Leveling through Lust
Chapter 1: Awakening

A lot of men would have questioned my manliness if they knew that I was paying attention to anything other than the amazing view I had stumbled upon in the library, two very sexy women, their state of undress matching their great beauty, their limbs tangled in a beautiful tango. But in my defense, two glowing, floating sentences, invisible everyone except me, was an excellent reason for my distraction.

[Successful Voyeur Activity: +100 Experience]

[Achievement: Patience. Wait two decades before gaining first experience point. +500 Experience, +10 Wisdom]

Of course, it was difficult to understand its total magnitude without knowing my particular background. Not when more than ninety percent of the population had the ability to gain discrete experience points which then turned into sudden boosts of power, greatly increasing their capabilities, while the remaining few had to do it the hard way, studying tirelessly to enhance their abilities. Melius, these people had been called, increasing their skills and abilities through the points they have collected through killing monsters.

Nobody knew why something like that was possible. Some claimed it was a gift from gods, others theorized it was somehow linked to endless hordes of monsters that turned otherwise beautiful planes into blackened seas of death, interrupted only by occasional town or city. Some fringe religions even claimed that it was somehow linked to Demon Kings, and every single Melius was cursed by the demons -not a popular theory considering the only reason that people were still alive against the monsters was the Melia, especially the elite warriors that had been lucky enough to have a high enough level cap. Everyone had a different level cap, with no way of learning it before hitting to a point, causing a Melius unable to register an experience point gain.

That level cap neatly tied into my status as a disabled Melius. Or my supposed status, invalidated by the floating letters in front of me.

As the firstborn of a noble family, I was tested when I was five, revealing that, unsurprisingly, I was a Melius. It wasn't entirely impossible for a noble family to have an Invalid child, but it was not expected by default. But things had taken an unexpected turn when I killed a small monster that had been captured by our family hunters, only to receive no experience. It caused a huge commotion. Repeated tries, or experiments with different monsters, changed nothing. No matter the creature, no matter the circumstances, I never gained a single experience point.

Experts, after making my father spend endless riches, deduced that I was the most unlucky Melius ever, born with a level cap of 1, meaning I would never learn a Skill, or earn a Stat Point. I was supposed to live my life as nothing. No skill points, no stats above one, no skills, and certainly no hope…

My father used his influence to record me as an Invalid, meaning I was supposed to belong to that particular unlucky minority that was supposed to improve themselves through endless practice. Still better than being a cursed Melius that never leveled up. Less damaging to family reputation, at least.

But those two glowing sentences changed everything.

Everything.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Considering that my whole life had been turned sideways just a moment ago, even with my suddenly increased mental prowess, the shocked gasp that escaped my mouth was excusable. Unfortunately, it alerted the two beautiful ladies that had been sharing an intimate kiss to my presence. Their heads raised, and I managed to recognize them, far faster than any other time I was able to recognize anyone. Cornelia, of the House Antony, and Marianne, of the House Louis, two of the most popular women that currently graced the halls of the Silver Tower, the premier learning institute of the Empire. Two strong, deadly women with strong lineages, which made their panic completely understandable.

"Who is there," called Cornelia, her voice sharp in anger, the uncrowned queen of the school, a famed fire mage with a temper to match. I couldn't help but record every single detail as she hurriedly wrapped her arms around her breasts, though they were not sufficient to hide them from the view, a decent portion spilling out of her arms. Marianne was different, her face colored with panic, and her arms were enough -if barely- to cover her more modest assets. And just like that, another sentence appeared in my field of view.

[Achievement: Double Trouble. See two pairs of chest at the same time. +100 Experience, + 1 Perception]

At that point, the most logical thing would be to escape silently, trusting to the endless shelves of books to hide my figure. But I didn't do that, because I had been already noticed before I could take action, courtesy of my abominably low intelligence stat, which governed the flexibility of thought. By the time I realized I was supposed to be moving, I was already pinned down by Cornelia's gaze, her green eyes flickering darkly, suggesting that she was already preparing a spell.

Again, I was slow to react while they fixed their clothes before cornering me. But for the first time in my life, I was annoyed by it. Because only now, I really understood the difference between the others and me, which I lacked the wisdom to appreciate. The stained glass that prevented my perception was suddenly broken, giving me the first taste of clarity.

It was too bad that it was the clarity of death.

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"I'm going to kill you, you twerp," Cornelia whispered in a tone that made me shiver, the flame that flickering in her hands making her even more intimidating. "When I'm done with you, no one would even find your bones-" she added before her words had been interrupted by a desperate shout.

It was my shout, I absentmindedly realized it was me that was shouting, even as the pain threatened to bury the momentary clarity I had. From the corner of my eye, I could see my health-bar diving dangerously close to zero. It was already blinking red.

Luckily, her companion grabbed Cornelia's hand before my health dipped below zero. "Stop, it's the Mule!" she called, reminding me my nickname, which, for the first time in my life, caused anger to spark in my heart, because for the first time, I understood what it meant. "Don't kill him. It's not like he'll remember anything."

"Damnation!" Cornelia called as she took a step back in shock. Without her hand, I collapsed on the ground, and I could see my health bar draining even further. "Do something!" she called.

I saw Marianne's hand glowing blue before a coolness spread through my body, breaking my concentration. It didn't prevent from the darkness covering my view though. The last thing I had seen was three glowing sentences, promising that everything was going to be different.

[Achievement: Survive the Fury. Narrowly escape death as a direct consequence of being caught while peeking. +500 Experience, +1 Endurance]

[!Level up]

[Achievement: Patient Leveler. Wait for two decades before leveling up. +5 to all stats]

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Waking up was a weird experience. Despite the persistent pain on my cheek, I felt like I was reborn, that I was walking unencumbered for the first time after wading through the mud for the first time. I would have thought that I was in a dream, but even in my dreams, my thoughts flowed with a clarity that I had never experienced before.

I was in uncharted territory. The closest I had been to this when my mother had pitied me, and cast status enhancement spells on me, which raised all of my stats by five for a glorious minute before disappearing forever, leaving me a fleeting memory of heaven that never left me.

Still, I couldn't help but tremble with fear as I brought my status window, afraid that the clarity will dispel like a puff of cloud the moment I bring my status window, that damnable screen that was filled with ones, reminding me that I was cursed. But this time, the view was different.

[Level: 2 Experience: 1200 / 3000

Strength: 6 Charisma: 6

Precision: 6 Perception: 7

Agility: 6 Manipulation: 6

Speed: 6 Intelligence: 6

Endurance: 7 Wisdom: 16

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HP: 59 / 62 Mana: 82 / 82 ]

I couldn't help but feel excited as I examined the scores in front of me. In less than a minute, the curse that ruined my life was dispelled, I was free. Free to life. Free to grow.

At that moment, I was thankful to my Wisdom stat, because I had no doubt that, without a significant score on it, I would be shooting my lungs about my curse being broken, that I could be something more than that damnable Invalid Mule, capable of something else than collecting discarded books while lacking the intelligence to even sort them correctly.

But my newly enhanced Wisdom stopped me, my mind sorting a lifetime of barely-remembered knowledge in a revolutionary manner. I barely remembered the details years after, but parts of a discussion between two experts, considering the probability that I could gain experience with anything other than monster kills had been considered, but ultimately dismissed. Not much, but enough to convince me that keeping my shut might be the better idea.

Only then, I remembered to glance around, checking where I was. I was afraid that I had been in the medical ward, which would mean I would be examined before leaving. It would have been impossible to hide all the changes that my body had gone through. With my stats upgraded, a night's sleep was enough to put some muscles to my twig arms, and add some color to my pasty skin.

Luckily, I was in my room, which was a small room in the depths of the castle, in an abandoned wing, barely bigger than a wardrobe, a dirty, ruined cot only furniture in there. Only after my revolutionary mental shift, I could truly process how insulting it was to live in there, but I still welcomed it. After, it kept me out of view.

I couldn't help but wonder just how much of my life had been spent as being kept out of view. My childhood had passed locked in a room, various experts my only companions, then my father arranged me a 'job' as a librarian assistant. Not a bad job for a supposedly Abnormal child. Of course, now, I was realizing that it wasn't my father's mercy that drove him to arrange it. Any job in Silver Tower was prestigious enough to prevent too many questions. and more importantly, with four hundred miles between the Silver Tower Complex and my family estate, too far away for any news reach back to my family's social circle.

But to me, it had been a cruel exile, forever stuck in Level 1 between the best and the brightest students of the Empire and the Free Cities, my life filled with meaningless menial work, broken only by one of the students decided to prank me due to boredom. Though, the latter didn't happen much, because there was no great pride found in tricking the 'Mule', a nickname referring my endless menial tasks and my slowness of mind.

"No more," I murmured, unable to prevent excitement from slipping to my tone. I was finally awake, and ready to take what the world owed me for twenty years of humiliation!

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Of course, before making the world pay for my humiliation, I needed to validate the reason for my experience gain. With my improved deduction capabilities, it wasn't hard to theorize that the sexuality of the situation had been a major part of it, but I needed to test the exact conditions to

But before that, I needed to select my skills. Excitement burst in my heart as I realized, for the first time in my life, selecting a skill was an option. I called for skills tab, and met with an empty list, three lines of writing below it breaking the pattern.

[Select one of the following skills: Basic Subterfuge, Basic Resistance, Basic Concealment]

Again, quite different than what was supposed to be normal, combat filled option list, but I welcomed the change. While it was tempting to have the ability to beat up the assholes that humiliated me for years, I needed to keep my changes as hidden as possible, meaning my selection was between concealment and subterfuge.

[Basic Subterfuge (0/25)]

It wasn't an easy choice, but I went with basic subterfuge, because I needed to hide the changes I was going through, and the ability to trick others would prove invaluable. Acting was critical for my survival.

I have never heard a skill that didn't focus on combat and similar activities, but since none of the experts were able to identify my problem during my youth, it wasn't too wild to believe my condition was unique. And needed to keep that hidden since I had no intention of spending another ten years of my life under the examination of so-called experts.

I donned by librarian assistant robe, which conveniently covered my whole body loosely. It even had a hood to cover my face. Then, I took a deep breath, trying to suppress a sudden excitement that thumped into my heart. For the first time in my life, I felt alive, doing something other than obediently following other people's direct orders, like I was nothing more than a wound-up toy.

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The moment I stepped in the corridor was different. I smelled the mold and the dust that covered the corridor, my increased stats allowing me to process just how disgusting those smells were, but even then, it made me only happier, like a recently-recovered blind person enjoying the sight of a dumpster.

A desire to let out a laugh filled my chest, different than all the times that I had been trying to copy the others when they laughed, usually me as the butt of the joke. I suppressed that particular desire, not wanting to alert anyone to the sudden change of my status, though I had a feeling that if it wasn't for my ridiculous increase in the wisdom stat, I would have missed that particular detail under the rush of excitement.

I started to come across other people closer I got to the library. I had passed just a few people when another line of fiery letters appeared on my sight.

[Subterfuge +1]

Excellent, I thought, surprised, but definitely not dissatisfied, with the increase speed of the skill. I remembered hearing that real-life situations were much better to enable skill progress, a swing against a deadly monster was more valuable than a thousand swings in the courtyard. And apparently, the likely consequences of getting noticed was enough to qualify my situation as dangerous.

Missing such an amazing opportunity would be definitely wasteful, so I decided to get 'lost' during my walk towards the library. For anyone else, getting lost while walking towards the location of employment of last two years would be incredulous, but for my past self with all one stats and no skills, it was something that happened in a startling frequency.

I spent almost an hour wandering in the corridors, which helped my subterfuge skill to reach the rank of ten, but unfortunately, that number stayed the same for the last five minutes, suggesting that I needed more dangerous situations to test it. Or maybe, I added a moment later, it required more interactive situations.

The sensation of a hand, wrapping tightly around my biceps, pulled me from my thoughts. I turned towards my assailant, only to meet with the face of a servant that I occasionally saw in the halls. "Lost again," he murmured, but didn't wait for an answer before starting to drag me towards the library. "Fucking nobles," he murmured. "Every single one is a parasite, even the Invalid ones, wasting food while they should be given to monsters."

I quirked my eyebrow as I listened to the rumblings of the servant, curious to see that my supposed shared status as an Invalid not quelling his anger. Maybe because my past self's capabilities were abysmal even in Invalid standards. He was careful to hide his mumbling whenever another student or servant closed in, but apparently, I didn't count. I might have ignored it, but maintaining my silence added another five points to my subterfuge skill. Tempted, I pressed the skills button as the servant deposited me at the entrance, checking my full status.

Things were finally looking up for me…

—————

[Level: 2 Experience: 1200 / 3000

Strength: 6 Charisma: 6

Precision: 6 Perception: 7

Agility: 6 Manipulation: 6

Speed: 6 Intelligence: 6

Endurance: 7 Wisdom: 16

HP: 59 / 62 Mana: 82 / 82 ]

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SKILLS

[Basic Subterfuge (15/25) ]

Leveling through Lust Chapter 1: Awakening
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