Ronan felt a light assaulting his senses as he tried to open his eyes. With difficulty, he sluggishly sat up and looked around only to see a sea of tents around him with many crude-looking people moving around hurriedly. The scene was weirdly familiar and confusing at the same time
He somehow felt this was normal, but his reason was telling him otherwise. These people wore medieval clothes, had crude armor, and spoke in an unfamiliar language that he could somehow understand.
Ronan tried to calm down, but the last thing he could remember was going to sleep in the hospital's duty room. As a surgical fellow, he was on the night shift.
Now he was in a situation that he would have thought of as a dream, but the various sounds, the weird smells, and oddly familiar surroundings meant that this was not a dream. It was something real, and he had no idea how this was possible.
As he sat there looking dumbly at everything happening around him, a boy came around the corner of his eye and said, “Ronan, Are you still sleeping? Today is the day of the job assignment, and you still have time to laze around. Let's go to the office to meet the Reserve officer. We can maybe get a better job if we look sincere.”
‘Kaleb’ a name came to his mind before he could think who he was. He somehow knew instinctively that this boy was a long-time friend of his.
Ronan stood up without thinking and followed Kaleb as he tried to figure out what was happening. As they passed through narrow lanes surrounded by tents, he was now sure that whatever was happening was truly happening. It felt way too real to be a dream.
The more bewildering thing was himself. Ronan was so caught up with his surroundings that he failed to realize that he was now in the body of a child no older than Kaleb, even though he looked a bit smaller.
The way his body moved felt natural, but the height difference made him slightly disoriented. Nevertheless, as he followed Kaleb, listening to his gossip, he understood that they were now in the Albus village of the Albus mercenaries.
As orphans raised by the village, both had no family and thus needed to work starting from ten. However, the children can only work in non-combat roles until thirteen.
Ronan tried to grasp as much information as possible while trying his best to appear normal. Soon enough, they reached the office of the Reserve officer.
A dozen children of similar age were already waiting.
“Damn,” Kaleb cursed under his breath. “The appointment time is still an hour away, and all of them are already here."
He then chose a corner and waited. Ronan followed along and stood behind him as he observed the kids and his surroundings.
One thing that instantly attracted his attention as a doctor was their physique. Ronan thought Kaleb was an exception, but all the boys were bigger for their age. One of them, called Derek, was over 5 feet tall and appeared quite muscular. It was uncommon for ten-year-old kids to be so well developed.
There was something weird about them and this place. The ambiance and the culture looked similar to the medieval period somewhere in Europe.
The dominant skin color was white, but he saw several brownish men, and a kid in front of him looked like he was of East Asian descent.
A mercenary group could have gathered people of various ethnicities but the lack of technology meant people had limited access to transportation.
Then how did all these people gather here, and how could they all speak the same language? Ronan could at least identify major languages due to dealing with all kinds of patients, but this didn't sound even remotely similar.
As Ronan stood there thinking, a guard finally appeared and said, “Come in.”
The guard looked like he couldn’t be bothered and disappeared into the office. Kaleb and others looked at each other while Derek grinned and entered first. The others followed shortly. Ronan was the last to enter the office.
As soon as he entered, Ronan realized that it was pretty big, with partitions further behind. The guards stood right beside the entrance, and the temperature was comfortable compared to the chilly climate outside.
A middle-aged man sat behind a desk and looked engrossed in his papers but, no one dared to disturb him, and after a few minutes, he slowly put them down and looked at the group.
He looked tired, but his eyes were sharp.
“It is that time of the year again. How many of you are eligible for jobs?” He asked calmly.
Derek took a step forward, automatically assuming the leader position, and said, “Sir, there are Thirteen scheduled to report this year. All of us are present.”
Matleb looked around, counting with his eyes, and nodded.
“Alright. What job do you guys want? I will give it to you as long as they are available.”
“Sir, I want to be allocated to training camp,” Derek said immediately.
Ronan remembered what Kaleb said.
Training camp was in charge of the daily training of the mercenaries. Even though the kids below the age of thirteen were not allowed in combat duties, being allocated to training camp meant that they could learn from the warriors and even the leaders. It would be very beneficial to their future.
Matleb nodded and said, “Alright, You can join the training camp, Derek."
Shortly, the other kids said their choices.
As others began to ask for their desired job, Ronan’s attention was grabbed by the words ’Medical camp'. As a doctor, anything related to medicine had a special place in his heart. Also, it was the only skill Ronan most definitely possessed.
So he immediately took his chance and asked for a job at the medical camp.
Matleb nodded and said, “There is a shortage in all places except training camp. Everyone else will get their desired jobs. Those who didn’t get into training camp should choose another job.”
Some kids reluctantly chose other Jobs. Matleb wrote down the names of all the kids and stamped his orders.
Ronan received a paper with the stamp of the Reserve officer allocating him to the medical camp. He was shocked by its quality. It wasn't as good as modern paper, but it was pretty good. Considering that each individual received a separate paper meant that it wasn't too valuable either.
Ronan had to reassess the technology of this era. He didn’t see the guards holding any guns. By the 15th century, many places on earth had firearms or, at least the early variants.
The Reserve officer was an important position. It made sense that his guards would have some guns. However, Ronan could not eliminate the possibility that they had gun powder but no firearms. Then it could be anywhere between the 10th to 13th centuries.
However, the paper he received was made from wood which wasn’t invented until the 19th century. Paper until then was coarse and made of plant and textile fibers. This weird dissociation in history was nagging Ronan’s heart as he felt that he was missing something important.
“Alright, that will be all.” Matleb's words drew Ronan back to the present as he continued. “You have to report by afternoon.”
All the kids made their way out of the office and went their own way.
Kaleb looked at Ronan and said, “I’ll see you later, buddy. Good luck.” Before Ronan could respond, he was long gone.
Only one person remained behind. A girl also chose the medical camp. Ronan greeted her politely, and she greeted back. Then they made their way to the camp. Ronan was still cautious of what he could say because he didn’t want to expose himself
Slowly they came to a place that smelled like a garden. Four greenhouses came into view as he went into the yard.
Ronan was again struck with the unfamiliarity as the greenhouses of this size were normal in his era. Many hobby farmers had them, but to see them in this era was almost impossible. Then how did they exist? Did the history lie, or were the medieval people more advanced than they thought.
Ronan went to the Camp office and handed over his reporting orders to an elderly clerk, who confirmed them and assigned them their jobs.
Ronan was ordered to clean some tubers in a nearby stream while Ten was posted to a greenhouse.
Ronan didn’t think much about the task until he saw the quantity he was responsible for. They looked similar to carrots but were brown and had a lot of mud stuck on them. He was supposed to wash them by hand, and there was a limit of how much he could carry.
Ronan was given until the evening to finish the task. If he was a ten-year-old, then he might have been disheartened, but he could see that this work was impossible to do from the beginning.
It could only mean that either the work conditions were disastrous or the task itself was a kind of test to see the nature of the recruits. Ronan didn’t want to stand out, but he needed some protection to survive this current era.
It was a chance to impress the higher-ups, and quickly move up in the medical camp. Otherwise, there is a possibility that he might be stuck doing menial labor for years.
So Ronan made up his mind to do as much work as possible. Even if he can’t complete this task, As long as he showed that he had the willpower to try, that should be enough.
So for the rest of the day, he focused on completing his task wholeheartedly.
At around 6 pm as the sun was setting. Ronan was struggling with sweat drenching his entire shirt. He reached his limits and had to give up. As he sat down exhausted, Ronan saw the elderly clerk from before approaching him with a smile on his face.
Ronan knew he had achieved his mission, but he still showed a panicked expression.
The clerk's smile broadened as he saw Ronan's expression and said, "Good job."
Ronan showed a puzzled expression and then smiled gratefully. It was never a good thing to appear too intelligent for his age. He had to maintain a steady image of a hard-working kid. However, he also needed to show some of his intelligence to gain the favor of his superiors.
"Sir, who are you?" Ronan asked cautiously.
The man was amused by Ronan's question and answered, "I'm a clerk."
Ronan could see the mischievousness in his eyes, so he hesitantly said, "Sir, I don't think you look like a clerk. If I may so, I think you're a doctor."
A man with sharp eyes, a confident demeanor, and the mischievousness to give these impossible tasks cannot be a clerk. Ronan thought. Doctors had a prominent status in any time of history, and Ronan would be glad to work under one.
The man laughed and asked, "Do you want to learn under me?"
Ronan immediately said, "It would be an honor, sir."
Even though the man didn't confirm his suspicions, his reply meant the same.
The man nodded and said, "Alright, you can report to my office starting tomorrow. My name is Dr.Virat and, you'll be one of my aides. This prank was probably a little too much and, you'll probably be sore for a few days. I'll give this fruit as an apology. It is a special fruit. Try eating it."
Ronan took the fruit and thanked hurriedly as Dr.Virat left. It looked like a pear but didn't appear any special. However, he was hungry and tired, so he just ate it while going back home. Ronan was smiling as he achieved his goal.
He was already promoted from the menial labor. It was a good start.
By the time he reached his place, a strange feeling surfaced in his body.
It wasn't unpleasant, and he felt relaxed as if he was enjoying a vacation. His body felt warm. The fatigue of the work just disappeared, and he felt energetic again.
“What the hell is happening?” Ronan felt bewildered all of a sudden.
Whatever was happening to him was going against everything he learned about the human body as a doctor. There is no way he should be feeling energetic after a day of hard work.
"What was that fruit?” Ronan questioned himself, but his words were stuck in his throat as his eyes gazed at the sky.
The sun was setting, and the light was fading but what made him tremble was another object in the sky that everyone was familiar with – the moon. Not one, but two moons.
He swallowed in trepidation as he hoped that he was hallucinating, and this was probably a dream, but as the time passed, the light from the sun completely disappeared and, replacing it was two moons hovering in the sky.
Many clues throughout the day told him that something was weird about this place. The technology felt jumbled, some more developed than others. And now, the two moons gave Ronan another possibility that he hadn't thought of at all. He was not on earth.
Ronan previously had the confidence to survive anything. He didn't panic at the unprecedented situation he was in. He calmed himself and made plans to slowly establish himself as a medical aide and rise through the ranks to become a doctor.
Slowly, he would reveal bits of medical knowledge from the future and make himself more important than the others. By doing so, he would have a decent position in this era and live a peaceful life as a doctor.
Now, the two moons in the sky shattered his reality. He now knew he was in another world, something so different and yet similar to earth. He knew nothing about it, but the strange fruit and the unexpected effects it brought told him that there was more to this world than what he thought.
His life was now beyond his control, and it made him anxious for the first time. His heart was beating wildly. He knew that he would now face unknown risks, and his future was uncertain. But, somehow, despite the anxiety and fear, he also felt another emotion deep within him, Curiosity.
A world of magic awaited him.