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It had been three months since his mother had first explained the System to him, and he had just surpassed one of the first milestones in his life. He had turned one year old. Or, in accordance to his new standard, 16 months. Nothing really noteworthy happened on his birthday. There was no celebration, and he wouldn't have even noticed its passing if his age on his Status page hadn't changed from 15/16 to 1.

He had had a few other discussions with his parents about the System. They had clarified some things, and described some of the minutia in greater detail, but that first conversation had been everything he really needed to know at this stage in his life.

The one interesting thing was what his mother had revealed about the Akashic Record.

"The Akashic Record, like it says about itself, is formed when a powerful being Ascends to a higher realm. The System scans their Status page and sifts through their life experiences, and it records what it finds into what is known as the Akashic Record. The System grants access to the Akashic Record to everyone born of that being's lineage, but the level of access diminishes the further removed one is from the source; however, everyone who has access to the Skill gets the full access of all of the information accumulated from all of the Ascended Beings.

"It has been thousands of years since the last recorded Ascension, and everyone in the world today, regardless of what lineage they are distantly related to, only has a Skill Level of one. As far as anyone knows, that is."

"If it's been thousands of years, and there have been multiple Ascensions, shouldn't most people alive today have the Skill?" Refix asked. He knew that his son was way too young for such leaps in logic, so he helpfully supplied a question to his wife for his son's benefit.

"What an excellent question," Ameliyn responded with a quick smile to her husband. "When I say there have been multiple Ascensions contributing to the Akashic Record, history has recorded less than ten. Several of them weren't humans, and the type of beings that Ascended, for the most part, didn't have any children. In order to accrue the level of power necessary to Ascend, one must be entirely focused and driven on getting stronger to the detriment of everything else.

"People don't advertise that they have the Akashic Record outside of their family, but if I had to guess, outside of royalty and nobility, which also isn't a given, there are probably between thirty to fifty families on the continent that have the Skill."

Reivyn returned his focus to the present. He was currently trying to count all of the divots and grooves in the wood of the beams on the ceiling. Sometimes training a Skill, in this case Observation, was incredibly boring. The upside always made itself known, eventually, though, when he got that blue box telling him he had improved.

His task of wood viewing seemed to have tapped out any additional Skill gains, though, as his Skill had not levelled for a long time, despite his intense focus and new discoveries among the many grains on the beam. Maybe he needed to try a different tack.

He started mentally listing all of the different things he knew about the beam while he stared at it. This is a support beam for the ceiling. It is Cherry wood from a nearby grove, according to small talk from my father. It has multiple patterns in the grain... He listed every little detail he could think of, even the number of nails used. When he started struggling to come up with anything new to list, after one last thoughtful addition, he finally received that long awaited notification.

New Skill Unlocked! Identify {Mundane} (1)

The notification was a pleasant surprise. He hadn't expected to get an entirely new Skill out of his exercise. If my guess is correct, Observation is about noticing things, and Identify is about knowing things. That begs the question: Where does the knowledge come from if I haven't studied the subject myself? More questions for my parents.

All in all, a fruitful endeavor.

 



Reivyn peeked around the armoire as he held his breath. He was currently in one of the different rooms attached to the living area. He had been told that this was going to be his room. He could hear his father moving about quietly in yet another attached room, one that was currently being used for storage. They didn't have a whole lot of things to store at the moment, but his parents had purchased some things to put in there deliberately.

He could feel his heartbeat accelerate ever so slightly as his father moved about the house. He was methodically searching for his son, and it would be all over if he found him.

It had been another four months of repetitive actions to slowly increase his Skills. One of the things he enjoyed was thinking up new ways to exercise his Skills, and he had found that playing hide and seek with his parents was a truly entertaining way to level up multiple skills.

First, he had to Sneak quietly in the house in order to get anywhere undetected. His parents had far higher Stats and Skill levels than he did, so they applied a handicap by blocking their ears as well as closing their eyes while they counted. Then he would need to Hide from the searching eyes of whichever parent was playing with him. This involved much more than just getting small and remaining still. He also had to regulate his breathing and try to remain calm so his heartbeat wouldn't accelerate too much. He had found, to his dismay, that these two things were powerful identifiers to his location for people with a much higher Perception Stat. If he successfully evaded detection, he would occasionally receive a level up in Stealth, too.

I've finally figured out what Stealth is. Hiding is remaining in place undetected, Sneaking is moving about undetected, and Stealth is accomplishing a task undetected. Apparently successfully evading detection counted as accomplishing a task. The previous instances of him gaining Skill Level Ups now made perfect sense to him.

He contemplated some of the new things he had learned about Skills when he asked his mother about Identify.

"Where do Skills come from, Mommy?" He had asked.

"What do you mean, Honey?" His mom asked back.

"What a Skill knows. How does a Skill know it?"

"Oh, I understand," Ameliyn replied. "Well, like I said about the Akashic Record, the System itself knows it. In regards to that particular Skill, it is very specific knowledge that is only from the understanding and life experience of the Ascended involved. All other Skills apply a boost from the System based on the amalgamation of everyone in the world who has, or who has had, a modicum of expertise in that Skill. The System examines, in real time, your personal level of expertise and the level of expertise everyone else has with the same Skill Level, and provides the appropriate boost. Learning new things from using the boost provided by the System counts towards increasing your level of personal expertise, thus you can gain Skill experience through using the System Skill. This might seem like a self perpetuating Skill Levelling function, but that's not the case because there are diminishing returns on how the boost from the System counts towards your personal expertise. But you don't have to worry about that for a long time. It's typically around Skill Level 70 for low tier skills."

"Got you!" His father popped his head out on the other side of the armoire. He had lost focus on the game he was playing while he was thinking about what he had learned. He shrieked in delight while he reflexively jumped from being startled.

When he came down from his little hop, the rug under Reivyn's foot slipped out from under him. He cartwheeled his arms about to try and utilize his Balance Skill to remain standing, but he realized it was a futile effort, so he decisively abandoned that tactic. He tucked his head into his shoulder as he turned his flailing fall into a roll, and he managed to use his momentum to propel himself back into a standing position.

His heartbeat thundered in his ears as he looked about with wild eyes. His father was half-way to him with his arm outstretched to grab him when he finally came to a stop.

Skill Level Up! Acrobatics (0 ->1)

"I think that's enough playtime for now, Buddy," Refix said to him. He must have thought Reivyn was in a daze because of his close call just now. In reality Reivyn was thinking about his new skill and what he could be doing to exercise it.

"Sure, Daddy," he replied. He would need his energy for all the rolling around he was going to be doing from now on.

 



Another six months had gone by, and Reivyn was learning to incorporate his rolls, cartwheels, and jumps into his running around. As such another, different kind of upgrade had occurred. Hide and Seek had been Levelled Up to Tag. With the increase in his physical stature and mobility, the outside world had opened up to him. Slightly.

Their house was situated in a cul-de-sac on the edge of the town they had settled down in. The place they had decided to call home was too small to properly be called a city, but too large to be a village. His mother had told him that most of the population considered themselves to be dwellers of a city, however, because their Tier 1 Class was Citizen and not Villager. There was no effective difference between the two, but it gave them a sense of superiority over the smaller communities that dotted the landscape surrounding them. The fact that this town, Haluville, was itself a smaller community, one of many, surrounding an actual city didn't get in the way of their thinking.

Their home had a decent sized backyard with a couple of trees that Reivyn would use to alter his momentum with centrifugal force while zipping around the backyard. He had quickly levelled up his Running Skill playing tag in the backyard with his parents.

Running (8)

"Come on, Mommy," he said as he attempted to pull his mother off the couch. He wanted to run around outside.

"No, Honey. Mommy's not going to play with you right now," his mother remained seated on the couch, easily fending off his attempts to move her.

"You haven't played tag with me in forever," Reivyn dramatically exclaimed. He eyed his mother critically. Something had been bothering him recently. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, and he hadn't really paid too much attention to it, but now that it was potentially the source of interfering with him having fun while exercising his Skills, it was a problem.

He used his Observation Skill to see if he could glean any useful information, while Ameliyn placidly gazed back at him. There was no new information to discover with this method. There was definitely something off, he could feel it. His thought process did a mental flip, and he started using Sense Mana to gauge any changes in his mother.

Bingo! The mana in his mother was acting strangely. There appeared to be a void in her core where he had never noticed one before. He tapped his finger against his lips as he was lost in contemplation trying to figure out what it could mean. It looked like it was wrapped around something. Like a cocoon.

Realization dawned on him, and he pointed at his mother while he excitedly exclaimed, "You have a baby in your belly!"

Ameliyn's eyes got huge, and she quickly leaned forward to cover his mouth with her hand while shushing him.

"What was that?" He heard his father's voice coming from outside where he was doing maintenance on his gear. Sometimes he forgot that other people had Eavesdropping, too, along with a higher Perception Stat to fuel it. The door banged open as Refix strode into the house with purpose. "What is this I hear about a baby?' He demanded.

Ameliyn threw her hands up in exasperation and gave Reivyn the stink eye. "I wasn't sure yet, so I didn't want to say anything. But I missed my most recent flow, and a lot of the other signs are there"

"This is fantastic news!" Refix exclaimed after a moment of shock. He had a wide grin threatening to split his face in two.

"Not so fast. Like I said, I'm not sure yet, and this isn't the first time my body has thrown us for a loop," Ameliyn rebutted. "It's fine to be happy, but I don't want anyone to get their hopes up prematurely."

"Sure, sure," Refix replied. Her admonishment had obviously gone in one ear and out the other.

Ameliyn rolled her eyes at her husband and then looked sideways at Reivyn who had slinked off to the side. "Sometimes you're too clever for your own good, Brat."

What?! My sibling isn't even confirmed yet, and I'm already relegated to Brat?! He narrowed his eyes as he looked at his mother's stomach. We'll see how I tidy you up, later.

Ameliyn reached out and gently cuffed the back of his head. "What are you thinking? I know that look." Reivyn chuckled sheepishly.

"Well, Buddy, it looks like you'll have to find some other way to entertain yourself while I'm busy," Refix turned his attention to his son. Reivyn already had his brows screwed up trying to troubleshoot a solution when his mother brightened up.

"I have just the thing," she reached over to her loom and straightened back up with something in her hands. "Here."

She handed Reivyn a sheet of parchment and a charcoal stick.

 



Sweat dripped down his brow as he concentrated. His tongue was unknowingly stuck out as he concentrated on the parchment in front of him. At first, when his mother gave him the parchment and charcoal, he had just drawn simple pictures, mainly consisting of little representations of his family. That had quickly turned into his mother teaching him how to read and write.

Sure, it was very early for someone his age to be learning how to read and write, but he had always been more mature for his age and a fast learner. Plus his mother relegated her teachings so far to just practicing the alphabet and numbers. His Penmanship Skill had improved quite a bit over the past six months. Used to I would have said half a year, but six months doesn't quite make it anymore.

Right now he wasn't actually practicing his Penmanship. He had just come in from completing a round of calisthenics, and he needed a short while to recharge his mental capacity. It was no longer all fun and games, as he had started to actively try to train his Stats with helpful hints from his father. Now it's fun and work. He quite enjoyed the process of tempering his body, though as a young three year-old, there wasn't a lot that his father let him do just yet. After all can't let my advantage go to waste.

No, he was marshalling all of the levels he had gained in Drawing to work on his magnum opus. It had taken him nearly an hour of concentration, and a few failed starts, to get the proportions just right. As he finished the last line on his "masterpiece," a blue notification box popped up.

Skill Level Up! Map Making (0 ->1)

He had drawn a map of the area surrounding his house. The trouble had come from getting the scale consistent. He was intimately aware of the culdesac his house was on, the other properties, the road, and even the wooden palisade that was a bit of a distance off. He had spent several days measuring steps and practicing getting the scale right by starting small and slowly expanding out. The map he had just finished contained all of that, plus the interior of his house. It was quite detailed and definitely not something to expect from a three year old child.

Ameliyn leaned over his shoulder to check out his map and she made an exclamation of surprise. "That's very good, Honey," she said as she affectionately patted him on the shoulder. He looked over at his mother and her swelling belly. The local Healer had confirmed the pregnancy at the two-month mark, and she was now seven months along. Her tummy was considerably larger than he had expected, but the monthly check-ups with the Healer showed that everything was fine.

"Now that your little pet project is complete, it's time to work on your letters again," his mother was ruthless.

"Mommmmy," he whined. "I've been working on my letters for months now. Can't I do something else?" He looked up at her with hope in his eyes.

Ameliyn gave him a flat look. It was that look that all mothers had that spoke an entire sentence all on its own. It said: I know what you're trying to do, and it's not going to work on me, so get back to work. The glimmer of hope in his eyes dimmed. "You're going to need a lot more than a mere few months before I'm satisfied with your Penmanship. But you're right," his hope was rekindled and a smile crept across his face. "We'll work on arithmetic," his smile vanished as hope died.

Yep, ruthless.

 



Reivyn could hear the sounds of controlled breathing coming from one of the spare rooms. With their experience from the first birth, they didn't want to ruin any of their good sheets with the blood involved during childbirth, so they had set up a separate, temporary little room for his mother's labor.

"You're doing fine, Darling," he heard the voice of his father. "Are you in pain? Do you need anything?"

"Of course I'm in pain," his mother snapped back. She continued in a calmer tone, apparently getting control of her emotions, "I have Pain Resistance, but it's still uncomfortable. There's an incredible pressure that has nothing to do with pain, and the only thing I need right now is for this baby to decide to get out of me!"

Reivyn could hear the impatience in his mother's voice. She had been in labor for several hours now. He looked towards the room where his parents had set up shop and contemplated whether or not it was wise to go see if they needed his help with anything. No, no. They've got this handled. No need for my involvement.

With nothing better to do, Reivyn pulled up his Status to peruse it.

Status
Name: Reivyn Class: <None> Age: 3
Health: 100/100 Stamina: 170/170 Mana: 190
Physical Stats Mental Stats
STR: 7 INT: 18
VIT: 10 MAG: 20
DEX: 7 CLA: 13
CHA: 3 PER: 10
LUK: 3
Skills:
Acrobatics (7), Aim (0), Akashic Record (1), Athleticism (2), Balance (13), Command (0), Daggers (0), Drawing (4), Dreams of the Past (11), Eavesdropping (11), Evasion (4), Haman (9), Hiding (10), Identify {Mundane} (3) Inspire (0), Linguistics (6), Mana Absorption (23), Map Making (1), Mathematics (3), Mental Fortitude (6), Numbers Concepts (3), Observation (15), Pain Resistance (0), Penmanship (4), Piano (0), Pugilist (9), Running (8), Sense Mana (25), Sneaking (5), Staves (0), Stealth (4), Strategy (0), Swimming (0), Swords (0), Tactics (0)

He looked over his Stats and Skills with satisfaction. There had been consistent, steady gains in both categories, which resulted in huge changes to his Status Page. He didn't know what a typical three year-old's Stats looked like, but he was confident they didn't look like his. If they could even see it, that is. He chuckled to himself.

The sounds of groaning coming from the other room brought him out of his contemplation. It appeared that his mother had finally begun the process of giving birth to his little brother or sister, as he could also hear a steady litany of words of encouragement from his dad.

He walked over to the other room and peeked his head inside. The bed was angled in a way that he didn't have direct view of the goings on down there, but he could see his father in position to receive the new baby while simultaneously trying to comfort his wife. He witnessed the strain on his mother's face and the bulging of the veins in her neck as she pushed with all of her strength.

Suddenly, there was a startling cry, and his father straightened up. A new baby, still covered in after birth, was held in his hands. He had temporarily forgotten the presence of Ameliyn as he looked at the new addition to the family.

"It's a girl!" He shouted out in glee. He busied himself with cleaning her up, but Reivyn noticed that something wasn't quite right. His mother hadn't relaxed at all, yet.

"Refix," his mother called. His father didn't seem to hear her. "Refix," she repeated, her voice now more demanding.

"Hmm?" He responded, still busying himself with his new daughter.

"REFIX!" His mother screeched. He finally looked up at her in surprise. "Get your ass back over here," she said through gritted teeth. She panted between sentences. "We're not done. There's another one."

Refix was rooted to the spot as he blankly looked at Ameliyn. He looked down at the baby girl he was cleaning up, then back up at Ameliyn, then back down again. Finally, he looked towards the door and spotted Reivyn.

"Reivyn, come over here," he motioned towards his son to enter the room. "Hurry, hurry. I need your help. Gently clean up your sister while I help your mother." He spoke incredibly quickly and rushed Reivyn to take over his duties. Reivyn ran over and took the cloth being used from his father.

"Hnnnnn... <Pant> <Pant> Hnnnnn... <Pant>," his mother continued pushing. She had started again before Refix was even fully in place, not being able to hold on any longer. When a baby decides it's time to come, it's time to come now.

Reivyn adroitly tended to bathing his newborn sister. She didn't look at all like he had expected. Doubts filled his mind as he cleaned her. Another set of wailing lungs shortly accompanied the first one, and with a glance, Reivyn saw that his mother had finally relaxed. Despite their concerns, there really wasn't a whole lot of blood, as he could Sense the same phenomenon of mana being used like when he was born.

Refix joined him back in his spot with another cloth and pail of water. They were silent as they quickly got the two girls cleaned up. Just because they were silent, though, did not mean it was quiet in the room. The two newborns continued to exclaim their discontent with the world.

"Bring me my babies," his mother's steady voice reached him. He let his father take over all of the work, afraid that he wouldn't be able to carry the sister he had cleaned with his three year-old body despite the Stats on his Status page. His mother was recovering quickly, if a bit slower, like she had done with him. His father gently placed the two girls into the crook of either arm of Ameliyn. The two girls quickly quieted down as they fell asleep amidst the familiar warmth.

Reivyn fidgeted a bit as he watched the wholesome scene, but he finally could no longer repress his doubts.

"Why are they so ugly?" He asked. His parents shared a look before they burst into unified laughter. He didn't understand the joke.

"Pshh, what do you know," his father retorted. "That's what all babies look like when they're newly born." He was immensely confident in his knowledge of newborns, having experienced it once before.

"Hah! Says you," his mother countered. "With Reivyn's purple and wrinkly skin, you thought I had given birth to a mutant." Refix jumped in startlement and quickly pressed his fingers to his wife's mouth to silence her.

"Shh, shh. You need your rest, Dear," he attempted to salvage his dignity in front of his son. Ameliyn just rolled her eyes and then bit his finger. "Ouch!" He yelped. "Well, I was right, anyway. Look at him," Refix gestured towards Reivyn before sharing another laugh with his wife.

Reivyn frowned at the words, but then he shrugged. Eh, he's got a point.

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A note from Kyfe

Almost 19k words total, and 3 more days to write another 6k to reach the milestone. I think I'm gonna make it :)


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Kyfe

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