A note from Kyfe

A bit of a shorter chapter. This is the last of the preparation before they move on again to bigger and better things. I would like to get into more exciting things, but the story needs the prep work for it to be a real story and not just a series of battles and experiences.

"Ok, now Teilon, step forward and feint, don't actually attack," Refix instructed. "Good. Show that you're there in that position. In a head-on engagement, it's unlikely for you to go completely unnoticed by the enemy. So you need to plant a seed in their mind that you are in a certain spot."

Refix was standing in front of the three youths: Reivyn, Teilon, and Kimberly. Kimberly had her staff held in a ready position, Teilon was wielding the dual daggers he had purchased, and Reivyn was standing to the back and slightly off to the side. They were only going through the motions, moving slowly but deliberately, as Refix instructed them on some small-unit tactics when they were employing their preferred weapons instead of everyone having a spear and shield.

"Now, Kimberly, you keep the focus of the opponent on yourself, and any time their gaze wanders to try and surveil the battlefield, that's an opportunity to reach past their guard and give him a good pop. It's not necessarily your goal to do damage; you want to keep their focus on you." Refix indicated for her to strike at his face, and he simulated having to fend it off.

"The next step is to lure the enemy into the trap. So, Kimberly, after you've successfully enraged the enemy by giving a good thwack in the face, back off slowly while keeping the engagement.

"Teilon, take this opportunity to lunge in and perform another feint, but when you back up, keep the exact same backward trajectory. Don't adjust your position. With the opponent's focus on Kimberly, and you performing multiple feints in its perceived same location, it will subconsciously place your positioning in the same relative space. As Kimberly draws it forward, move back to your same spot, and keep your movements small, smooth, and to a minimum.

"You might think that you need to get into position as quickly as possible in order to Hide, but that's not the case. Fast, quick movements draw attention. Perform the feint, and yes, you need to quickly recover your stance from the fake-out, but once you've done so, slowly and deliberately take your steps back. Then stand perfectly still. There's no reason to try and move around and find a 'good hiding spot.' Just stand there. Trust me.

"Now, this is the trap you've set up," he continued to walk forward while pretending to engage Kimberly, and he walked right past Teilon. "Just let it walk past. Unless it has the Skill Battlefield Awareness unlocked, it will continue to think Teilon is in the same relative position to itself. Now Teilon, once it's passed you, simply come in behind and attack its vitals with a free hand."

Refix stepped past Teilon and indicated where he should go with a sweeping arm motion to his back. Teilon followed the command and walked right up to Refix's back and performed the mock back-stab.

"Good, good," Refix praised. He brought everyone back into their original position before continuing. "Now, if the enemy does have Battlefield Awareness unlocked, which, in monsters is highly unlikely, that's where your Hide, Sneak, and Stealth Skills come into play. The System does all the calculations for you, and it is more complex than anyone could ever deduce - and there are always random chances and mitigating factors - but you can think of it like this: Slow steps back initiate your Sneak Skill, standing perfectly still initiates your Hide Skill, and letting it walk past initiates your Stealth Skill.

"If you interrupt any of those steps, say you leap back instead of walk back slowly, you'll interrupt the synergy of your Skills. You can still succeed, but they won't be working together to give you the maximum benefit. What's more likely to work? Their one Skill Battlefield Awareness versus your three Skills, or one versus one?" He gave each of them a pointed look as the trio nodded with looks of contemplation on their faces.

"That was an example of engaging a superior foe. If you come across a single enemy that is weaker than you, unless you want to practice, which I recommend you do a lot of in the beginning, there's no reason to go through so much trouble. Don't waste your time. Simply have Kimberly bash it in the head to stun it, and Teilon can swoop in and stabby, stab, stab." Refix performed a little demonstration of the "stabby, stab, stab" technique as he spoke. The three students chuckled at the antics.

"Last person, Reivyn, as the only one here with a ranged Skill currently, will be performing that role. After considering everything, he'll be using the Sling. It's capable out in the open and in confined spaces like the Dungeon.

"Your task is one of Strategy. You can direct the other two, or more if you get more members in the future, from your vantage overlooking the whole situation, and your tactics are similar to Kimberly's. If there are multiple strong enemies, your task is to strategically keep their focus off of Teilon, but you also have to strike a balance between keeping them focused on Kimberly, but not overwhelming her.

"Once you guys get the basics down to where you can perform it without thinking about it too much, and you can adapt to changing variables, working as three against multiple strong enemies is where most of your practice will lie. Combat is fluid and ever-changing. You add more enemies, you add more variables. I'll hire out some of the guards under me to come and help out later.

"For now, we'll go with practicing the basics while slowly increasing the pace until we're moving at full speed. Reivyn, it might seem like you don't have anything to do, but you can take this time to practice Observing the battlefield and pointing out anything they might miss being in the heat of combat."

The three youngsters got into their positions and went through the different steps that Refix had laid out for them before with Refix acting as the antagonist. He would slowly ramp up the speed and engage Kimberly while making sure to keep his Skill level suppressed so as not to overwhelm the poor girl.

Every now and then Refix would throw in some random variable, such as not following Kimberly right away or turning to attack Teilon when he performed his feint. While it wasn't absolutely necessary for Reivyn to direct the two in these simple situations, he still practiced his role of pointing the variables out and shouting out a solution.

At one point, Refix chose to disengage Kimberly halfway through the maneuver and lunged at Teilon, but Reivyn had been waiting for him to pull such a ploy, and a stone, which was tossed and not launched from the sling, went sailing past Refix's face just when he started. Reivyn smirked at the wide-eyed look his father directed at him, and when he moved towards Reivyn, Kimberly smoothly interjected and regained the initiative. The tactic was pulled off without a hitch.

"Excellent work, everyone," Refix said as he stood over a collapsed Kimberly and Teilon. They were panting for breath from the exertion of practicing their tactics. At the end, Refix hadn't given them any time to recover between practices, and they were moving at full capacity of their Skill Levels. Refix gave them a nod and casually strolled away with a chuckle.

"Your dad <gasp> is a monster," Kimberly said between breaths. Reivyn stood over his friends with a smirk on his face.

"Get used to it, haha," Reivyn said with a bit of schadenfreude. His two friends were too busy recovering to come up with any sort of retort.

"Reivyn!" He looked up to the sound of his father calling his name. A pack landed next to him with an audible -clunk-. Whatever was in it was heavy. "Don't think I didn't notice you standing there perfectly fine while your friends did all the work," Refix said with a tug at his lips. He twirled his fingers in the air. "Run."

"Awww, man," Reivyn hung his head for a moment before reaching down to put the pack on.

As he turned to begin his exercise, he heard Teilon speak up. "You get <gasp> what you deserve."



Exiting Dungeon
First Floor: Complete
Combat Experience: Exp +200
Boss Defeated: Exp +200
First Floor Completion Bonus: Exp +500
Level up!
Experience 496/1100
Monthly Experience
Relevant Skills Training: +600 Exp
Physical Exercise: +65 Exp
Sparring: +200 Exp
Knowledge and Understanding: +100 Exp
Life Experience: +3200 Exp
Total Monthly Exp: 4,165
Level Up!
Level Up!
Level Up!
Experience 1061/1400

Skills Leveled Up!
Tier 1
Aim (22)
Athleticism (35)
Balance (40)
Marching (15)
Medium Armor (22)
Mining (12)
Observation (36)
Running (37)
Shields (28)
Woodworking (11)

Tier 2
Evasion (30)
Identify {Mundane} (24)
Mana Absorb (41)
Mana Circulation (17)
Meditation (21)
Pain Resistance (30)
Sense Mana (49)
Strategy (3)
Tactics (14)

Tier 3
Battlefield Awareness (9)
Blind Fighting (7)
Command (4)
Danger Sense (4)
Inspire (6)
Mana Conjuration (11)
Mana Manipulation (11)
Mana Sight (22)
Mental Fortitude (30)

Tier 4
Mana Weapon (6)
Spatial Awareness (13)

Tier 6
Weapons Master (40)

Tier 1
Air (22)
Earth (22)
Fire (22)
Water (22)

Tier 2
Ice (6)
Magma (6)
Metal (6)
Plasma (6)
Wood (6)

Tier 3
Darkness (8)
Light (8)

Reivyn reviewed the progress that he had made in the past month and a half as he lay in bed. He had already seen the notifications when they first popped up, but he had checked it several times to see if he could figure out how to maximize his experience gain. Without further education on how the System worked, he could only glean so much from the information given.

The Akashic Record Skill was no help, either, as its "helpful hint" only said the same thing for each entry: "A higher Skill level is required."

He had gotten a huge boost to his experience from the "Life Experience," but there was no way he was going to try and manufacture a confrontation with a giant demon and Revenants again, even if he could. The only thing he could do to ensure a boost to his experience was to explore deeper into the Dungeon.

He pulled up his Status Page.

Name: Reivyn Class: Fighter Lvl 14 Age: 9
Health: 740/740 Stamina: 1440/1440 Mana: 410/410
Physical Stats Mental Stats
STR: 70 INT: 41
VIT: 74 MAG: 41
DEX: 70 CLA: 31
CHA: 4 PER: 32
LUK: 5
Experience: 1061/1400

Tier 1:
Aim (22), Athleticism (35), Balance (40), Drawing (16), Haman (20 MAX), Hiding (24), Horsemanship (6), Map Making (6), Mathematics (14), Marching (15), Medium Armor (22), Mining (12), Observation (36), Penmanship (21), Piano (0), Riding (11), Running (37), Shields (28), Sneaking (19), Stealing (9), Swimming (0), Woodworking (11)

Tier 2:
Acrobatics (26), Eavesdropping (20), Evasion (30), Identify {Mundane} (24), Linguistics (10), Mana Absorption (41), Mana Circulation (17), Meditation (21), Numbers Concepts (8), Pain Resistance (30), Pickpocket (6), Sense Mana (49), Stealth (14), Strategy (3), Tactics (14)

Tier 3:
Battlefield Awareness (9), Blind Fighting (7), Command (4), Danger Sense (4), Inspire (6), Mana Conjuration (11), Mana Manipulation (11), Mana Sight (22), Mental Fortitude (30)

Tier 4:
Dreams of the Past (13), Iron Will (8), Mana Weapon (6), Spatial Awareness (13)

Tier 6:
Akashic Record (1), Weapons Master (40)

Tier 1:
Air (22), Earth (22), Fire (22), Water (22)

Tier 2:
Ice (6), Magma (6), Metal (6), Plasma (6), Wood (6)

Tier 3:
Darkness (8), Light (8)

Class Skills:
Devastating Strike (43): Deal 143% Damage
Cleave (46): Reset stance at an accelerated rate of 156%
Charge (49): Sprint towards the target at 159% absolute maximum speed
Quick-Draw (33): Accelerate the draw speed of a sheathed weapon by 33%
Available: Intimidate (0), Power Swing (0)

It was always satisfying to look at his full Status and compare it to what it was when he had first begun his journey in life. There was something that had been bothering him a little for a while now, though. It wasn't anything serious or bad, but he was confused about the rate of progression of his Class Skills. He also never got any notifications about them increasing in Level.

He got up from his bed, and after preparing for the day, he walked out into the living room where his mother was already working on her loom. His sisters were behaving themselves, eating breakfast at the kitchen table. The mornings were the times when they were least active, but their shift from little angels to little demons would be swift and sudden when they had had enough time to ramp up their engines.

I wonder what kind of Skills they have unlocked? I know mother has them doing the same sorts of basic training in Penmanship and Mathematics and the like, and I've seen them do some physical training with dad, but nothing like I did when I was their age. Then again, I did ask for it.

He put them out of his mind so as to not get sidetracked from his question. His father had already departed for work, but his mother was just as knowledgeable about these things as his dad, so he walked up to his mother.

"Mom, what's up with these Class Skills?" He began without a preamble.

"Well, good morning to you, too," Ameliyn said with a smile.

"Ah, sorry. Good morning, mom," Reivyn said as he gave her a hug and a kiss on her cheek.

"That's better," she said. "Now what's this you want to know about Class Skills?"

"My Class Skills are progressing at a ridiculous speed. I don't get any notifications about them at all, but every time I pull up my Status, they seem to have grown by leaps and bounds. It's way faster than my other Skills. Is this just a function of Class Skills?"

"No, dear. Class Skills don't inherently grow at a faster pace than regular Skills. There are a couple of reasons why they're growing so fast, as far as I know. One, they're low-level Class Skills. Tier 1 Classes don't have any Class Skills associated with them, so Tier 2 Class Skills are entry-level Skills. Even then, it isn't as exaggerated as you're describing it.

"So that leads to the other reason: Talent. When someone selects a Class that they're inherently talented in, the Class Skills will level up at a faster pace. Combined with the entry-level nature of the Class Skills that you have, it would account for how fast they're going up. You have the Weapons Master Mythic Skill, a powerful bloodline, and a strong drive for improvement. Your Fighter Class is a good fit for you.

"If someone foolishly chose their Class, they would have a very hard time leveling up their Class Skills, but that honestly doesn't happen very often. It usually comes when someone has a goal for a higher Tier Class they want to work towards, but they need to have a specific Class and focus to get to it, and they're not suitable for that prerequisite Class.

"It's fine for people in Tier 2 to sacrifice their talents to take an inefficient Class, if they're driven and hard-working. It is a terrible idea, unless one has access to the proper resources and guidance, to choose a poor fit for Tier 3 or higher. Does that help?"

"It does, thank you, mom," Reivyn said.

"You're welcome, sweetie."

Reivyn grabbed a quick bite to eat before taking off to find Teilon and Kimberly. Considering my Mental Stats being much higher than my Physical Stats initially, I wonder how quickly Class Skills will increase in level if I choose a mana-focused Class?

Reivyn walked down the road towards Teilon's house. They both lived in the same little neighborhood, but there were still several houses between them. Reivyn nodded and smiled at Will and Simmon as they walked past. They gave their own perfunctory greeting as they were busy with their own things.

Teilon was coming out of his house as Reivyn approached. He ran up with his usual exuberance.

"Morning, Reivyn," he waved as he joined his friend. "Let's go get Kimberly and get started. I think I would like to practice my Sneaking and Hiding Skills out in the woods, and Kimberly can practice her Observation Skills while trying to spot me. You can switch back and forth with whatever you want to focus on."

"Sure, that sounds like a plan," Reivyn responded. "Hey, I just walked past Will and Simmon. When was the last time we hung out with them?"

Teilon looked up as he thought about the question. "It had to have been before the conscription. We just really haven't had the time to play around with them. Any days that we have off, they're doing their own bit of training that their parents have set up for them, and vice versa."

"Yeah, I just feel kinda bad. If we hadn't gone off with the levies, we'd still be hanging out and figuring out a way to form a group with all four of us. As it is now, our little adventure has set us apart on our trajectories."

"Well, just because we're not going to go adventuring together in the short term doesn't mean we're not still friends," Teilon said. "We'll just have to make an effort to set aside some time, but they'll have to do the same."

"Yeah, I suppose," Reivyn sighed. It was strange that Reivyn hadn't really even thought about his other friends all that much since he had been home. Sure he had been stepping up his training regime and incorporating new training methods with Teilon and Kimberly involved, but it had always seemed natural to have Will and Simmon in his group before. Now it felt more natural to just be with Teilon and Kimberly.

I guess that's life, he mused. People grow apart, and new connections are made. We can still be friends and hang out, but things won't go back to how they were before. We have our own life paths ahead of us.


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