The documents were full of strategies to be used while on a mission. Do x when y happens and the like. There was only one page that spoke about where the meeting is supposed to take place, of course it was near the edge of the city. Association used military installations as bases, most decided to live in barracks where there was easy access to trainers and a safe place to train. Something that I wanted for myself, not to mention that I wouldn’t have to pay for an apartment anymore.
On another page there was information about known monsters in surrounding areas. Weak points were described as well as weapons best used to kill them. Guns were effective against everything found in the 50 kilometers radius to the city, but they were not the best option for scouts. Spears were preferred for larger targets, while bows were to be used against smaller ones. It was weird that guns were not preferred weapons, but I guess that scouts and loud guns didn’t act well in pairs.
Oh it was another page that explained the reasoning for the choice of weapons, monsters were attracted to the sounds, typical. The bows that are distributed to Scout’s for free are military grade compound bows, though the military provides only normal arrows. The Army also provides free gear, survival rations and of course training.
They are getting ready for a war.
[Meditation] is now level 15. You have gained 1 Path point. Increases mana regeneration by 15% while the skill is active.
[Ranged Weapon Mastery] is now level 12. You have gained 1 Path point. Increases handling of the ranged weapons. Increases Dexterity while using ranged weapons by 12%.
One of my online friends sent me a few videos that were hard to find on public sites, it was footage from the attack of the island that was massacred. Governments were actively deleting such content to stop panic from spreading, to a mild effect.
The only emotion that I felt while watching them was fear, dozens of monsters at least thirty meters tall crushing everything in their path. How are humans supposed to fight back against those?
I packed up, informed the apartment owner that I am moving out, though I left most of my possessions at the apartment. Somehow it was like saying goodbye to my old life, where I moved out and moved to a city to be independent. All the useless things that I have bought, the PC that I bought for my first hard earned money, clothes that I will never wear again. All of it useless now, it would only weigh me down.
I left early in the morning, with a single bag on my back. I headed straight to the military base.
The base itself was quite small, two hundred people at most called it their home. Four warehouses, two smaller metal buildings and tents, at least a hundred of tents.
“Papers and ID.” One of the guards at the entrance said. The base was surrounded by a metal mesh fence, with two gates. Army put multiple bases at the periphery of the cities, allegedly all had two gates, one faced the city and the other faced away from it. The guard checked the papers and said. “Go to the small building to the left, you will get your assignment there.”
There were a few dozen people lazing about, all in military gear. Only some had guns though, most had bows. Most likely the most of the base was designated for Association.
“Halt.” Another guard, this time guarding the entrance to the building. “Papers and ID.” Ugh, I already dislike it here. He let me enter the building a minute later.
The first thing I did was to hand over my papers and ID to yet another man, this time behind the desk. The man took them without a word and started working. I just stood there saying nothing for a few more minutes before he spoke.
“Don't lose this.” He gave me a new card with an Association logo, it had my data on it. Typical adventurer card. The quartermaster, as I later found out, sent me to one of the warehouses to get my gear, and a new home in the form of a large tent.
“ID.” The soldier in charge of a warehouse said and extended his hand to me, palm up. I expected that and quickly handed him my card, he gave it back without even glancing at it. I smiled a bit at his antics.
The soldier, called Jake, gave me two pairs of clothes in a military fashion and of good quality, two pairs of boots, compound bow, two quivers with twenty arrows each, a large bag containing the tent and cloak with a hood. I was also given a bag with field supplies, small shovel, a military knife and “The cloak is for rain, you are not meant to wear it all the time.” Jake said with annoyance on his face. I wonder how many eighteen years old kids signed for the Association to act as if they are heroes. I hoped he tried to joke.
I was led to a place where I was supposed to set up my tent, as Jake expected I had no idea how to so he tagged along. I bet almost no one does. That was where I first met my team.
Garry and Warren were brothers, both similar to each other but not twins. Mediocre height, dark brown hair, brown eyes, the usual look. Similar to my own really, none of us stand out from the crowd. They joined the Association two weeks ago when they came from the countryside and needed a place to stay and money. Their village was attacked by a few small monsters and their family decided to leave for the city. Nothing special. They helped me to set up my tent.
“Tomorrow morning we set out to the forest, get used to shooting the bow, it will be useful.” Garry advised, I decided to follow it and headed towards the archery range, well it was a cleared field with a wooden wall behind some targets. It was wide and long with at least ten people using it at the moment.
It was quite easy to draw the bow and once I released the string the arrow hit the target. Or rather it hit the outer rim of the target that was barely fifty meters away from me. That one shot took seven stamina away from me, according to those who tested stamina use, the more strength was used, the more stamina was used. Throwing knives took less strength, but they are much easier to throw, and deal less damage. Not to mention that their range is a lot smaller. I shot another arrow. It was time to grind some more.
[Ranged Weapon Mastery] is now level 13. You have gained 1 Path point. Increases handling of the ranged weapons. Increases Dexterity while using ranged weapons by 13%.
[Meditation] is now level 16. You have gained 1 Path point. Increases mana regeneration by 16% while the skill is active.
The next day in the morning I was ready to head to the forest. Garry and Warren went with me, as a team.
“Do you have any advanced skills?” It was Garry that asked the question as we walked through the forest a few kilometers away from the city, there were no forests closer to the city and plains were patrolled by drones and car patrols. I had no idea what he spoke about. “Once you max a skill you get a Path corresponding to it, if you finish two paths corresponding to the skill and perform a feat you will get an advanced skill. Do you have any?” I didn’t know about that, there was no mention of that online.
“I have maxed out [Running] and finished both paths, but I haven’t unlocked any additional skills.” I responded honestly, why would I not? “Do you know what feat is needed for that skill?” I asked hopefully. Garry shook his head, and it was Warren who responded. “We know that [Bow Mastery] is unlocked once you finish [Ranged Weapon Mastery] paths, the feat needed for it is to kill twenty monsters with a bow” I focused more on both Garry and Warren as we spoke.
“You will need to ask around.” Garry added, though there was no need for him to do so. We spoke quietly, Garry and Warren always wary of the surroundings.
Warren raised his hand and we all immediately stopped. “Small one to the north.” He whispered. We creeped slowly a few more meters and finally saw it. It was a dog-like creature. With pink wrinkled skin that had no fur, it’s face was too round for a dog though. It was digging a hole by the tree and biting through the roots. Why did it do that?
“William, take care of it.” I nodded once my name was called and readied my bow, we had them in our hands all the time. Taking the arrow from the quiver slowly to not make a sound I nocked it. I pulled the string slowly, taking my time to aim. A good archer is supposed to release the arrow almost immediately to conserve his strength but I had stamina to spare. I wanted to be sure I hit.
I shot and the arrow penetrated the side of the small monster soon after. I got no notification, but it fell to the ground and stopped moving after a few seconds. “Good shot, though you sure took your time.” Garry said.
I remember that in the stories a first fight is always tense, scenes full of blood, gore and suspense with MC surviving by a hair breath. I preferred it to be simple and quick, and above all safe.
We came closer to the fallen body and Garry pulled a knife out, he stabbed it at the neck of the monster and used his fingers to pull out a small round ball. “Some people call it ‘cores’, it can be used during meditation to boost mana regeneration, I suggest you use most of them yourself.” He tossed me the ball, which I barely caught. “This one is yours as it is your first, all the next ones will be shared equally.”
We moved soon after and left the body behind, we had no use for it anyway. According to multiple sources it will turn to dust in about twenty four hours.
We killed seven more dogs, two hares and even a weird rat. “Small cores are worth around fifty dollars each and the price is always rising, bigger ones are worth more but we haven’t seen monsters bigger than dogs in these forests. Further away are boars and bears, but it’s not worth going so far.” Garry said.
Warren often stayed quiet and concentrated on the surrounding forest. He told me that he had a skill [Detect Presence] that he got from [Path of Wisdom], out of three of us he was the only true ‘scout’, me and Garry were just an additional muscle.
“Those hares and the rats don’t have any?.” I asked remembering that Garry didn’t search through the smaller bodies.
“There are some metals in their bodies, but they are spread all around their bodies and almost impossible to collect.” He answered.
Soon after we were walking on the road back to the city. Warren gave me two more small cores as my cut. The seventh one will be split later once we have more cores. Garry said that they themselves are using most cores to regenerate mana and that [Meditation] levels faster while using it. Something to keep in mind.