also why information on what the System was doing was being provided. Typically all System functions are performed without knowledge.

That was interesting. So he would have been jarred awake because of the commotion no matter what, but if he didn't have the Akashic Record, then nothing else would have happened, and he would have immediately gone back to sleep and remained that way. He used his willpower to focus on "Details."

Details
The Akashic Record is formed from Ascended beings, and is made available to those who have a connection with them. A higher Skill Level is required to access more information. Due to being a generated Skill, unable to increase Level through traditional means.

He wasn't entirely sure what that information meant, but he was pretty confident he wasn't going to find out any time soon. He continued his previous observations of his Status window, but this time with the intention of delving deeper into each part that he could. It provided him with a long list of information to digest.

[Name: The name of the one using the System Interface. Set to <None> as no name has been provided. A higher Skill Level is required.]
[Class: The class the one using the System Interface has acquired. Set to <None> as no class has been acquired. A higher Skill Level is required.]
[Age: The age, based on the date of birth, of the one using the System Interface. Set to <None> as there is no date of birth.]

That was interesting. He had yet to be born, which made a lot of things make more sense to him.

Health: Derivative of Vitality. A higher Skill Level is required.
Stamina: Derivative of Strength and Vitality. A higher Skill Level is required.
Mana: Derivative of Intelligence and Magic. A higher Skill Level is required.
Level: The accumulation of experience reaching certain thresholds. A higher Skill Level is required.
Experience: A numerical value associated with energy. A higher Skill Level is required.
Strength (STR): A numerical representation of how strong one is. A higher Skill Level is required.
Vitality (VIT): A numerical representation of how healthy one is. A higher Skill Level is required.
Dexterity (DEX): A numerical representation of how nimble, coordinated, and quick one is. A higher Skill Level is required.
Charisma (CHA): A numerical representation of how good one appears or comes across to others. A higher Skill Level is required.
Intelligence (INT): A higher Skill Level is required.
Helpful Hint: INT does not necessarily represent how smart someone is, though it also doesn't necessarily not not represent how smart someone is.

That hint wasn't helpful at all.

Magic (MAG): A higher Skill Level is required.
Helpful Hint: Spooky action at a distance!

...

Clarity (CLA): A numerical representation of computation speed. A higher Skill Level is required.
Perception (PER): A numerical representation of how aware someone is. A higher Skill Level is required.
Luck (LUK): You're Lucky to have this. A higher Skill Level is required.

 

Helpful Hint: A low LUK Stat does not mean one is unlucky.
Class Skills: Active Skills provided by a Class that are otherwise unobtainable. A higher Skill Level is required.

He had as much of an understanding of the System as he was currently able to have without any outside instruction. One good thing about being so meticulous:

Skill Level Up! Observation (1 -> 2)
Helpful Hint: Providing a notification of a Skill Level Up is a function of the Akashic Record. One can turn this notification on and off at will.

Correction: Now he was as understanding as he was going to be able to get. He decided to not mess with the Akashic Record functionality at this time. His mind was over stressed from all of the new information he acquired, as well as the previous new bevy of Skills. He dismissed all of the blue boxes with a thought, and he let himself drift towards sleep once more. As he was drifting off, another new prompt momentarily caught his attention, and he felt his mind refresh just enough that he could read it before descending into blissful dreams.

Skill Level Up! Mental Fortitude (1 -> 2)

 


 

Something was tickling him. No, that wasn't the right word for it. Something was making him itch. That wasn't right either. There was something touching him, giving him a new sensation he had never personally experienced, nor dreamed about. He surfaced from his dream state, but there wasn't anything anymore. It definitely wasn't from the dream, the sensation had been too strange. Too alien.

He couldn't grasp that feeling again, no matter how hard he tried. Maybe he needed to do something different again. What was the opposite of intensely searching for something? He tried to relax his mind as much as possible without falling asleep. It seemed like nothing was going to happen, as his awareness slowly started to fade, but then suddenly the sensation was back. He tried to latch onto it, but it slipped through his proverbial fingers and disappeared again. He decided to be more patient next time.

Again, when his awareness started to transition into sleep, that feeling came back once again. Instead of trying to grasp ahold, mentally speaking, to the sensation, he remained relaxed and simply switched his focus to the sensation. It was like a small animal, being startled at the slightest hint of movement, once again disappearing. Feeling a little frustrated, he had nothing to do but try again.

And again.

And again.

Slowly, he started getting more sensitive to the sensation, but just as he felt like he was going to make a breakthrough and discover what it was, the sensation stopped entirely. Muffled sounds could be heard once again. Accompanying these sounds was the sensation of vibration. Putting two and two together, he figured that the accompanying vibrations meant it was his mother talking. He could almost make out some syllables. After the conversation ended, he retracted his focus. He checked his notifications before once again drifting off.

Skill Level Up! Observation (2 -> 3)
Skill Level Up! Eavesdropping (1 -> 2)

 


 

It wasn't long before the sensation was back again. Almost no time had seemed to pass as far as he could tell. Instead of becoming fully awake to wrestle with this sensation again, he instead kept his focus on himself and attempted to pay attention to the sensation indirectly from within himself. He observed how it moved in a pattern down his body. It was like waves of rings starting from the crown of his head and moving all the way down his body to the soles of his feet.

It feels like a rainbow sliding across my skin. And with that thought, a new notification popped up.

New Skill Unlocked! Sense Mana (1)

The notification brought him into wakefulness, and with the new Skill unlocked, he could maintain his awareness of the sensation. He could sense a very strong current of mana coursing all around him like it was travelling through pipes in a complex pattern. When the mana travelled through his domain inside the uterus, it was like one of the pipes had a leak, and a small, infinitesimal drop would drip down and splash on top of his head. It didn't do anything to him other than travel along the outer bounds of his body.

Since this mana was inside his mother, he wondered if he could ingest this small drop, too. He didn't really know how he was going to achieve such a feat, but he decided on a course of action and decisively carried it out. When a mana drop rolled down his head, he inhaled it as it crossed his face. Inhale isn't exactly the right word to use, but that's basically what he did to the mana.

An explosion of energy rippled through him. He started shaking uncontrollably. It wasn't painful or even uncomfortable. It was just incredibly more energy than he had ever had access to, and he had nothing to do with it. He was more wide awake than he had ever been. Moreso even than any of his memories that were filled with adrenaline and caffeine. Granted he had a much smaller body, but still.

The intense feeling of uncontainable energy quickly fled as the mana drop seemed to melt into nothingness. As soon as it was gone, a notification popped up. Heh, got it in one this time.

[New Skill Unlocked! Mana Absorption (1)]
[Exp +1]
[Experience 1/100]

That was new. So far unlocking and levelling up skills didn't provide any experience. The only experience he had obtained to date was from surviving a combat situation he was entirely passive through.

So is Experience a manifestation of mana? But then where did the 1,000 Exp come from during the combat?

More revelations lead to more questions. He decided to practice his Mana Absorption a few more times while he was still awake. The feeling of energy remained the same, but it became easier to handle it without his body going into mini convulsions, and when the energy was gone, he didn't come down from it, he remained at his baseline. Mental fatigue was still accumulating normally, however, and he eventually needed to go back to sleep.

Skill Level Up! Sense Mana (1 -> 2)
Skill Level Up! Mana Absorption (1 -> 2)
Skill Level Up! Mental Fortitude (2 ->3)
Skill Level Up! Stealth (1 ->2)
Exp +3
Experience 4/100

The last thought that passed through his mind before dreams encroached was, Huh? Stealth? and then his awareness left him.

The cycle continued. He would sleep and dream of a past life, certain details becoming more clear the more he dreamed. Sometimes he would thrash about as his dreams turned into nightmares of hellscapes filled with death and dismemberment. Many of them started out innocuous until death rained down from somewhere, often times without even being able to see who was attacking him. Then the mana would come, and he would watch it and practice absorbing it all while listening for any sounds to pick up from the outside.

His Skills continued to increase in level, and with those increases he noticed subtle increases in their efficiency. The increases started to take longer and longer to acquire, but it was the only thing he had to do when he was awake, and it was entertaining enough in its own right. There was something about seeing a notification of a Skill levelling up after working at it that was just so satisfying. He could get addicted to the feeling.

He had absolutely no idea how long he was in his mother's womb from when he first became aware. He didn't know what stage of development he was at, but it felt like a significant portion of time had elapsed. It appeared that it was finally upon him for him to re-enter the world. There were many changes to his environment, lately. His mother seemed to be going through something, and her body was changing around him.

Gravity seemed to reverse as he found himself upside down. The pressure in the womb had significantly changed, and mana was coalescing above him, obviously under the control of his mother. He took one final look at his most recent messages while he had the chance, his heartbeat increasing as anticipation for the future filled him.

Skills Levelled Up! Sense Mana (2 -> 6)
Mana Absorption (2 -> 6)
Mental Fortitude (3 -> 4)
Stealth (2 -> 3)
Observation (3 -> 5)
Eavesdropping (2 -> 3)
Dreams of the Past (10 -> 11)
Exp +16
Experience 20/100

He didn't know how long he hung upside down, but suddenly the mana coalescing above him descended and wrapped him up in a tight cocoon. It provided protection from the great amount of pressure that descended upon him to force him towards a never before seen exit. As he passed through the birth canal, the mana that had enveloped him remained within his mother, peeling off like a glove. It set about to healing the damage in his mother caused by his passage.

Large hands grasped him and cradled his head and neck while assisting in pulling him forth. The new sensation of the lack of warmth, the light, ambient air and wind, and the cacophony of noises overwhelmed his senses and his body reacted all on its own, doing the one thing that came natural to all babies. He started to wail.

Great, big screams completely unexpected from such a tiny creature filled the room. He couldn't even open his eyes, but he felt himself getting washed off and toweled dry, which was extremely uncomfortable to his sensitive skin. But he soon found himself surrounded by that familiar warmth, as arms cradled him in their embrace with "shushing" noises coming from above. He was finally able to regain a little bit of control, but gaining that control ended his tantrum, and when his tantrum was over, exhaustion set in. He got a quick glimpse at the woman who had carried him to term and birthed him, and then there was darkness. No dreams or nightmares invaded his mind, as he descended straight past half-awake, half-asleep and entered into true deep sleep for the first time.

He was alive.

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Kyfe

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