“Concealing isn’t simply a skill used to blend into shadows or hide your steps,” Jenai explained. “Concealing also includes hiding your emotions from opponents and hiding your face in plain sight. With a high level of concealing, your thoughts will never show on your face, even to the most skilled face reader. With the right mask, you can make yourself look ten years older or ten years younger. You can make yourself beautiful or ugly. You can change your race or even your sex when necessary. That is truly the power of the conceal ability.”
I nodded very slightly, not wanting to cause her to make a mistake. She was currently applying a powder to my face, covering up blemishes with a large kit of paints and makeup. I had never considered before that conceal meant anymore more than hide. To think that even hiding pimples under makeup could be considered a concealing skill.
That morning, we had spent the day playing around with makeups and dresses. I had dressed as a stable boy, a maid, a thief, and now she was helping me dress like a princess. I had thoroughly cleaned my body after spending the previous night with Denova and was now wrapped in a towel as she did my hair and makeup. I wondered if hair stylist was another skill that one obtained, or if it all fit under conceal.
While I called it playing, we were actually training. Denova was out on business for the day, and he demanded that I level up my conceal with Jenai’s help. I’d already increased two levels in conceal, just with what we were doing today. I was quite happy with myself, and even Jenai was impressed. She explained that with my Seductress class, concealing and deception might be core attributes.
With my seduction skill, Jenai had opened up to me a lot more than she used to. The number of times, I had to use seduction on her might be a testament to how little she thought of me initially. It hurt to think about that since she was quickly becoming the closest thing I had to a friend in this world. Eventually, I just asked her to flat out describe how skills and classes work. She gave me an odd look that said this was something that even a child should know, but she explained.
“Anyone can learn any tier 1 skill. They have no perquisites. The max level of any skill is 10. At 1, you have the basic knowledge to perform the skill in question. At level 5, you’re a competent in it enough to be able to find work, if applicable. By Level 10, you have complete mastery over it. Complete mastery over a skill does not necessarily make you the best with that skill. Skills are always augmented with other skills. For example, if I had Level 10 with a sword, and another person had Level 8, they may still beat me with other skills, such as a dodge skill, magic, agility, or strength.
“Leveling up a skill is not easy. While most actions have a skill, most people do not earn the skill just for performing an action. For example, although even a child can perform arts and crafts, he won’t necessarily gain a crafting skill. To gain a skill, once must not only have experience with that skill, they must also have an understanding of the fundamentals behind that skill. You must know the concept of a skill, as well as have experience, in order to learn that skill. For commoners, it’s not uncommon to only have four or five skills in their entire lifetime. Although skilled craftsmen might have ten to twenty. Nobles and adventurers may have twenty or more skills. This is why you surprised me. You have so many skills, it is hard to believe you are a commoner.”
I realized at that point why it was so easy gaining new skills. I was brought up in a modern world dedicated to knowledge. Children spent almost their entire youth in school, and I had been learning about the fundamentals and gaining problem-solving skills for the last 15 years. There are actually very few skills I couldn’t get with just a little bit of experience. However, public education wasn’t a thing in this world. People learned what their parents knew, and only the rich and nobles had the money for schooling. Even with that knowledge, magic aside, my schools understanding of the natural world was leagues beyond this world.
“There are exceptions.” Jenai continued. “Depending on your class, certain skills become easier to learn. These are called the core skills. The knowledge comes more readily, and they require less experience. Most core skills are tier 1.”
In other words, if you’re a warrior, you might be able to more easily learn to use the sword. A villager could learn to use a sword just like a warrior, but it would take twice as much work. In my case, that was probably why my sex skills were skyrocketing. However, it seemed like any skill that helped with seduction could be a core skill. These skills were well documented with most tier 1 classes, but for me, an unknown class, there was very little information.
“Tier 1, you mentioned that before?” I asked.
“Tier 1 skills are common skills anyone can learn. Tier 2 and Tier 3 skills have perquisites for learning. Some call these common, silver, and gold skills. Some of these are known, others are not. Usually, they require certain Tier 1 and Tier 2 skills respectively. They also sometimes require certain stats, hidden techniques, or even classes. Class specific skills are rare, but they are known.”
“So… that’s what class does for you? Core skills, and a few specific skills?”
“That, and special skills, of course.”
I nodded excitedly, “That’s right, so everyone has special skills!”
Jenai frowned, staring at me with an indescribable look. After a minute, she opens her mouth.
“How many special skills do you have?”
I checked my stats quickly, having been a while since I last looked. I hadn’t leveled in quite a long time, but a lot my stats were higher than they used to be.
The positions were certainly going up quite rapidly. Denova had twisted and turned me into dozens of positions now. If only I had any clue what they did. I counted the special skills. Eight so far. I’d have more if I could level. The burden of only being with one man hit me hard at that moment. Clearly, my first-time bonus was exemplary, a week of daily masturbation and nearly continuous fucking and I still had yet to level. For a moment, I considered testing my seduction on Jenai and seeing if I might be able to level with her. It wasn’t that I was into girls, but I really wanted to reach the next level.
“Nine…” I stated out loud.
Jenai showed more expression on her face than I had seen since I met her. It almost looked like her eyes were going to pop out of her head. A moment later, her conceal kicked back in motion and her face was flat once again.
“Nine… that is…” Jenai still seemed to be in disbelief. “That’s one more than the number of special skills Denova has… Special skills… are only given after so many levels as well as upon accepting a new job… Have you been given orbs of Raimer? No… do not tell me.”
As Jenai spoke, I started to get a little bit excited. This was the first time I realized that I really did have some cheat powers. According to Jenai, a normal person gains about 1 cheat ability, I mean special skill, every 15 levels. They also gain another one when they accept a class. For Denova, that meant he’s earned 4 from leveling to 60 and would earn his fifth at Level 75. He had 3 more skills, first from being a thief, then a bandit, and finally bandit king.
While it wasn’t unheard of that someone acquired special skills faster, certain geniuses received a special skill every 5 levels, and there was once a rumor of a legend from a man who gained a special skill ever 2 levels. In comparison, I didn’t gain 1 skill every 2 levels, I gained 3 skills every level. To the point, I had to choose. No one else got to choose. It was a random chance skill every time. Yet every level I got a new skill and could pick the one I liked the best. Forget cheat, that was downright broken.
Of course, I didn’t explain this to Jenai. I just said there were some strange circumstances. With my increasing deception ability, I was able to get half-truths passed her bullshit meter, so she accepted my story. That got me thinking about the skill points we earned. That’s when I learned another shocking secret.
“You do not have to spend your skill point on a special skill, but special skills are almost always worth it. Everyone gains 1 skill point per level. If they aren’t buying a special skill, then they put them into other skills. This is how blacksmiths, merchants, and other common classes become masters of their trade. Naturally, they lack the resources to truly comprehend their arts, so they can force comprehension by using skill points.”
“However, everyone must be very careful with how they use their points. It’s a waste to use points on your first five levels of a skill since you could probably learn them with a mentor and experience in a few years. And simply reaching 10 with a skill does not make you a master. At 10 of blacksmithing, you may be a competent in making a horseshoe, but the skills sword smithing and armor smithing, tier two skills, become unlocked. And of course, there is the tier three Arcane smithing. Add to that the need for sufficient stamina and strength to ply your craft, mercantile skills to sell your wares, and it can quickly become clear how few 1 point a level is.”
That hit me with a really strong blow. To me, that meant two things. First off, that I could level up other skills. The question becomes, why would I save skill points for that when compared to the cheat-like special skills? The answer was, of course, to get other special skills. If I saved a point from a round of special skills I didn’t like, I could potential buy 2 special skills in the next round. I had already predicted this was true, but this confirmed it. But thus far, I never could say no to the list available.
Jenai and I talked deep into the evening. After she applied makeup, I checked it out. It wasn’t bad, but I had learned a few tricks of my own watching Hollywood makeup artists on youtube. After cleaning it off, I tried to apply some myself and ended up impressing Jenai with a few techniques she hadn’t thought of herself. By the end of the night, my conceal had already raised another level. With a Level 5 conceal, I was able to hide my emotions a lot better. We played the deception game again, and with my poker face, it became easier to deceive Jenai.
As the night continued on, at some point, one of us had gotten into Denova’s liquor cabinet. Both of our conceal abilities were lost, and for the first time, I saw Jenai with a smile on her face, even if she was glowing red from the alcohol.
“Jenai… how did you get your conceal ability up so high anyway?” I asked, assuming Denova had some involvement with it.
Jenai shook her head reluctantly, putting on a look almost like a pout. “As soon as I was born, my slave mother had to give me up and I was branded. A pretty girl like me? I was trained from a young age to be someone’s sex slave. Every slave must learn to conceal. If we showed our true expressions, we’d be beaten to death. You could say that conceal is every slave’s core skill.”
Although it seemed like something painful, Jenai didn’t wear a single expression of shame or fear. It was like ancient history to her. The concept of slavery was still shocking to me, but if you grew up and all you ever knew was slavery, then perhaps it was something normal in this world. That didn’t mean I approved of it, but for the moment, there was little I could do. I wore a serious expression for a second, deciding to ask an even more intimate question.
“Do-do you want to escape?” my voice was slurred, even while my mind was fighting to think things through. “From Denova, I mean.”
She gave me a sweet smile, with sadness in her eyes. “I don’t have a choice. He’s not a good man. He’s murdered and he steals and he doesn’t really care about me. I’m just something he can use. However, things could be worse for me. I envy you, though, you could still escape. I wonder why you don’t.”
I blinked at that. “How can I escape? I’m here just like you!”
Jenai shrugged, pointing at my neck. I frowned, touching my neck. A moment later she reached to hers. The pulled the collar down that she always wore around her neck. My eyes widened when I saw that behind it was a tattoo. The dark ink was drawn like intertwining vines that wrapped their way completely around her neck. Each vine had numerous sharp looking thorns on it.
“I may be a servant class here, but I ended up trading one form of slavery for another. If I escaped, this rune would activate, and I’d be dead in minutes.”
I stared awkwardly at that. “Did Denova do that to you?”
Jenai nodded. “Heh, the funny thing is, he could have left me as a slave and it would have been the same. He chose to remove my slavery, and then bind me with this death curse. It was his original plan to sneak me into the castle as a servant. Then you came along and he changed the plan. Suddenly, I’m no longer useful to him.”
I let out a cry, moving over to her and holding her shoulders as tears started to well in her eyes. “No, that’s not what I wanted! You’re still very amazing. He’s not going to just throw you away!”
Jenai looked up at me, her eyes lost and hopeless. “You don’t know Denova like I do. He’s very nice to you right now, but it’s only because he needs you. As soon as he decides you’re no longer important, he’ll throw you away too. He’s smart. Smarter than both us. Even today was part of his plans.”
I frowned, not quite understanding what she meant under her drunken slurs, “Wh-what do you mean?”
“Obviously, he can’t put the death curse on you. It’s too noticeable and he needs you to pretend to be the princess.”
“Ye-yeah… but once I’m declared the princess, then I’d be in hot water too once I confessed.”
Jenai nodded, her face tightening. “Do you think he’d leave things like that? Please… use your deception skill and tell if I’m lying.”
I gave Jenai a clear look, doing as she wished.
“Denova wants me to get close to you, so he can use me as a threat for your obedience (truth). I tried to fight back. I really did. I tried to give you the cold shoulder. However, the more time I spent with you, the more I started to like you… and now, and now… I can’t lose you (truth)!”
Jenai burst into tears, every single hint of concealment gone to pieces. She cried, pressing herself up against my shoulder, which quickly became drenched in tears. Tears were falling down my eyes too, quickly ruining the not water resistance makeup of this world. Denova probably knew. He knew I was using the seduction ability on her. We had both fallen right into his trap. I had made this girl care about me, and for the first time, I was realizing the true consequences of my actions.
I stroked her hair, and the pair of us clung to each other deep into the night until we fell asleep. Denova had returned late in the night. He had seen the alcohol, the both of us holding each other with red, puffed eyes as we slept on his bed. He gave a dark grin before turning and leaving. I swear I heard the haunting laugh as he walked away.
When I woke the next morning, my head only hurt a little bit. Poison resistance increased to Level 2… so I could have been worse. Jenai was already up, and when I found her, her conceal had been reinstated. The scantily clad beauty was back in servant mode, working her butt off for a man who put a death curse on her that was as bad as slavery.
Even though I wasn’t in the mood, I found some privacy and pulled out the dildo. Experience and leveling up were the only ways I knew how to get one over on Denova. Even he doesn’t know how fast I can gain skills. Plus, Jenai had told me last night that if I put magic power into the stone, it’d vibrate, making me once again wish I knew magic. After setting my title to solo player, I did a morning quickie for the experience. Once I came, the Level up screen appeared. I had finally reached level 8!
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