Sam was woken by voices early in the morning. In the darkness, he got out of bed and stumbled towards the room’s door. Faint light was flickering from the other side.

He opened the door to see Jeremy standing with a candle in his hands.

“Pa. Sam’s awake.” Jeremy spoke softly whilst giving Sam a nod in greeting. Jerald soon arrived with his own candle. He looked at Sam and spoke with a smile.

“Morning, didn’t expect to see you this early. Would you like to join Jeremy and I?”

Sam blinked to try fight off the weariness and replied.

“I can Uncle. What will you two be doing?”

Jeremy grinned eagerly and replied before Jerald could.

“Moving logs, really heavy logs.”


After been given some new clothes, which belonged to Jeremy, Sam got dressed and followed the father and son. Sam noticed that the clothes he had been given were much more worn than the previous set. They were farmers so it made sense. He felt bad for belittling the previous clothes he had been given, it was obvious that as farmers they didn’t have a lot of money.

Back on Earth, Sam had lived in a middle income family. His parents had divorced when he was young so his siblings were all stepbrothers and stepsisters. He hadn’t been very close to them. He had been closer to his friends from school.

Jerald, Jeremy and Sam had all quickly eaten some kind of hard and, in Sam’s opinion, stale cereal with full cream milk. The milk was very rich and Sam knew he would have to get used to it over time. The milk he had had his whole life has been processed and refined before he bought it at the supermarket.

During the quiet breakfast Jeremy asked Sam a question. His voice was full of curiosity.

“Sam, do you have the Labour Mastery?”

With a mouthful of cereal, Sam shook his head. He didn’t know what the Labour Mastery was. He guessed it was relating to physical labour? His mind wandered as he thought about what it would mean in a world of magic. What other Masteries were there?
Jerald and Jeremy had looked at each other and then smiled knowingly.

After breakfast, they had headed to the barn. Jerald spoke as they walked.

“We are in the process of reinforcing and mending portions of the fence. Your help is appreciated but without a high amount of Strength you won’t be able to help much. You will need to work on making yourself stronger first but only if you want to. If you don’t want to, I am sure you can help Annabelle with some other tasks.”

Jerald looked at Sam, his signature frown appearing.

Sam knew next to nothing about the world around him and this family of farmers was his only hope right now. He nodded and replied with a smile.

“I think getting stronger would be good. Your family has given me a bed to sleep in and food to eat which I am very grateful for and I want to contribute. If I was stronger, I would also be able to defend myself if I need to fight.”

A small smile occurred on Jerald lips as he replied.

“Fight? The farms around Haventown don’t have many enemies, maybe bandits and wild beasts but that’s about it. The Labour Mastery will make you stronger through skills like [Hardship] but the Labour Mastery encourages non-combat labour.”

Jerald paused and looked at his son.

“Jeremy, what are your thoughts on training Sam to unlock the Labour Mastery. [Hardship] is a useful skill, especially to start with.”

Jeremy nodded and answered. “I agree father. Watching someone hold logs all day is the best kind of entertainment.”

The father and son laughed at the inside joke.

The laughter died down as they arrived at the side of the barn. In front of them was a huge collection of logs that were stacked neatly on top of each other. From what Sam saw, they were mostly thick branches and trunks of trees. None of them had been shaped into planks or poles.

“Uncle, where did you get all the wood from?”

Jerald replied with a smile, pleased at Sam’s interest.

“Some of it comes from the neighbouring farms, we trade the farmers for them or Jeremy and I go to the pond and cut down some of the oaks.”

Jeremy nodded proudly and walked over to one of the logs. He picked it up with ease and walked over to Sam, offering it to him. Jeremy had a smirk on his face.

Sam chuckled. There was no way he could pick it up. He doubted he had even met anyone his age that could. Maybe some of those body builders or weight lifters could.

Jeremy didn’t seem to move away so Sam grabbed onto the end. The log was the trunk of a small tree and was much heavier than Sam had thought.

He looked at Jerald, hoping for some help.
“Jeremy, he won’t be able to practice with a log of that size. Let me help.”

Jeremy frowned in mild disappointment as his father cut the log into quarters with his bare hands. Sam didn’t get enough time to even process how bizarre it was to see a human chopping wood like butter. His time was cut short by a piece of wood sailing through the air towards him.

Jerald had thrown a quarter of the log at Sam. It seemed Jerald had overestimated Sam’s strength. Despite trying to catch it, Sam was knocked to the ground by the log. He was winded and wheezed as he trying to get air back into his lungs.

Jerald walked over quickly and apologised.

“Sorry Sam, clearly I have spent too much time with Jeremy. You must take it easy. Start with one of these smaller logs and practice. You can move up to the larger logs later.”

With a pat on the back, he helped Sam to his feet. Sam rubbed his chest, hoping he hadn’t broken something.

“Jeremy, I am going to start moving the wood. Please can you teach Sam what he needs to know so he can begin practicing?”

“Yes Pa. I will.”

Jerald left, leaving Sam with Jeremy. Jeremy gave Sam a smile before he began explaining the Labour Mastery.

“The Labour Mastery provides great Strength and Stamina bonuses. The skills and abilities from the Mastery can make carrying a heavy object like these tree trunks, quite easy. The Labour Mastery is a non-combat mastery but can help combat by permanently increasing your strength and stamina. It rewards hard labour, endurance and perseverance above all else.”

Jeremy had then quickly moved on to show Sam what he had to do. Sam had hoped to gain more information about the Labour Mastery but decided not to pry. If he could unlock the Labour Mastery, he could study it as much as he wanted.

Sam’s task for the day was holding up a piece of the tree trunk. It seemed simple but Jeremy explained he would be doing all day without rest. The prospect seemed very daunting.

After showing him a good stance to spread the weight of the log, Jeremy gave Sam the log. It was heavy but bearable. Sam knew he would struggle over time but he would still try his best.

“I am going to go join Pa and help with the fence. We will be moving back and forth all day between the fences and barn so if you have any problems let us know.”

Jeremy started walking away. He spoke loudly as he picked up a few logs at once.

“Don’t forget. You have to show endurance by persevering through hardship. You won’t unlock the Labour Mastery if you don’t.”

With those words, Jeremy left.


At the end of the first hour, Sam was in pain. His muscles were burning and protesting against him. He was not surprised, he wasn’t very strong. If he was to compare, he had been just below average for his year at school. He hadn’t done weight lifting like some of the others in his class; some of his friends had said they stunted your growth as a teenager. Sam didn’t know if what they said was true but he had always thought he had years ahead of him, years where he could lift weights and try many other interesting things. He had even thought of joining a sports club at university, if he had got in.

He shook his head. He had to focus on the present, which didn’t happen to be very pleasant.

At the two hour mark, he was dead on his feet. His muscles were in a strange limbo between numbness and pain. He felt like his muscles were not usable, like they had become completely rigid and immobile. At the same time, they protested with pain and aches.

Jerald and Jeremy had returned several times during the day, they often headed off in opposite directions. Sam guessed to go to different parts of the farm’s fence.

Watching both of them carry many logs at once, sealed Sam’s opinion that their strength was inhuman. Their strength was definitely not natural in any regard and Sam wondered if he would be able to achieve such strength in the future.

The day passed with Jerald and Jeremy spending the time going back and forth with a few breaks. During one of the breaks, Jeremy gave Sam some water and beef jerky. Jeremy showed Sam different techniques to shift the weight of the log in order to rest different groups of muscles. After practicing Sam found it helped quite a lot.

Sam had been about to stop before Jeremy had showed him the techniques. When Sam mentioned this, Jeremy told him that stopping would hurt his chances of unlocking the Labour Mastery.

Sam continued throughout the morning and into the afternoon. He was sweating heavily despite being in the shade of the barn and his arms felt like they were going to snap from the weight. Whenever his muscles would be unable to take the load or threatened to cramp he used the techniques that Jeremy taught him to shift the weigh to another part of his body.

In the late afternoon, the log suddenly felt lighter and the pain became more manageable. The sensations were followed by some messages.

Labour Mastery unlocked.

Labour Mastery: Hardship level 1 gained. 1 Mastery point awarded.

Sam was ecstatic. All he had to do was hold a log for a day and he gained a Mastery!
He was excited to study the Labour Mastery. He hoped it was interesting, especially the new skill that he had gained. Sam wondered if he could achieve another level if he continued.

With renewed motivation, Sam continued. Sam felt like his muscles had gotten stronger, even by a small margin. The exhaustion and muscle fatigue was definitely still there but it just felt like he could hold out a bit longer than before.

After an hour, Jerald and Jeremy returned. It looked to be the end of the day for them because they returned with pieces of wood that hadn’t been used or had to be cut into awkward shapes. Jerald began forming a new pile of wood where the old one used to be.

The sun would soon set and for Sam, it had been a long and hard day. Jeremy walked up to him whilst Jerald was organising the pieces of wood.

Jeremy had small smile on his face, amused at Sam’s suffering.

"So Sam, how was your first day of training?"

Sam groaned. His breathe was coming out in short sharp breathes.

"It is so tiring and my muscles are in pain. I don’t think I can hold out for much longer.”

"I have felt the same feeling many times before so don’t give up. If you want to learn faster, I can help… but there will be a price."

Jeremy lowered his voice a little so Jerald couldn’t hear him.
Sam looked at Jeremy with interest and a raised eyebrow, "Name the price."

"There are some traps I have to set up in the forest tomorrow. Doing it by myself is a bit boring. If you join me and help, I would appreciate it.”

"Ok. That doesn’t sound too bad. I hope I can get out of bed in the morning though. How can you help me learn faster?"

Jeremy didn’t answer but instead closed his eyes. Jeremy’s hands began to glow with yellow light; it grew stronger and stronger until Jerald opened his eyes.

Jeremy walked over to Sam and put his hands on his shoulders.

"Lesser Healing.”

The healing magic coursed through Sam's body, relieving him of pain and stiffness. Sam smiled as the pleasant pain relief coursed through his body.

Jeremy stepped back looking exhausted.

"Ok, that is the first step. You should be able to continue for a bit longer now. Next, you will need a bigger log. What you are using now isn’t heavy enough."

Jeremy walked over to the pile of wood which Jerald had just finished organising. They exchanged some words and Jerald began walking towards the house.

“See you inside Sam. Don’t push yourself too hard or you may injure yourself.”

With those words, Jerald left.

Jeremy soon returned to Sam’s side holding a log double the size of what Sam had been holding.

He took Sam’s current log and threw aside. Sam sighed in relief. With the weight gone, Sam felt better. Jeremy quickly gave Sam the larger log.

Sam was worried about the size and weight of the larger piece of wood. He didn’t think he would be able to hold it, especially in his tired state. Jeremy didn’t seem concerned though and helped Sam support the weight as the log was placed into his hands.

Whilst supporting the log with his left arm, Jeremy placed his right arm on Sam’s shoulder. Jeremy began saying phrases and Sam felt magic fill the air and energize his body.

Sam heard Jeremy say the words ‘Lighten Load’ and then the log suddenly became much lighter. It felt lighter than the previous log. Sam grinned stupidly; this was going to be easy.

After Jeremy was done, he stepped away.
Sam felt stronger, full of energy and the log felt as light as air.

"That helped a lot. Thank you!"

Jeremy shook his head and chuckled.

"Don’t thank me yet. You have thirty minutes until the Lighten Load ability ends. Use that time to find a rhythm, the key part of endurance is the mental battle. Do whatever you can to distract yourself. I would recommend distracting yourself with your Masteries. There is a lot of information you can miss without looking carefully. Good luck Sam. I am going to head inside. "

Sam's eyes grew wide. The news that he only had 30 minutes of the feather weight log was not good, especially since the log was much heavier. Jeremy's advice was useful but he didn't know how to view the Masteries.

Sam spoke as Jeremy was walking to exit the barn.

"How do I see the Masteries?"

Jeremy shook his head and looked at Sam like he had asked a stupid question. Jeremy still responded though.

"Think: Masteries List. Also works on attributes. See you in the morning Sam."

Sam grinned.
There were also attributes? What were the attributes?
Sam decided to find out about the Attributes list first and shouted excitedly.

"Attributes list!"

A note from twigthe1st

Sorry about the delay. This chapter kept growing so I ended up splitting it up.

Hope you are enjoying the chapters so far <img src=">

About the author


Bio: I enjoy writing. It is a outlet I use to flex my creative muscles :)
I am currently writing my first web novel called The Mastery System.

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