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"Are you sure you'll be alright?" Refix asked his wife. They were having a family conversation at the dinner table.

"Yes, yes. I'll be fine. We'll all be fine," Ameliyn reassured her husband.

"I know. It's just that I worry," Refix clasped Ameliyn's hand in his own. "This will be the first time in years that we're separated, and I'll be gone for several months."

"It's fine. Reivyn's mature enough to look after the girls if I need him to," she looked towards her son. He had his fingers in his mouth, pulling his lips wide while sticking his tongue out at his sister, making them giggle. He heard his name and froze with his mouth wide open and eyes wide. He calmly removed his fingers and placed his hands neatly on top of each other on the table in front of himself.

"What was that? Yes, I'm responsible," Reivyn said as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. It was true. It wasn't out of the ordinary for him to tease his sisters and make them laugh.

Ameliyn rolled her eyes at his antics. "On second thought," she continued, "We're good on money, and I could just take a break from Weaving for a bit."

Reivyn gasped. He placed his hand on his chest and twisted a bit in his seat to pose in mock outrage. "Hey! I am offended," he said with a slight shake to his head.

"I'm sure you are," his mother replied. "We'll be fine. Go with a clear conscience." Refix nodded his head, and the family resumed their usually carefree banter as they finished their dinner.

"Stay behind for a moment, Reivyn," Refix called to his son as he was putting his plate away. He looked towards his mom who just smiled and nodded as she ushered the two twins away. He sat back down across from his dad.

"Mr. Einrin sprung this trip on me kind of suddenly, and I have to go with him. Which means I'll be gone during most of the time right before your Class unlocks. Usually this is one of the last lessons on the System and Classes that we give, but I'm going to go ahead and go over it now, as I won't be here."

That had gotten Reivyn's full attention. He was always eager to learn more about the System and how this world worked. He sat straight, his attention fully on his father. Refix nodded and continued.

"I know that we mentioned Mana Circulation a long time ago, but we never went over any specifics with you," he said. "Mana Circulation is more than just a Skill. It is somewhat similar to Mana Affinities, but it isn't determined by your natural aptitude and talent. Instead, Mana Circulation is determined by your Class. Have you ever wondered where the Stat increases and unassigned Stat Points come from from levelling up your Class?"

Now that the question was posed to him, Reivyn realized he had always just taken it as a given. Your level increases, and much like a Skill increase, you get slightly better. It seems there was more to it, and his father was going to shed some light on the matter.

"Mana Circulation is the act of circulating your mana through your meridians, and while your meridians exist inside you from day one, they are a simple, straightforward thing. When you acquire a Class, the System refines the meridians in your body. An increase in Tier expands and solidifies the meridians, and the Rarity of the Class determines the complexity. The type of Class, Lifestyle or Combat, and the Stats they improve upon levelling up also determine where the meridians are refined.

"A Combat Class can expect to have wider and more complicated meridians around his major muscle groups. Craftsmen typically have finer meridians around their extremities for a focus on Dexterity. The wider array of Stat increases equate to more locations with complicated meridian patterns.

"The System will directly imprint a method of Mana Circulation appropriate for your Class. That does not mean it is the most efficient method. 99% of all Classes in Tiers 1 through 3 are known, common classes, and by common, I'm not referring to the Rarity of the class. Billions of people have unlocked Classes in the Realm for tens of thousands of years, and most of those people only ever reach Tier 3 in their lifetime.

"Extensive research has been done over the generations, and there are many, many variations of the different Class Mana Circulation methods. There are also certain family lineages that have hereditary meridian pathways and unique Mana Circulation methods to incorporate into their pathways. Due to a quirk in the System, even the hereditary meridian lines aren't unlocked until the first Class is acquired at the age of 10. Nobody knows why, but that's just how it is.

"Now pay attention, because our family has one of these unique pathways that you'll need to incorporate into whatever Class Mana Circulation method you get. I'll draw a diagram for you to use as reference, but it'll be much easier to grasp and remember if I instruct you directly, first."

Refix spent the next hour or so patiently teaching Reivyn about the unique meridian pathway to their family lineage as well as the method of incorporation into a Class method. Reivyn didn't have any refined meridians, so he was unable to practice the actual Skill, but he was still able to make a mental map and follow along with his mind's eye.

"Alright, Buddy," Refix concluded his lesson. "Barring any unexpected surprise, I should be back before your 10th birthday, but it's always better to be prepared, just in case."

The next morning, the whole family lined up to give a hug and kiss to the patriarch of the household as he departed for work. Despite knowing Refix would be leaving on a multi-months-long trip, it felt like any other normal morning.

 



"Gather 'round, children, as this elder imparts the wisdom of his years upon you," Teilon said. He was standing with his palms together as if in prayer, his eyes were closed, and he was attempting to exhibit the serenity of an elder teaching the later generation. The gang of four, with the addition of Reivyn's sisters, were hanging out in Reivyn's backyard.

Kailey poked Reivyn in the side. "He's talking about you," she said to him with a serious expression.

"Yeah, you're a child," Riley contributed. The two then broke down into giggles. They held hands and started skipping around while chanting. "Chi ~ ild, chi ~ ild," over and over again. Reivyn just snorted at their antics.

How am I the brother of those two, and not Teilon. I never realized how alike their personalities were until they were in the same space together.

Teilon had turned 10 several months ago, unlocking his Tier 1 Class, and he was constantly playing the part of the wise elder. I swear he's going to unlock Actor for his Tier 2 Class, Reivyn thought to himself.

"This esteemed self recently gained a couple levels to his Citizen Class, finally breaching 20 Stats in Vitality, and, in his most magnanimous way, has deigned to impart to you what it feels like to have faster Stat growth than you are accustomed to," Teilon opined. Will and Simmon snickered at the words. The previous week, Teilon had been in a hurry and not paying enough attention, and he had walked face-first into the side of a building.

Reivyn surreptitiously glanced at his Status Page.

Status
Name: Reivyn Class: <None> Age: 9
Health: 220/220 Stamina: 420/420 Mana: 260/260
Physical Stats Mental Stats
STR: 20 INT: 24
VIT: 22 MAG: 28
DEX: 19 CLA: 21
CHA: 3 PER: 17
LUK: 3
Skills:

Acrobatics (26), Aim (17), Akashic Record (1), Athleticism (31), Balance (34), Command (0), Drawing (16), Dreams of the Past (13), Eavesdropping (20), Evasion (22), Haman (20 MAX), Hiding (24), Identify {Mundane} (18) Inspire (3), Linguistics (10), Mana Absorption (38), Mana Sight (14), Map Making (6), Mathematics (14), Mental Fortitude (20), Numbers Concepts (8), Observation (27), Pain Resistance (23), Penmanship (21), Piano (0), Pickpocket (6), Running (30), Sense Mana (42), Sneaking (19), Stealing (9), Stealth (14), Strategy (0), Swimming (0), Tactics (1), Weapons Master (22)
Affinities:
Air (11), Earth (11), Fire (11), Water (11)

"You mock this one, but he is generous and forgiving, so he shall ignore this slight upon his honor," he said. Will and Simmon had been practicing their Wrestling Skills, a good way to train Strength and Dexterity in addition to training the Skill and being a fun pastime all on its own. With the momentary distraction from laughing at Teilon's soliloquy, Teilon spotted his opportunity and tackled the two of them to the ground.

The previous match devolved into a tangled mass of flailing limbs. It wasn't helped by the twins abandoning their chanting to instead being cheering for one or another boy to pin his opposition. They had no loyalty, and they freely switched between who they cheered for based entirely on their whims.

Reivyn chuckled as he watched from the side. Ahh, this is the life.

 



Reivyn was sitting on the sofa, a book in his hand and his position relaxed. Ameliyn was working on her loom, and the two girls were practicing with needle and thread by her side. Other than the repetitive sounds of the loom, it was quiet and peaceful in the house.

Reivyn turned the page in his book. It was a compendium of short stories about various people with different Classes. It was a primer on the different common Classes one could expect to unlock upon reaching adulthood and getting the Tier 2 Class. Tier 1 Class was regarded as going through puberty. The book coupled introducing different Classes with simple moral lessons with the characters getting into all kinds of mundane and improbable situations. It was a children's book, for the most part, but it was still quite entertaining.

DONG!

The sounds of the loom ceased as Ameliyn tilted her head up at the sound of the bell ringing loud and clear in the central square. If it was an emergency, it would have rang continuosly, so there was no frantic movements accompanying the sound.

DONG!

Ameliyn looked at her children as she got up from her seat. One bell toll could mean many things, but was typically just a notification that something noteworthy had happened. A second toll meant that there was a gathering at the Town Square, a misnomer considering it was circular. Reivyn put his index finger on his page as held his book down.

"Do you want us to go with you?" Reivyn asked his mother.

"That won't be..."

DONG!

"...necessary. Never mind," she quickly corrected herself. "Gather up, kids. Let's go." The family quickly stowed their things away and accomapanied their mother out the door. They were greeted by their neighbors walking out onto the streets in the direction of the Town Square, and they easily paired up with their friends and acquaintances.

Two bell tolls signified a meeting in the Town Square. Three tolls meant it was mandatory.

"What do you think it is," Teilon came bounding over. He was quickly joined by Will and Simmon. The mothers of the three, being friends with each other on account of their children, also grouped up together and spoke together as all of the families made their way.

"We'll find out when we get there," Reivyn replied to his friend.

More and more people spilled into the streets, and as the buildings got denser, so did the crowd. I never realized how many people actually live here. It is almost a small city. Reivyn thought as he scanned the heavily packed crowd.

It was immediately noticeable as to who had called the mandatory meeting. There was an open space cleared in the center next to the well. A man in armor sat upon horseback, a company of the spear-wielding soldiers standing at attention behind him.

Teilon's mouth made a thin line as he surveyed the scene before him. "How many guesses that this is related to those Adventurers?" He asked. The mothers of the boys had gone silent, and Teilon's mother, especially, had become fidgety with a frown on her face.

Reivyn and his group could guess the meaning behind the visit from the soldiers, and they whispered to each other as they waited for more and more residents to trickle into the square. The man on horesback waited patiently, neither moving nor looking around.

Finally, once it appeared no more residents were going to arrive, an adjutant approached the man on horseback and said something up to him. The commander scanned the crowd all around him.

"There will be silence," he said. He neither shouted nor raised his voice, yet it projected clearly to everyone in attendance. Is that a Skill, or just his presence? Reivyn thought.

"I am Knight-Captain Reifold," the man declared. "I am here under the directive of Count Ilpur of Magron. A Levy Decree has been issued."

The crowd erupted into chatter upon the utterance of this news. Knight-Captain Reifold went silent as he gave the crowd a moment to process the information.

When the people didn't stop talking, and instead actually started picking up in volume, a soldier stepped forwards and bellowed, "SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTHS!"

Reifold cocked his head and stared at the soldier in annoyance. The man sheepishly ducked his head with a quick, "Sorry, milord." It had had the intended affect, though, as the crowd instantly went silent again.

Reifold returned his attention to the populace. "All Tier 1's with a Vitality over 20 shall report to me."

"Crap," Teilon exclaimed, the blood draining from his face. His mother's knees went weak, and she almost fainted on the spot. Teilon had just attained his Class, and he was being enjoined to the Levy.

Reivyn clapped his friend on the shoulder, "Stay strong, Brother." He said. Teilon gave him a grateful smile and nod.

He quickly put a brave face on the situation as he declared, "Don't worry, mom. I'll be sure to write and send back any riches I acquire once I become a Hero." None of the other kids joked or snickered at his attempt at humor. This was a solemn event, and they realized they may not see their friend again after today.

Teilon's mom grabbed him into a tight hug. He gave her a kiss on the cheek, disengaged, and then made his way to report. Reivyn watched him go, and he looked around at similar scenes happening all over the square. Many of the families had at least one, sometimes two, children who fit the criteria. Reivyn was curious about the stipulations, but he withheld his questions for now.

The crowd remained silent as the teenagers lined up in front of the troop of soldiers and man on horseback. There were several hundred of them.

Reifold again scanned the crowd, and when his gaze crossed Reivyn's path, he paused. He leaned down to his adjutant and said something to him, his vision never leaving Reivyn's direction. He didn't know if it was a misconception or not, but he could feel the man's gaze bore into him. The adjutant nodded, and then he signalled for a couple of men to make their way into the crowd.

They're coming for me. Reivyn was convinced of it. He watched in trepidation as his fears were inevitably realized. The two soldiers appeared before Reivyn and his friends and family. One grabbed him by the arm and started dragging him forward.

"Come on, you," the soldier said. These men were different from the Town Guard. There was absolutely no resisting him with Reivyn's current lack of Class and low Stats. The soldiers didn't appear to hold Reivyn's attempt at "dodging" the Levy to heart. It was just routine for them, and they probably saw such scenes often and assumed this was the same thing.

Reivyn's mother started forward, "No!" She exclaimed. "You can't take him." The other soldier impeded her path.

"Ma'am, yes we can," he replied to her.

"You don't understand. He doesn't have his Class yet," she desperately pleaded.

The soldier shook his head, "Doesn't matter. The Knight-Captain identified him as under Tier 2 with a Vitality above 20. He's coming."

Reivyn sensed the mana in his mother's body begin to coalesce. He absolutely could not allow her to do something she couldn't recover from. She still had to take care of Kailey and Riley and tell his dad what had happened.

"Mom," he called out to her, interrupting the mana circulating in her system. "It's alright. I'll be fine." He was resigned. They couldn't afford any kind of criminal charge, and he truly believed he would be fine. In fact he would be able to keep an eye out for his friend and vice versa.

Ameliyn shook her head in denial with tears in her eyes, but she no longer summoned her mana or attempted to interfere.

Reivyn could feel the eyes of the other townsfolk on him as he was marched to the man on horseback.

"Non-Classed. Thought it didn't apply to him," the soldier gripping his arm reported as he deposited him into the crowd of other children.

Knight-Captain Reifold looked at Reivyn with a stoic expression. "Understandable," he surmised. "You will be forgiven for this infraction." His voice didn't carry to the entire crowd as he addressed Reivyn. Relief flooded Reivyn as a tension he didn't realize he had from the expectation of being punished left him. He quickly found his way to stand next to Teilon, who was looking at him in incredulity.

"Guess I'm coming with," Reivyn whispered to him. Teilon just squeezed his shoulder in support.

Reifold signalled to his adjutant. The man motioned some more soldiers forward who started passing a token out to all of the kids in the crowd. Reifold glanced back to the rest of the people.

"Disperse," He was apparently a man of few words. "They will be given an hour to say their goodbyes and retrieve any effects." The crowd slowly began to trickle out of the square. Many wanted to watch the fun while the parents of those being levied were loathe to leave their children even for a second earlier than necessary, but the crowd did slowly dwindle.

"This token is your identification," Reifold continued to the young men and women. "Just hold it to your core for three seconds, and the token itself will do all the work of imprinting to you. It has a tracking function within certain range. As you heard, you have an hour before you need to report back and be ready to move out. Anyone not back within exactly 1 hour will be tried as a deserter. The punishment for desertion in times of war is death. Think carefully about your actions."

The soldiers were efficient, and Reivyn quickly received his token. It looked like a rectangular piece of copper with the emblem of House Ildur on its back and nothing on its face. He followed the instructions, and he placed the token against his core. It flashed briefly with a pale blue light.

You have been conscripted!
Class forcefully set to Peasant Levy
Error! Abnormalities detected. Scanning...
No Tier 1 Class unlocked. Precedent exists. Class System unlocked early.
Class forcefully set to Peasant Levy
Error! Abnormalities detected. Scanning...
Bloodline does not allow the designation of "Peasant." Precedent exists. Class forcefully set to Conscript.
Error! Abnormality detected. Scanning...
Life experience of a Combat Class exists. No precedent exists. Searching for solutions...
Solution found.
Select a Class. You have 60 seconds to choose before Conscript is permanently set.
Classes

Citizen

Conscript

Militiaman
Mercenary
Bowman
Mage
Healer

Fighter
Air Mage
Earth Mage
Fire Mage
Water Mage

A series of notifications appeared before his eyes. He was momentarily stunned, but upon reading the last line of notifications, his attention quickly centered on the Class Page opened before him. Most of the Classes available were grayed out. With no prompts as to how to select a Class, he simply scanned the list and willed his determination into the bottom Class: Fighter. His mother's words echoed in his mind.

"A higher rarity Class is always superior."

Instantly he could feel mana fill him. His internal structure was manipulated, and information flooded into his brain. He intrinsically understood his class and the Skills associated with it. It was not an unpleasant experience, though it was sudden and unexpected.

Fighter Tier 1 (2) Epic (Rare)
Advancement: 6 Unassigned Stats/Lvl (Psuedo Tier 2, Epic)
STR: +2 INT: +1/3
VIT: +3 MAG: +0
DEX: +2 CLA: +0
CHA: +0 PER: +1
LUK: +0
Class Skills:
Devastating Strike (1): Deal 101% Damage
Cleave (1): Reset stance at an accelerated rate
Charge (1): Sprint towards the target at 111% absolute maximum speed
<Locked>
<Locked>
Available: Intimidate (0), Power Swing (0), Quick-Draw (0)

His entire perspective shifted. A never-before attained permutation of Observation and Sense Mana combined with Balance, Evasion, and Sneaking to allow him to be aware of his surroundings more perfectly. He nimbly avoided the jostling of those around him as others headed off after attaining their tokens. It was like he was a rock in the rapids.

New Skill Unlocked! Spatial Awareness (1)

With a shift in his mentality, he was able to subconsciously actuate his Skills in a new, more efficient manner leading to the formation of an entirely different Skill. While this one used a combination of his Skills, it was not a complete fusing of them. He was instinctively aware that this new Skill was a Tier below his Mythic Skill. That still meant it was a Legendary Skill.

Not even ten years old and already have one Legendary and technically two Mythic Skills. Not bad, he mused.

After what felt like an eternity of changes being wrought upon him by the System, he came back to the present. He located Teilon, and, with a nod to each other. they quickly made their way towards their waiting family and friends just outside of the Town Square.

 



There was a lot of crying and hugging in Reivyn's household. He stood there enveloped by his mother, who refused to let go, with his sisters squeezing in on either side of him. The only thing lacking was his father smirking at him off to the side.

Ameliyn finally released her hold. She placed her hands on either side of his face and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead. She no longer needed to bend down to accomplish the feat.

"I love you," She told her son. "The most important thing is to come home alive. I don't care about whatever it is the Count of Magron has decided to issue a Levy for. I only care about your well being."

"I know, mom," he replied. "I know. I'll definitely return. You know how hard I've trained my Skills and Stats. I would venture there isn't a more well prepared person for this to happen to than me, but now I have to go." He bent down and planted a kiss on top of either of his sisters' heads before peeling their arms off of him. They were reluctant to let go.

He didn't have to prepare any gear. He didn't have any, anyway, not expecting to need any for several more years yet to come. He had spotted a cart holding what suspiciously looked like packs and weapons off to the side of the square being watched over by a contingent of soldiers. He paused in the doorway for one last wave to his family before he stepped out.

It was time for the first true leg of his journey through life.

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A note from Kyfe

For Stat/Lvl Comparison:

Citizen (2 Unassigned/Lvl) Tier 1 Common
STR: +1/3 INT: +1/6
VIT: +1 MAG: +0
DEX: +1/3 CLA: +1/6
CHA: +0 PER: +1/3
LUK: +0  

 

Peasant Levy (3 Unassigned/Lvl) Tier 2 Common
STR: +1 INT: +1/3
VIT: +2 MAG: +0
DEX: +1 CLA: +0
CHA: +0 PER: +1/3
LUK: +0  

 

Militiaman (4 Unassigned/Lvl) Tier 2 Uncommon
STR: +2 INT: +1/3
VIT: +2 MAG: +0
DEX: +1 CLA: +0
CHA: +0 PER: +1/3
LUK: +0  

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Kyfe

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