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A note from Kyfe

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Affinities:
Tier 1:
Air (44), Earth (44), Fire (44), Water (44)

Tier 2:
Ice (25), Lightning (9), Magma (25), Metal (25), Mist (9), Mud (9), Plasma (25), Wood (25)

Tier 3:
Darkness (39), Durability (4), Gravity (4), Kinetic (4), Light (39), Piercing (4), Sharpness (4)

Tier 4:
Eternity (1)

Tier 5:
Abyss (1), Veridical (1)

Reivyn looked at his Affinities tab after unlocking his first Tier 4 Affinity. He had been completely surprised by the sudden notification that he had unlocked a Tier 4 Affinity, because he hadn't particularly been trying to unlock one.

I didn't even know that Eternal was one of the Affinities I could unlock. Mom did say she didn't know all of them, but that's one that wasn't included in the list she gave me. Reivyn thought back to the conversation he had had about the Affinities with his mother.

"You've obviously unlocked all of the basic Elements, and you've unlocked most of the Tier 2 Elements, as well. There are actually not that many Tier 1 and Tier 2 Affinities.

"A good rule of thumb is to think of Tier 1 Affinities as the very basic building blocks of mana and the world around us on a conceptualized basis. People have long known that the physical makeup of reality doesn't match the elements of mana, but mana isn't a physical thing. It makes sense that mana and physics don't match up exactly.

"Tier 2 Affinities are combinations of the basic building blocks or other permutations. For instance, Plasma is basically super-heated air - Fire and Air - with a touch of Lightning conductivity. It's interesting that you unlocked Plasma before Lightning, but it's not actually necessary despite what you might learn in the Academy.

"Tier 3 Affinities are more along the lines of concepts or attributes than elements. For instance, you could infuse the Tier 2 Metal Affinity into your sword and make it have the properties of a stronger metal, or you could infuse Sharpness and create a considerably more condensed and efficient edge directly. Sharpness, and other concepts, won't work on everything, though. You wouldn't get much utility out of a Sharpness-infused ball.

"That being said, if you pair the right Tier 3 Affinity with the right situation, it could be up to magnitudes of order more powerful than a Tier 2 element.

"Light and Darkness, while technically would seem to belong in Tier 2, aren't just the base attributes of light and darkness. They include the higher concepts with them, which is why they are Tier 3."

"Higher concepts like what?" Reivyn asked.

"Well, like some people associate Light with good or holy, and Darkness with evil or unholy. Those descriptions aren't inherently true of the Affinities, but the concepts do exist and are recognized by the System. Hence, Tier 3." Reivyn nodded his head at the explanation.

"Tier 4 Affinities," Ameliyn continued, "are higher concepts that touch on truths of the universe. Space and Time are the two most famous Tier 4 Affinities, even though they are the rarest ones. A Caster with a high Level in both Space and Time would be one of the most powerful forces in the world, almost regardless of their Tier or Level, depending on the situation. Granted, I've never heard of a Caster talented in both Space and Time, and the ones who are talented in one of them are one in a billion."

Reivyn was taken aback at how rare the talent for those Affinities was. "So there's - what? - seven or eight people talented in Space or Time? And you guys happened to find one to modify that Dungeon Key?" Ameliyn shook her head as she chuckled.

"You underestimate just how vast the world is," Ameliyn said. "There were over five billion people spread across the Vyndinn Empire alone, and we were just one of thousands of Tier 4 Empires in this Realm. Nobody knows exactly how big the Realm is, but it's speculated that it's infinitely large.

"Take the empires I just mentioned as an example. Tier 4 Empires are the peak of civilization. There are no Tier 5 or higher Empires, but we know that there are countless Tier 5 Regions, all the way up to Tier 8."

"Tier 4 is the highest power an Empire has achieved? Why?" Reivyn asked with a frown. With the power he had witnessed his parents and their Party wield, it didn't make sense that Tier 4 was as high as it went.

"Think about it," Ameliyn said. "There just aren't enough strong people available to tame a Tier 5 Region, much less a higher one.

"Remember what I said about the denizens of each Tier Region?" Reivyn nodded his head. "The weakest monsters and beasts in a Tier 5 Region are going to be almost as strong as your father, and there are countless of them.

"Sure, there are Adventuring Parties and other government-sanctioned organizations that go on expeditions into the Tier 5 and 6 Regions to extract resources and wealth from them, but there's just not enough people to make basing an empire there a viable option.

"Even if all of the most powerful people in all of the thousands of Tier 4 Empires renounced their power and banded together to form a new force - which would never happen - they still wouldn't be able to form a working Empire. At best, they could form one city. But then what? All of the newly born citizens would start off below Tier 1 as children, and then they would have to spend years of training before they could even leave the confines of the city.

"It makes much more sense to consolidate in a Tier 4 Region and use individual teams to plunder the higher Tier Regions.

"There are ancient texts that allude to even more ancient civilizations that went up to Tier 6, but those are myths and legends by this point. If it was true, then nobody knows how or why they disappeared, and if it's untrue, then it's just a fairy tale.

"Anyway, we got very sidetracked from our original conversation," Ameliyn chuckled. "I couldn't give you any hard numbers - nobody could - but there are at least tens of thousands of Casters out there that are talented in Space or Time. There very well might be one or two talented in both, but, as I said, I've never heard of it."

Reivyn rubbed his chin as he considered the words of his mother. It might be the System itself limiting its willingness to help those that are talented in both. I recall that the Fortune Teller Class had serious implications for anybody who could take that path to Tier 4 or higher, but it was a Common Class, which excluded anyone from being able to advance to Tier 4 with that Class. This might be the same principle.

"The Tier 4 Affinities I have unlocked are Astral Wind, Celestial - which you know about already - and Sovereignty.

"Astral Wind holds the concepts of the Heavens and their limits. Celestial is in tandem with Astral Wind, and it holds the concepts of the Heavens and their purifying fires. Sovereignty is the concept of absolute control. Control of yourself, control of others, and control of your own Domain.

"Domains are another subject, and they're not exactly related to mana. It's a Tier 4 and above thing, so you have time before you need to know about it.

"Those are just the three Tier 4 Affinities I have unlocked and have a talent for. I know of several others, like Space and Time that I mentioned previously. There's also Causality, Entropy, and Judgment.

"Sadly, my own education on Tier 4 Affinities was brought short by the calamity, and I only got a bit of knowledge on these. The ones that I have unlocked are basically inherent to our Bloodline, and the other ones that I'm slightly familiar with are along the same lines associated with control over the environment and others - things that a ruler would be interested in."

"I can sort of understand Causality being associated with ruling, and definitely Judgment, but why Entropy?" Reivyn asked.

"Remember what your dad said about thieves and those best at defending against a thief?" Ameliyn asked back. Reivyn thought back to the incident with the pies several years ago and nodded his head. "It's the same concept. If a ruler wants a stable empire, the best way to ward off the slow decay of time is to be intimately familiar with it.

"Those Affinities were ones I would have been taught over time, but the ones I do have are ones that come naturally to me," Ameliyn gave Reivyn a meaningful look. "That means you most likely have talent in those Affinities as well. It is associated with our Bloodline."

"The final Tier of Affinities, getting back on track to our discussion once more, is Tier 5." Ameliyn said. "Your father and I saw that you have two Tier 5 Affinities: Abyss as well as Veridical. Care to explain?"

"I have no idea, honestly," Reivyn said. "I got a notification that I got an Achievement unlocking them after I woke up from being unconscious from that one delve. I don't have any memory of the boss fight or what happened in the boss room, though my friends did tell me about what happened." Ameliyn gestured for Reivyn to continue.

"I got knocked into a pit in the ground full of blood sacrifice and other alchemical substances, and when I woke up, I had a quarter of my Bloodline unlocked as well as several Achievements. I have vague memories of a weird space and giant eyes, of all things, but I'm not entirely sure how I got the Affinity. I do know that my Bloodline Siphon is what helped the alchemical soup unlock a portion of my Bloodline."

"Bloodline Siphon?" Ameliyn asked with a frown. "What's that?"

"Oh, I can siphon Experience directly into my Bloodline to unlock it. I need ten million total Experience, and the alchemical bath gave me two and half million Experience."

"You know, I would be more surprised, at this point, if you didn't have such a strange ability," Ameliyn sighed. "How in the world did you develop the ability to siphon Experience away from increasing your Class Level into increasing your Bloodline?"

"I don't know, I've just always had the option to do so," Reivyn said with a shrug. "That's the main reason I've never been concerned with Leveling up too fast."

"Yeah, that would do it," Ameliyn chuckled. "Well, I'll have to talk to your father about this whole Bloodline Siphon thing. We might be able to help out with that, we'll see.

"Anyway, about your Abyss affinity. Your father and I know the truth of the matter, but it wouldn't be a good thing for others to learn that you have such a thing, especially in such a backwater like a Tier 1 Region. Even Tier 2 Regions probably don't have scholars on the level to recognize it for what it really is."

"And what is it really?" Reivyn asked.

"It's literally just your affinity with the mana of that Realm. Nothing else to it, really. The reasons behind it aren't that important, but that won't matter to ignorant people or zealots. Your father and I will also teach you our deception Skills, including the one to obscure your Status Page, before you go to the Academy."

"Thank you," Reivyn said. "I think that would be for the best." Ameliyn snorted.

"It's not like we would withhold the knowledge from you if you asked."

 



Reivyn glanced at his Affinities once more with a frown. I know that my Bloodline is slightly different than my mother's - and my father's, for that matter - but it is still based off of theirs. Why in the world did I unlock Eternity?

Reivyn couldn't figure it out. Well, there's one way to find out. I can always ask.

Reivyn got up from his bed where he had been sitting in Meditation and headed to the living room where his mother was watching his sisters. He walked up to the couch and took a seat nearby.

"I unlocked my first Tier 4 Affinity," Reivyn said without preamble.

"Really? Congratulations!" Ameliyn said with a radiant smile. "Which one did you unlock? Celestial? Astral Wind?"

"Eternity," Reivyn replied. Ameliyn frowned at the answer.

"Eternity? How did you unlock that Affinity?"

"I have no idea," Reivyn said, throwing his hands up in exasperation. "I came to you to find out if you could help me figure it out."

"Were you working on a specific Affinity to unlock?" Ameliyn asked.

"No, I was just running my Mana Circulation while Meditating," Reivyn said. "I had already worked on my other, new Affinities and their weaves, and I was taking a break from concentrating on them when I suddenly got the notification."

"Always something weird going on with you," Ameliyn chuckled. "So I noticed that your Meditation Skill was at Level 24 when you showed us your Status Page. Is it still at that Level?" Reivyn glanced at his page and gave a nod. "Well, in that case, your wandering thoughts are probably what provoked you to subconsciously make the connections somehow. A Level 24 in Meditation means you aren't skilled enough to be completely clear of any thought. Do you happen to recall any of the thoughts that crossed your mind?"

Reivyn closed one eye while looking up with the other as he thought about the question.

"Recently, I've had thoughts of the different Tiers flitting across my mind, and I have been mentally preparing myself to begin working on the ones you've shown me. Other than that, I always have stray thoughts associated with my dreams..." Reivyn snapped his fingers as he thought of something. "One of the things associated with my dreams is the thought that I had existed in a vast plain of nothingness for, well, an eternity."

"That might be it," Ameliyn said. "Your subconscious was combining your thoughts on working on Tier 4 Affinities with your thoughts on eternity from your dreams. We know, from what you've said about the bonuses and the Skills you revealed to have when you were very young, that the dreams have a tangible interaction with the System. It's very likely the System helped you out once again."

"Hmm, I can see how that makes sense," Reivyn said. "Then what do you know about the Eternity Affinity? Does this mean I'm one of the one in a billion that's talented in Time?" Reivyn's eyes lit up with expectation.

"Woah, now," Ameliyn said, holding her hands up. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves. If you unlocked Time, then I would say you're talented in Time. You unlocked an aspect associated with Time. Eternity is on one end of the spectrum, lasting an infinite amount of time. But the Time Affinity would also hold the complete other end of the spectrum, infinitesimal amounts of time, and everything in between." Reivyn's face fell with disappointment.

"That doesn't mean you're not talented in Time," Ameliyn consoled. "I would say unlocking Eternity is a positive indication, though. You'll just have to keep working and exploring as you grow older."

"Thanks, mom," Reivyn said. He got up, leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek, and went back to his room.

Yeah, it was just a surprising turn of events, Reivyn thought to himself. I'm pretty much done with working on my Affinities for the day, so I'll go back to working on Mana Circulation and the other control Skills. I'll see what Eternity is all about tomorrow.

 



Reivyn watched with Mana Sight as the orb of circulating mana in his hand seemed to slow to a crawl. Reivyn frowned at the display in his palm, though, because "slow to a crawl" wasn't exactly accurate.

This is the strangest thing I've ever seen, Reivyn thought. It appears to be moving continuously at a slow, steady speed while at the same time it's at a complete stand-still. But it's also completing its rotations instantly at the same time. That sounds like nonsense, and if I wasn't looking at it and Sensing it myself, I wouldn't believe it was possible - or that it made any kind of sense, whatsoever.

I have no idea what to do with this Affinity. The name Eternity lends a certain hint at what its purpose and function are, but I think it's a bit early for me to be messing with this Affinity in any practical way. Maybe I could trap someone in a sort of time limbo for a period of time? That actually sounds like it would be insanely powerful.

It also seems like it could be a more powerful version of Durability: this mana, and what it's affecting, cannot be changed, altered, or damaged. It is Eternal.

Reivyn nodded his head at the direction his thoughts were moving in. I'll still need to work out all the things I can do with it and practice being able to actually do them. Figuring out the weaves to this Affinity is going to be incredibly difficult without any Class Skills or other examples to imitate.

Oh wait, Reivyn smacked himself in the head. I keep forgetting that I advanced to Light Magus already and that I'm not a Tier 1 Fighter anymore. I seem to have a Class Skill for this very situation. Reivyn pulled up his Class Skills and looked them over again. He had already experimented briefly with this particular Skill.

Class Skills:
Basic Elemental Spells (1): Bolt 2(4)MP, Flash 2(4)MP, Beam 4(8)MP (+Duration), Blast 10(20)MP - (Double MP Costs for non-Light Affinity
Lattice (4): Bonus to Mana Manipulation +24%
True Light (1): Infuse your Will into Light Elemental Spells
<Locked>
<Locked>

How could I forget about Lattice? From the description, it just gives a bonus to Mana Manipulation, but that's not all it does. I discovered it had a different function when I tried it out the other day. The name should have tipped me off.

Reivyn initiated the Skill while maintaining his infusion of Eternity Mana in his hand. He focused on his intent for what he wanted to accomplish: a zone frozen in time for eternity.

Barely at the edge of his perception, he could see an overlay of a weave. It was incredibly vague and fuzzy, and it dissipated after a fraction of a second, but it was there.

The Lattice Skill builds a literal latticework of the weave. A lattice is a form of a weave, just built from different materials.

My Skill is much too low to get any meaningful insights from it for such a high Tier Affinity, but this is definitely a Class Skill I need to focus on. I'm already pretty good at picking up the weaves I encounter. If I can generate the examples I need myself, this will be infinitely beneficial to me.

Reivyn dispelled the Skill. The description didn't include a cost, but neither did his other Skills that used Stamina. He could feel a drain on his mental energy, if not his actual mana pool while using the Skill. It was very slight, considering his Mind Stats, but it was there.

I'll practice my other, lower Tier Affinity weaves with this Skill to build it up. My gut tells me that the Tier affects the difficulty the Skill has with extrapolating the necessary weaves.

It seems like the nature of having to experiment with various weaves is the nexus of the Magus Class.

Reivyn wasn't ready to work on his Class Skill at the moment - I have a schedule to keep - so he didn't immediately begin working on the lower Tier weaves. He ended his investigation of the Eternity Mana and began working on building up his Affinity Level with it. Increased Affinity Level should also have a tangible effect on the Lattice Skill.

 



"Keep kicking your feet!" Refix called from the shore of the river. Refix had found a place relatively nearby that was shallow for a good portion available to teach Reivyn how to swim. The first lesson to unlock the Skill wasn't what Reivyn would call swimming, though.

Refix had Reivyn move slightly beyond where he could comfortably touch down on the river bed, and he had him tread water.

"The purpose of treading water is to conserve energy while keeping your head above water. That's not why we're doing it, though. We're getting your body used to the movements associated with swimming and familiarizing yourself with your buoyancy. It's just as much an exercise in confidence as it is in swimming."

"Sounds good," Reivyn acknowledged.

Reivyn had felt awkward at first. It felt like his movements didn't properly keep him afloat and he had to expend way too much effort for such a simple thing. He had practically flailed about for several minutes before he felt a noticeable change in not only his movements but the effects the movements had as well.

I must have finally Leveled Swimming up to 1, Reivyn chuckled to himself.

"Keep at it for a while longer," Refix called out. "We'll advance to moving about in just a moment. Pay attention to how your feet move the water and how your body naturally floats."

Reivyn focused his attention on how his feet and legs interacted with the water as he kept himself afloat. His arms were more of a stabilizing factor than a flotation one, though it did serve some small benefit.

"Ok, now to do some real swimming," Refix called out. "Tilt your body forward, put your arms under your center of gravity, and kick your feet. Paddle with your hands coming up in front of your chest."

Reivyn followed the instructions and got into the proper positioning. His arms naturally took on the role his feet had previously had in helping keep him above water while also working in tandem with his feet to propel himself forward. Reivyn frowned as he felt something was off about the whole situation.

I don't have any specific memories of dreams about swimming, but my gut is telling me that what I'm doing right now is foolish and incredibly inefficient.

"Are you sure this is right?" Reivyn called out as he bobbed forward.

"Haha, you're swimming, aren't you?" Reivyn couldn't argue with that logic. He was, in fact, swimming. "This is just paddling, though. It's not a real form that has any kind of efficiency or power. I'm just putting you through your paces right now. We'll move on to real techniques soon."

Of course, Reivyn thought. Technique was the thing that I instinctively knew was missing from this. I mean, dad's not wrong: I am swimming. It's just without any kind of technique.

Reivyn's Swimming Skill was one of the ones he had unlocked from the very moment he was born, so it fully utilized the bonus the System told him he would get until he reached a certain Level. It didn't take long for his Skill Levels to climb while practicing, though it wasn't anything outrageous.

Reivyn practiced his swimming for several hours, his high Stamina enabling him to go for far longer than he would have been able to as a child without a Class. He followed his father's instructions, and he quickly learned several different methods that were much more practical, and less foolish-looking, than the initial paddling he had done.

"Did you have fun?" Refix asked as Reivyn toweled dry.

"Yes, actually," Reivyn said. "I think this is the first time you've trained me in a Skill that you didn't require me to completely exhaust myself first." Refix grinned at him.

"Don't worry," he said, clapping Reivyn on the shoulder. "We'll get your Breath Control Skill up to a satisfactory level, and then I'll teach you how to fight in the water. There's plenty of opportunities to be tired in the water."

Reivyn rolled his eyes as he got dry. Is this how Teilon feels about me when I talk about training all the time? Reivyn shook his head. At least I train normally with them.

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Kyfe

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