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A note from Kyfe

This chapter is in the process of being rewritten.

"System?" Reivyn asked. He looked at his mom with wondering eyes. He had learned the language, and even gained a few more levels in it since its acquisition, but he still couldn't articulate anything complicated. He would just prompt his mother along the lines of any questions he had and expect her to answer them to the best of her ability.

"That's right. Did a <unintelligible> box pop up in front of you?"

"Mhm," he nodded in reply.

"That was the notification box (he didn't understand the word at first, but context helped him figure it out) of the System. We have the Akashic Record, which is most likely what just notified you, so our System becomes available much earlier than most people. For everyone without the Akashic Record, the System becomes available at the age of 5 years old. Are you following along so far?"

"Yes, mommy!"

"Great," she replied with a smile and pinch of his cheek. "The System doesn't have much function to children. The only things available for now are looking at your Status and Skills. You should already have one or two skills, most likely Haman is one of them for you to be able to speak and listen at such a young age. Skills are acquired and improved even without the System, but you can't look at them until it's open. How many skills do you have, Honey?"

Reivyn quickly looked over his Skills on his Status page. He discounted all of the Skills that were Level 0, because he only had an instinctual understanding of what they were, but he didn't actually have the Skills yet.

Skills:
Acrobatics (0), Aim (0), Akashic Record (1), Athleticism (0), Balance (2), Command (0), Daggers (0), Drawing (0), Dreams of the Past (11), Eavesdropping (7), Evasion (2), Haman (4), Hiding (2), Inspire (0), Linguistics (4), Mana Absorption (21), Map Making (0), Mental Fortitude (6), Numbers Concepts (0), Observation (9), Pain Resistance (0), Penmanship (0), Piano (0), Pugilist (6), Running (0), Sense Mana (23), Sneaking (3), Staves (0), Stealth (4), Strategy (0), Swimming (0), Swords (0), Tactics (0)

Reivyn started counting off his Skills with a level to them with his fingers. He quickly reached all of his fingers, and he didn't know what to do. He looked down at his fingers, looked up at his box, looked down at his fingers, and then looked up at his mom for help. Ameliyn stood there in shock.

"Are you sure? Do you mean this many?" She held out one hand with all of her fingers splayed out. Reivyn looked at her hand and shook his head. "So you have this many?" She held out her other hand. He looked at both of her hands and thought about it for a moment, before shaking his head again.

"No."

"Ok. You have ten fingers. Put your fingers back down, and how many more Skills do you have after that?" Reivyn seemed to understand what she was talking about, so he put his fingers down and resumed counting again. He held up one hand with all fingers splayed out.

"This many."

"Ok. You have five fingers on one hand, so ten fingers plus five fingers is fifteen," she seemed a little lost as she said the ridiculous number out loud.

Skill Level Up! Numbers Concepts (0 ->1)

Reivyn saw the new notification, and he held up one more finger on his other hand. Ameliyn cocked her head at Reivyn.

"Did you count wrong?"

"No, I got a new one."

Ameliyn face-palmed. "I just... I don't... What is happening?" She seemed to be suffering from a mild mental breakdown. Reivyn was obedient and let his mother work through her thoughts on her own in peace. His father holding him, a look of disbelief on his face, was relegated to a statue in the background. His mother finally appeared to gain control of her emotions.

"Sixteen. You have sixteen Skills! You're not even a year old!"

"A lot?" Reivyn asked, confusion and worry on his face. Have I done something wrong?

"Yes, it's a lot. For your age. In the grand scheme of things, it's not much. You can expect to get a lot more Skills as you get older," she replied offhandedly. "Anyway, that's not the point! Back on topic, what are the Skills, if you know how to say them."

"Umm... Akashic Record," Ameliyn nodded her head. Of course he had that Skill, they had just mentioned it. "Umm..." Reivyn held out his hands with the fingers splayed again, and he shook them to get her to notice them.

"Counting?" Her brow was drawn down in confusion. Reivyn looked up and to the right in a cute manner as he thought about the word, and then he shook his head. "Numbers?"

"Yes!" He enthusiastically nodded his head. That wasn't the full name of the Skill, but it was close enough.

"Hmmm... Numbers. Should be Numbers Concepts," she remarked with a questioning look. He nodded his head again. "Ok, continue, please."

"Umm... Listen from far away."

"Eavesdropping."

"Walk," Reivyn swayed his shoulders side to side as he said the word.

"Balance?" He nodded in affirmation.

"Look."

"Observation," she supplied.

"Feel," Reivyn waved his arms towards himself, and then patted his body down to try and convey his message.

"Feel?"

"Uh huh. Everywhere. In the air," he waved his arms about in a circular motion, then brought them to himself and patted his body all over.

"Oh! Mana. Sense Mana," she exclaimed in surprise. Her eyebrows raised practically to the roof at this particular revelation. "Ok, that's enough for now. We can always go over more Skills later, but for now we need to focus on this one"

Refix finally suffered too big of a shock, and this one actually, ironically brought him out of his fugue state of mind. He signalled towards the couch in the living area, and walked over to sit down across from Ameliyn, holding Reivyn sitting up in his lap.

"This is... I don't know what to say," Refix gently shook his head as he sat there.

"I know what you mean," Ameliyn reached over and briefly touched his knee. "Ok. Regarding Sense Mana. It is very unlikely, unusual, that you would have that Skill. It is incredibly difficult to sense mana in the environment, especially when its concentration is as low as it is here. One typically needs a teacher and careful guidance for months to acquire this Skill." Reivyn got a look of panic on his face as he wondered again if he had done something wrong. Ameliyn noticed his expression and quickly comforted him. "No, no. This is a good thing! We won't have to look for a teacher for you who specializes in helping people unlock this Skill. While I and your father both have this Skill, as well, we are not teachers and it would be hard for us to impart this Skill to you without the assistance of the Teaching Skill."

"Physical Skills are much easier for one to teach another, as most of the work is done with the body, and can easily be shown," Ref contributed. "Mind Skills are more abstract, and without an easily seen or experienced example, it's much harder to explain, even for a master. We'll be able to help you develop your physical Skills when you get older, and while we'll be able to explain some of the mental Skills that we have, it will be based almost entirely on how well you understand and acquire those Skills. We can get you a tutor for the more mundane skills, but anything involving mana will require a teacher who has the Teaching Skill and the mana Skills they would impart. There is no school in our city that has such teachers, but they do exist." Ameliyn nodded along with his explanations.

"Since you have the Skill, I'm sure you've noticed that mana is all around us. It's everywhere and in everything. Different concentrations of mana also vary and have different effects. Not only in the air around us, but in people and things. Animals with large concentrations of mana are usually referred to as beasts, though domesticated animals are not. Mana is all around us, but do you know what it is?" She obviously didn't expect Reivyn to know what it was. Most people, even experts in mana, wouldn't tell you they knew exactly what it was. She was just prompting her son to think about it before she revealed the information she understood.

"Makes happy! Makes me go vrooooom," Reivyn wiggled his body to try and get his point across.

"Energy?" Ameliyn queried. When Reivyn excitedly nodded his head in agreement, she continued, "That's right! Mana is a form of energy. Nobody knows exactly where it comes from, or exactly what it is. There are theories, but those aren't necessary right now. All you need to know, for now, is that mana is an inexhaustible source of energy in the world. Your mana levels inside you are based on your Stats, which you can find on your Status page. I'll let you explore that on your own before I give you an explanation, but basically it's determined by your INT plus MAG Stats, and then half of that. In addition to your personal mana stores, there are different ways to access and utilize mana."

"Mmm. Eat! Breathe," Reivyn wafted his hand in front of his face. Ameliyn was once again taken aback.

"You can inhale mana?" She carefully asked.

"Mhm," Reivyn felt like his head would bobble off with all of the nodding he was doing. Ameliyn clapped her hands together and smiled.

"You have the Mana Absorption Skill?" At his continued nodding, she smiled and continued, "That Skill is even more difficult to acquire. You're just full of surprises," she chuckled. "Yes, Mana Absorption is a way of utilizing your non-personal mana stores. It has many different uses. It can replenish your depleted mana stores more quickly than passively recovering. You can get a boost of energy. You can convert it into Experience; more on that later. But the real bread and butter of this Skill is to use it in conjunction with another Skill, Mana Circulation. You don't happen to have that Skill, do you?" She asked with equal parts expectation that he might and conviction that he didn't.

"No," he looked down and shook his head.

"That's alright. I didn't think you had even Sense Mana, much less a more advanced Skill like Mana Circulation; again, more on advanced Skills later. Anyway, where was I. Oh, yes, using Mana Absorption with Mana Circulation. Mana Circulation is taking your own mana and circulating it throughout your body via your meridians. This itself has different uses that we can get into later, but for this example it basically purifies your mana stores. Different methods of circulation have different degrees of efficiency, and Mana Absorption allows you to keep up the circulation for longer periods of time. There are many different levels of purification for mana, all the way from Muddy Gas to Clear Liquid. Higher forms of mana usage requires higher forms of purified mana, and it will take many years of constant Mana Circulation to achieve those levels, especially if your mana stores are very large. If one couldn't absorb more mana while circulating their stores, it would take a lifetime to achieve any level of meaningful progress."

This was a lot of information for Reivyn to take in, and now he had a goal of figuring out Mana Circulation. He remembered the Mana Highway, as he thought of it, from when he was still in the womb, and he realized that he had been observing his mother circulating her mana along her meridians. If his mother didn't have her own mana, and didn't circulate it, he never would have gained the Sense Mana and Mana Absorption Skills when he did.

"Wow, I got really sidetracked with this discussion on mana. I meant to be giving you a primer on the System," Ameliyn smacked herself in the forehead. "But this is important: While mana Skills aren't as rare as you might think, and everyone has at least a little bit of mana, it is extremely unusual for someone your age to have these Skills. Don't tell anyone else about it. Don't even talk about it to anyone else. I know you spend all day with only your father and I, but that won't always be the case. Skills, typically, are a private thing that you only share with your immediate family members, and then not always all of them. That being said, don't feel like you need to hide anything from me or your father. We'll be able to guide you and teach you the best if we know everything, and you can always trust us to have your best interests at heart."

Reivyn nodded with a solemn look on his face. The serious look was marred by the fact his father was bouncing him up and down on his knee.

"Ok, back to the System. There are several different pages to your System. You have the base page where you can access the other pages, the Status page, the Class page, and the Mana page. You've already seen your Status page, so I'll start there. Your Status page isn't just for looking at the numerical representation of your status, or Stats. Once you unlock your Class at age ten, you'll start acquiring experience. Your Class determines how you develop. Gaining Experience leads to increased Levels in your Class, and you will gain automatic Stat increases depending on the focus of your Class, and you'll gain unassigned Stat points that you can manually place based on the tier and rarity of your Class, which I'll get to in a moment.

"The Mana page in your System details the methods of Mana Circulation you have learned, their level of mastery, and the purification level of your personal mana stores. We can go more in depth on this topic when its more relevant. I've already told you more than you really need to know at this time.

"The Class page is where you choose your Class. When it's time to choose a Class, the different Classes you have access to, with a short description of what they are, what their focus is, and the stats allocation is, will be listed. Once you've selected your Class, all of the other ones will disappear, forever, but the Class you chose, because we have the Akashic Record, will have more details available than before you selected it, and this can be accessed at any time. The Class page also lists the next tier of Classes you will have available, as well as the ones you are close to unlocking. Which Classes you have available to select are based on many different things, such as life experience, skills, skill levels, stats, and previous Classes. Stats will have a threshold for specific Classes, while life experience is the real determining factor for the rarity of the Class.

"Classes provide not just progression for you as you level and go through life, but they also have access to Class Skills, or Active Skills. These are Skills that are not acquirable without having the Class associated with them. You can have three Classes active, for Class Skills purposes, at a time: Five Skills from your Primary Class, three Skills from your Secondary Class, and two Skills from your Tertiary Class. They level up the normal way, and they level up faster than your other, regular Skills, also known as Passive Skills, but once you transition out of having that Class active or it changes from Primary to Secondary and loses an available slot, that Skill is lost. The levels remain, though, and if you acquire another Class that has the same Active Skill, you will start off where you left off.

"Now about the tier and rarity of Classes. Each Class is listed in a tier that is progressively more advanced. Tier 1 Classes are available for everyone to transition into upon reaching age ten. Pretty much nobody gets to choose their Tier 1 Class. For instance my Tier 1 Class is Villager. There are different Tier 1 Classes, but you basically have to be born into them, and their differences are miniscule. The Tier 1 Class is more or less a baseline for everyone. Tier 1 Classes are also unique in that, even if you don't actively gain Experience, you will passively gain ten levels a year until you reach the max level of Tier 1 of Level 30.

"This might seem like a good thing on the surface, but for most people, it's really not. Think about it. I said previously that life experience was the main determining factor for the rarity of their Class. How much life experience can a child of ten acquire in a three year period of time? It is a Sword of Damocles hanging over most people's head.

"To round off the topic of Tiers, there's no known determinate number of tiers, but the highest known tier is Tier 6. Different tiers of Classes have different maximum levels, and to progress to the next tier, reaching the maximum level is required. Tier 1 has 30 levels. Tier 2 has 60 levels. Tier 3 has 90 levels, and Tier 4 has 120 levels and so on. So you can imagine how high a level a Tier 6 is.

"The different levels of rarity are pretty straightforward: You have Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary, and Mythic. There are rumors that there's another level of rarity above Mythic, but even the Mythic level is unheard of, much less a higher rarity.

"Everyone's tiers progress linearly, but not everyone has the same rarity. It goes without saying that a higher rarity Class is better than a lower rarity Class. Not only do they have access to better, more potent Class Skills, but they also provide higher automatic Stat improvements per level and more unassigned Stat points per level. The number of unassigned Stat points is determined by the Tier plus the Rarity. So for Tier 1 Common, which is the first in rarity, that is one plus one equals two. A Tier 2 Uncommon Class, which is second in rarity, that is two plus two equals four. So, hypothetically, a Tier 3 Mythic Class would provide nine unassigned Stat points per level, because Mythic is the sixth rarity plus three from the Tier."

New Skill Unlocked! Mathematics (1)

Reivyn had been entranced by his mother's careful explanation of the System, and the sudden notification brought him out of his trance-like state. He noticed that he was starting to get sleepy, but the continued bouncing on his father's knee was helping to keep him awake. His mother noticed his lapse in concentration and probably sensed that it was about time for a nap.

"Are you still with me, Honey?" His mother asked. At his confirmation, she continued, "Ok, we're almost done with this basic explanation, so we'll wrap things up here soon and you can go lay down for a while.

"Ok, back on track. I will simplify your options for you a bit for when you're older. Higher rarity is always better. A lower rarity Class with a powerful Active Skill will always be outstripped in the long run by the sheer difference in Stat growth given by a higher rarity. I don't care how tempting a particular Active Skill looks. It is temporary. Stat growth is forever, and Stats determine your next tier Class, while your Active Skills will have zero effect.

"Now, gaining levels in your Class is not the only way to achieve Stat increases. Significant achievements, as deemed by the System, can grant you an increase in Stats. Where do these increases come from if not from your own hard work? The System directly accesses the vast, infinite amounts of mana it has at its beck and call and infuses it into you. Another way, as I just said, is hard work. Training. You can do physically and mentally challenging activities to increase your Stats directly, but these have diminishing returns, and the Stats you gain from your levels count towards these diminishing returns. Almost everyone does at least some Stat training as a child and a low level Tier 1, but by the time you reach mid Tier 2, the gains no longer justify the effort required, and pretty soon after that, it becomes literally impossible to train any Stat increases.

"Now if you've been paying attention and put two and two together, you would realize that many people can grow to an absurd level of Stats. While it is the case, it is somewhat normalized across the tiers, because everyone is like this. You will only encounter someone ridiculously more powerful in the same tier if they had consistent access to higher rarity Classes throughout their life.

"Your father is stronger than the average person, as he was lucky enough to acquire a Rare Tier 2 and a Rare Tier 3 Class. Yes, your father is already Tier 3," Ameliyn sounded almost exasperated at that revelation, rolling her eyes as she said it. Refix flexed the bicep of the arm not holding his son.

"Your Daddy is the greatest," Refix whispered into Reivyn's ear while smirking at his mother.

"Yes, yes, Dear, you're the best," Ameliyn responded lightheartedly. They had apparently had this kind of conversation many times before. "Your mother is only an Uncommon Tier 2, and I have a Lifestyle Class. Your father has combat Classes. Combat Classes aren't necessarily better than Lifestyle Classes, depending on how you want to live your life, but in terms of survival, utility, and Stat growth, they are slightly superior to their equivalent rarity counterpoints.

"Now the final point to be covered by this discussion: Gaining Experience. There are two main methods of gaining Experience: Combat and Lifestyle. Defeating things with a level will directly grant experience, and bonus experience for resolving combat will also be awarded. The amount of experience awarded will be determined by the System and is based on the difficulty and the person's performance. Notice I said "defeating things," and not "killing things." Killing does grant more experience, but typically you only need to defeat your opponent for the System to award experience.

"Lifestyle Experience is gained by performing acts in sync with your Class. For combat classes, they gain more bonus combat experience, because that is the lifestyle they have chosen. For crafters Lifestyle Experience is awarded from performing their craft. Lifestyle Classes can gain combat experience at a discount to combat classes, and likewise Combat Classes can gain Lifestyle Experience at a discount to Lifestyle Classes.

"There are other, less direct ways of accruing experience. Achievements and Mana Absorption. If you perform an achievement significant enough, but with a lower threshold than one that would award Stat growth, as determined by the System, the System will grant Experience for it. For example if you explore the wilderness in a location new to you, or if you travel a long distance, especially if the journey was difficult. And we have already talked about Mana Absorption.

"This will conclude our discussion on the System for now," his mother ended her lesson. She gazed at her young child with love in her eyes. "I know that was a lot of information to take in, but we have the Akashic Record. Everything you learn on your own can be accessed with the help of this Skill. I'll tell you more about this Skill later, but suffice it to say, we have an advantage over most people, and it would be foolish to ignore such an advantage."

Her reminder on having an advantage had more meaning to Reivyn than she realized. With the discussion on the System they had just had, he realized that he didn't only have an advantage with the Akashic Record, but he recalled the notification telling him that he would have increased Skill gains until he reached the equivalent level of mastery as in his memories. As his mother said, it would be foolish to ignore such an advantage. His mother had asked how much life experience a child could have. He didn't know about other children, but he knew that the answer for him was a lot.

Reivyn's head started to droop as sleepiness crept up on him. The last thing he remembered before falling asleep was his mother reaching out to him to remove him from his father's grasp.

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A note from Kyfe

I know I just said in the last chapter that I had limited time for writing, but my wife didn't have to work today, and as she is fully supportive of my writing, I was able to focus a few hours writing this chapter during the day.

I had always been skeptical of keeping everything close to the chest of the MC, especially involving their immediate family. I wondered what it would be like if they were more upfront with their situation. Thus, this chapter.


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Kyfe

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