Reivyn looked over the open fan at his father. His father stood across from him, wielding the rod he used for correction, as if it were a sword. His father moved slowly, but deliberately in a thrust towards his midsection. Reivyn snapped the fan closed, and used it to guide the trajectory of the the rod off mark while moving to the side to avoid the blow. He also moved slowly but deliberately.
They continued to exchange moves, one with the rod and one with the fan, until Reivyn noticed his father overextend in a thrust. It was obviously done intentionally. His father would make mistakes on purpose to simulate someone with a lower Skill level, and to create opportunities for Reivyn to properly practice. It had taken a bit of time before Reivyn had trained enough to notice these mistakes, and it had taken even longer before he was confident enough to use them to his advantage. At this time, he seized the opportunity, and instead of simply dodging and disengaging, he slid his fan along the rod and rapped it against his father's knuckles. In an exaggerated manner, Refix dropped the rod and shook his hand in faux pain.
|Skill Levelled Up! Fans (10)|
Reivyn threw his hands up in triumph and loudly exclaimed, "Finally! That took forever."
His father gave him an amused smile before replying, "Of course it took a long time. What you're holding there isn't a weapon. It's just a traditional fan. A real war fan is reinforced and might even have blades in it."
Reivyn looked down at the fan in his hand, and then he looked back up and gave his father a blank stare.
"What's that look for?" Refix asked. "In your hands, it still works, doesn't it? Here," he bent over and picked up a stick. It was neither too thin nor too thick, and it was about three feet in length. It was flexible and wobbled slightly as it was moved around. He handed the stick to his son. "This is a sword. Defend yourself."
Reivyn had doubt written all over his face, but he got into a stance anyway. They resumed their earlier slow but deliberate movements, and Reivyn struggled to use the stick efficiently, but as he was sure there was a lesson in this exercise somewhere, he didn't just scoff and slack off. Eventually he got the knack for using it to parry the thrusts and slashes directed at him from his father.
"It's now a spear."
Reivyn adjusted his grip and held it in both of his hands, taking up the appropriate stance for spear wielding. It came much quicker to him, now that he had already gotten some practice with it, to effectively use the stick as a spear.
"It's a javelin," Refix took several steps back to create room between them.
Reivyn did a mental flip as he physically flipped the stick into a javelin throw pose, and without hesitation threw it with precision at his father. The flexible nature of the stick caused it to wobble in the air, but it still flew true. His dad casually snatched it out of the air. He snapped it in half, and then he threw one half to Reivyn.
They re-engaged their spar, and the stick was instantly a dagger in his hands.
Reivyn leapt back and instantly launched the stick in his hands at his father once again. The weight and balance was all wrong to accurately use the stick in any way, shape, or form of a throwing knife, but his mentality and the System automatically adjusted his grip, stance, and throwing form. The stick travelled through the air, tossing end over end, until it smacked right against Refix's forehead. He could have dodged easily, but he allowed the blow to land.
|You have learned a wide array of weapon Skills, and you have learned that many things can be used as a variety of said weapons. You have learned that it is not the weapon itself that is important, but instead it is you yourself that is the weapon.|
|New Skill Unlocked!|
|Skills Axes, Bows, Cestus, Daggers, Fans, Glaives, Great Swords, Hatchets, Katars, Pugilist, Slings, Spears, Staves, Swords, Throwing, and Whips have combined into the Tier 6 Skill: Weapons Master (11)|
Reivyn was momentarily stunned by the loud gong sound that reverberated in his head. He read the new notification message and then looked up at his dad with wide eyes.
"Quickly, what happened?" His father said with excitement.
"It says I got an Achievement. All of my weapons Skills combined into one," Reivyn read off the notification for his father.
Refix pumped his fist and shouted, "Yes! It was true."
Reivyn frowned as he remarked, "You mean you didn't know?"
Refix glanced at his son out of the corner of his eye. "Of course I didn't know. I told you at the beginning that I had an idea, and that we would work on it for a time, but only to a point. There are myths and legends about extremely powerful Skills being born from combining Skills, and from ancient texts that I've inadvertently been able to glance through in the past, Weapons Master was one of the ones listed. It said it was possible to combine ten weapons Skills of level ten or higher into the Skill, but more weapons Skills and higher levels increased the likelihood. So I only had you work many Skills to level ten while you kept working at the ones you had previously unlocked. It is much faster to get several more Skills to ten than it is to get only ten Skills to, say, level twenty. And it worked!"
Reivyn pointed at the text on his notification. "It says it's already level 11."
"Hmm, let me think for a second," Refix tapped his chin in thought. "If my guess is correct, you technically had a skill level of ten before you unlocked it because of all of the weapons Skills you had at level ten, but it was inactive and still locked. Then when you had your epiphany, it simultaneously unlocked and gained a level. So level 11 for this Skill is the same as level one for regular skills. This is a Tier 6 Skill, after all. Tier 6 is Mythic."
Reivyn raised his eyebrows in surprise. "So does this mean I only have to train one or two weapons Skills to increase the level of all of the ones that were combined?"
"It's more than that," Refix smirked. "According to the texts, it applies to all weapons. Even ones you haven't seen before. This is the System we're talking about. And notice the language of the Achievement: The weapon doesn't matter, it is you that is the weapon. You have gained full control over your body, so you'll instinctively know how to act with any sort of weapon, or no weapons at all, in your hands. Even mundane items that aren't weapons can be utilized as such, but probably at a discounted Skill level. I don't know. I don't have the Skill."
"Well, now that I have the Skill, what do I do now?" Reivyn questioned. He had been working so hard for so long on so many different things, the happiness of success made him lost on what to do.
"I guess... go play!"
"Reivyn! Let's go on an adventure!"
Reivyn heard the shout of one of his friends from outside. He looked up at his breakfast at his mom, his eyebrows raised in question.
"Go ahead," Ameliyn said with a smile. "I'll tidy up your plate for you." His mom was very accommodating when it came to playing with his friends. Probably because he had spent so much time focused on Skills and only marginally interacting with his peers until recently.
Reivyn stuffed his mouth with the last bit of bread from his plate, and he took off running outside. His friend, Teilon, was standing there hopping from foot to foot with pent up energy. His other friends, Simmon and Will, were standing behind him. They each lived in the same neighborhood, so they had naturally gravitated towards each other as they had similar ages. Teilon was the oldest at eight, and Reivyn shared the same age with the other two at seven.
"C'mon, c'mon, it's time for adventure!" Teilon yelled out as he took off running down the street, the other three boys quickly keeping up. They took off down the road towards the center of the town. The buildings around the outskirts of the town were various sized houses. Most people's situation was a family unit. It was rare for people in this community to be single without children, and when the children moved out, unless they moved to a whole new city or chose a profession requiring travel, they typically lived next to their parents. Communities on the outskirts, like Reivyn's family and his friends, were typically people who moved into the town from outside.
As they got closer to the commercial district, the houses got closer and taller, and more and more pedestrians could be found walking about. Reivyn's eye was captured by a platoon of men in leather and chain armor carrying spears as they marched in formation down the main thoroughfare. Typically guard patrols were groups of three to five men in leather armor carrying batons with a gladius-style short sword at their hip. This was something different, but before he could really think about it, they disappeared behind some buildings as the group of kids continued their dash to whatever mischief Teilon had stumbled upon.
They finally came to a halt on the far end of the commercial district, ducking into an alleyway, dust from the hard packed dirt path settling about them as the kids crouched down and panted for breath. Haluville wasn't quite prosperous enough to warrant stone paved roads, but that didn't mean the roads they did have were in disrepair. They were perfectly serviceable, if muddy when the weather turned, roads.
Reivyn, Simmon, and Will stood bent over with their hands on their knees as they looked to Teilon who was squatting down with a stick he had produced from somewhere.
"Boys, we're hunting for treasure today! I got tipped off by one of the older kids 'round Westend that there's a group of houses in Northend, just over yonder, that is home to one of the most coveted of prizes," Teilon began selling his scheme, letting the suspense build for his grand reveal. "If everything goes according to plan, the four of us will be polishing off one of the famous delicacies of humble 'ole Haluville."
Teilon stopped talking and looked up at his three friends expectantly. Reivyn shook his head in exasperation. He's even more theatric than dad. Simmon couldn't hold it in, and he was the first to break by blurting, "Well, what is it?"
"Tut tut," Teilon admonished. "Guys, look around. What are we next to?" Reivyn looked around, but all he could see were the same looking buildings and storefronts populating the area. Then it hit him. The smell.
"The bakers," he replied.
Teilon gave him a thumbs up. "Bingo! You don't think they spend their whole lives levelling up their cooking and baking skills and don't have amazing food for themselves? I'm talking about pies! Blueberry pies, to be exact. That's what Torhn said, anyway." Torhn must have been the older kid who "tipped him off," as he put it.
"Really, Teilon? Pies?" Simmon was nonplussed. He rolled his eyes and kicked an imaginary rock.
Teilon smacked his own head as he replied, "Think! Do either of your parents have high level, and I'm talking high level, cooking skills? I didn't think so. And, according to Torhn, the baker's wives, or husbands I don't know, bake pies every other couple of days, and they just leave them out. If a pie or two goes missing, I'm sure they'll assume a bird got to it or something. C'mon man, live a little," Teilon was really trying to sell this idea.
Simmon cocked his head to the side and smirked, "You just want pie."
"And you don't call that living?!" Teilon leaned back against the brick wall behind him and threw his hands up in shock.
Will shrugged his shoulders as he looked up, "I mean, I could go for some pie."
"That's the spirit," Teilon apparently took Will's tepid approval as the go ahead for the "grand adventure" he had planned. He leaned back forward and started drawing in the dirt with his stick. "Alright, there's four of us, and, let's face it, we're kids, so one pie. Two people on either end as look outs, two people to snag the pie. One can watch for the baker's family or run interference, if necessary, while I grab the pie," Teilon's true motives were showing as he smacked his lips in anticipation. "Volunteers..."
"Not it!" Will and Simmon exclaimed in unison.
"I haven't even explained what you're volunteering for! Ahh, forget it, you two are look outs. Reivyn and I will get the pie."
The four boys quickly split up and headed towards Northend. Each section of town was referred to by it's cardinal direction by the local inhabitants, and this group of four hailed from the Southern point of Eastend. Will went down a side street across the main way so as to be less conspicuous when they arrived at the baker's house, and Reivyn and Teilon let Simmon get ahead of them before sauntering out themselves.
Teilon was rubbing his hands together in greed with a silly grin on his face. It was obvious that he had been looking forward to almost nothing but getting some blueberry pie ever since he'd heard about it. Reivyn walked alongside him with his hands clasped together behind his head with his elbows out in a carefree manner.
"So, an adventure, huh?" Reivyn posed the question in a skeptical manner.
"That's right," Teilon easily replied. "Let me tell you, Adventurers got to do all sorts of stuff. Sneakin' around, pilferin', eatin' <cough>. I mean, fightin'. And you gotta eat to fight," Teilon declared authoritatively as he pointed at Reivyn. "My Daddy says you always gotta eat what you can when you can, cause sometimes you don't know if you can."
Teilon's words might have sounded like silly banter from an eight year-old, but there was a kernel of truth to what he said. Teilon's father had apparently been a high level Adventurer, himself, and was enjoying the fruits of semi-retirement from a lucky break his Party had stumbled upon. Well, high level for this area, according to father.
From what Refix had told him, higher level concentrations of mana bred higher levels of beasts and monsters along with higher tiers of treasures and resources. Haluville and the surrounding area wasn't even considered Tier 1.
The two boys finally made it out of the more concentrated commercial district and headed off road into the grassy area that led behind the community where several of the bakers congregated. It wasn't so surprising that they would mostly gravitate to the same neighborhood, as these ones were apparently all family.
Simmon was leaning against a wall nearby. His head was on a swivel, and he looked exactly like a kid up to no good who was trying excessively hard to appear to not be up to no good. Despite his failed attempts at being nonchalant, nobody was paying attention to him anyway. They had their own things to be up to.
As the duo passed by Simmon, Teilon looked over at Reivyn and placed his finger against his lips to indicate silence. Teilon was making much more noise just walking around than anything Reivyn was doing, but he nodded his head with a serious expression anyway. If you didn't take your fun seriously, then you wouldn't have any fun.
As they approached their destination, Will taking up position in the distance, the sweet smell of freshly baked pie was carried to them on the breeze. Reivyn spotted a pie just sitting on a window sill, steam wafting from it denoting its freshness. He wasn't lying. That pie is just sitting there, and nobody is paying attention at all. He could see a young lady, presumably Mrs. Baker's Wife, puttering about in the kitchen on the other side of the dwelling. Something seemed off about the scene, but he couldn't put his finger on it, and his friend didn't give him time to think about it.
Teilon's eyes were fixated on the pie, and there was drool leaking out of his mouth as he abandoned any attempt at subtlety and walked straight for the pie. Reivyn rolled his eyes as he grabbed his friend by the shoulders and pulled him out of the line of sight of the window for their approach. He ducked down under the window so he could see the blind spot as Teilon reached up and gently appropriated the pie from its resting spot. He practically hugged it to himself as they first made their way to the side of the building where there was no window before beating a hasty retreat.
Once they were a decent distance from the house, they broke into a run down a back alley, Teilon cackling with glee. Simmon and WIll had already moved towards the meet up location after they saw their two friends were going to successfully get away. As soon as he was sure nobody was going to pursue them, and they had gotten away clean, a notification popped up in Reivyn's window, almost causing him to stumble with its contents.
|New Skill Unlocked! Stealing (1)|
That... didn't look good. There was no point in worrying about it now. He already had the Skill.
The four were quickly reunited where they had started off, and Teilon pulled out a dull bread knife from somewhere and deftly cut the pie into four parts.
"One for you," the older boy handed a quarter piece to Will. "One for you," one went to Simmon. "One for you," Reivyn got his cut. "And one for me!" He happily squeeled. Reivyn glanced at the four pieces. There was a noticeable deviation in the cuts, and Teilon had obviously given himself a bit more than the other three. Reivyn didn't say anything. Other things were on his mind.
"Pleasure doing business with you, boys," Teilon exclaimed. "But that's all on the agenda for now, and it might be best if we're not seen together for a short while. We'll catch up some other time," he gave them all a little two-finger salute and headed off towards his house. The other three boys looked at each other and shrugged in unison.
"Alright, see you, I guess," Will said, before he too turned and walked off.
"Later," Simmon called out.
Reivyn just nodded his head in acknowledgement. Despite his silence, he wasn't upset with his friends or anything. They probably didn't even contemplate that what they had done was stealing, and from their reactions, it didn't appear that any of them had gotten the Skill like he had.
Reivyn made his way home in silent contemplation. As he approached his house, he looked at the slice of pie in his hands. He still didn't know what to think about it, and he wasn't sure if he was going to eat it or not. It didn't quite sit right with him.
He walked into his house. His mother was working on the loom, and his twin sisters were playing a game of cat's cradle, probably put to it by their mother in a surreptitious way of getting them the Weaving Skill. It was probably going to work. He turned away from them and set the pie down on the counter. Next to the pie was a smattering of copper coins.
He looked at the coins for a moment before coming to a decision. He swiped a small handful, and seeing that nothing was amiss, he walked right back outside.
|Skill Levelled Up! Stealing (1 ->2)|
Reivyn rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation. Two wrongs don't make a right. I'll have to tell my parents about this. He really wasn't looking forward to that conversation, but he wasn't in the habit of keeping secrets from them. And he felt he had a duty to do the right thing.
He quickly found himself standing outside the door to the baker's house, palms sweaty from nervousness. He clutched the copper coins in his hands and lifted the other to knock on the door. Before he could put flesh to wood, it swung open with Mrs Baker's Wife standing there looking at him.
"Can I help you?" She asked.
Reivyn bowed down 90 degrees and held the coins out in his hands. "I'm very sorry. I took your pie. I don't know how much it costs, but here."
He stood there like that for several seconds, but there was no sound or movement in front of him. He lifted his head as he slowly straightened up, and the woman was looking at him with a stunned expression on her face.
After a couple of moments of uncomfortable silence between them, a sly smile appeared on her face. "Come in, come in," she stood aside and waved him in.
With trepidation he walked into her house, looking all around for the sudden attack he knew was coming. She chuckled at his antics and waved him to the kitchen where she motioned for him to sit down.
Reivyn took a seat, his face a mask of confusion. He put the coins down on the table and said, "Here."
The woman motioned dismissively at the coins as she replied, "No, you keep that. I'm guessing from your behavior that nobody ever told you." It was more of a question than a statement as she looked at him expectantly. With a shake of his head she continued, "Those pies are for you."
Reivyn frowned at her answer. For me? Why would they be for me. More importantly, how would she know to put it there for me?
She chuckled again at the look on his face. "It's not for you, for you. It's for any child to take. Nobody remembers why, exactly, but it's been tradition forever for a baker family to place freshly baked pies on the window sill and then leave them unattended for youngsters like you to take. Those pies are specifically there to be pilfered. So you see, you don't have to pay for it. I already knew you took it. Think about it."
She gave him a moment to scrutinize the situation. His thoughts turned to the Skill unlock notification, and he guessed he understood the overall purpose of it, but there was still something that was nagging at his mind that he couldn't quite grasp.
"I opened the door before you knocked," She prompted. His eyes opened wide in realization. "I knew you kids were there long before you walked up to the window. You weren't being nearly as sneaky as you thought you were. I mean, the pie was set in a window on the other side of the house, as far away from the kitchen as it could get," she chuckled. That finally lifted the wool completely from his eyes and he understood what had initially bothered him.
"Oh, well, thank you for the pie, I guess?" He stood up and bowed to her again, this time a short bend forward in thanks instead of the 90 degrees of apology.
"Any time, dear," she easily replied. "Just make sure it's not always you and your friends taking it. Gotta give the others their chance, you know." He nodded his head in agreement.
Reivyn walked into his house to witness his mother standing over the counter looking at the coins in confusion. He sheepishly walked up and placed the rest of the coins back where he had gotten them from. Ameliyn cocked her at her son.
"Want to tell me what you were doing with those coins?" She asked. She wasn't asking in a confrontational manner, she didn't care if her son wanted to take some coins to spend on something. She was just curious.
"I went to pay for some pie," Reivyn looked away as he answered. Ameliyn looked at the slice of pie on the counter.
"You already have the pie..." she trailed off.
Reivyn remained with his head down for a moment before speaking up. "I got a new skill today," He said. He looked up at his mother when he didn't hear a response. She gestured for him to continue. "Stealing."
"STEALING!" She yelled. Refix chose that exact moment to walk through the door, because of course he did.
"Stealing? Who's stealing?" His eyes landed on his son standing with his head bowed. "Alright, alright. Out with it.
Reivyn sighed and then explained the entire situation, start to finish. When he was done, his parents were again silent. He looked up at them, and got the last reaction he had ever expected.
Refix threw his head back and roared with laughter.