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A note from Kyfe

Yesterday's chapter was early because my wife needed to work on the computer during my normal writing time hours. I will eventually reach a stage where I release my chapters at a consistent time, but that won't likely happen until after the Writathon Challenge is concluded.

"Left, right, left, right..."

The uninspired marching cadence washed over him as Reivyn trudged along, lost in a sea of youths. Despite how incredibly easy it was to simply match the foot fall to the call of left and right, only about half of the conscripts were consistently managing it. He would face-palm if he could.

How are they not able to do it. It takes effort to get this wrong.

The group of teenagers had spent all morning "marching" back and forth. When the Knight-Captain had said everyone had an hour to say goodbye and to be ready to move out as soon as exactly one hour had passed, he had assumed they were going to set off to Magron immediately. That had not been the case. They had moved a couple of miles out of town and then set up camp. There had been two explanations given: The rookies needed to acquire the March Skill, and they were waiting for the contingents that had gone to the surrounding smaller villages to pick up more levies.

The farthest local village was three days walking distance. Factor in a day of rest for that group, they would likely acquire the March Skill on the way, and they had four days to practice. At the rate they were going, Reivyn didn't have any confidence everyone would get the Skill in that time.

The group walked around, back and forth, until it was a little after noon. At that time, the one overseeing the marching called them to a halt and dispersed them for lunch, or "chow" as he put it.

Reivyn quickly found Teilon amongst the group, and the two friends walked together towards the area designated as the "chow hall." It was just a table with the food being served on it next to a tent. Everyone was expected to simply find a spot to plop down on the ground to eat.

Other than the group of fresh conscripts, the camp was surprisingly orderly. The soldiers had chopped some trees down, expanding a small clearing they had walked to, and built a small pallisade with a ditch. Upon a question from one of the newbies, it was standard procedure every time they set up camp, and it wasn't unheard of for soldiers and levies to gain the Skills Woodworking and Construction {Labor}.

With dreams filled with ambushes and night raids, this practice made perfect sense to Reivyn.

The armored troops that had come to fetch them were clearly professionals, and ones who took their job seriously; however, there were only so many resources a Count could sink into his military before he risked bankrupting himself. Thus the need to bolster their numbers with levies when the situation called for it. Whatever the situation that called for it in this instance had not been communicated to them, and Reivyn wasn't sure if it ever would. A noble didn't have to explain himself to the rabble.

The chow was a hard biscuit, some gruel, and a single piece of jerky, The bread was so dense, Reivyn felt his Weapons Master Skill kick in when he gripped it. Reivyn glanced around and saw most of the youngsters placing the wheat brick to the side, disdaining to break their teeth trying to consume the food. A quick glance to the professional showed the proper way to eat it was to water down the gruel and soak it up with the bread.

Those guys are gonna regret it, Reivyn thought to himself as he quickly copied the soldiers. He poked Teilon in the side and gestured at his tray. Teilon gave a thumbs up and followed suit. The bread, water, gruel mix, while individually was not much to write home about, wasn't too bad when all mixed together.

It made sense when he thought about it. The officers would want to provide as many calories as quickly as possible for the troops, and they would have a riot on their hands if the field rations, when not in a combat situation, were consistently, actually crap. Coupled with Skill levels, even if the cooks weren't Classed to actually focus on cooking, a consistent practice would eventually lead to subpar ingredients tasting at least average. And there was nothing to say that the underlying ingredients were subpar. It was just that the recipe was atrocious.

The meal was quickly consumed, and the same soldier who had led them in Marching returned with six others following after him. He confirmed that everyone had finished eating and signalled for them to follow him and the other soldiers. The recruits quickly deposited their trays back on the table, and they made their way over to one of the wagons where the man in charge was waiting for them.

"You will address me as Sergeant Mok, or just Sergeant," Sergeant Mok addressed the crowd. "First we will distribute the gear. Step forward, take the form handed to you, place your token on the seal in the top right corner, hand the form back, and receive your gear. The token will automatically fill the form in for you. You will receive one pack and one spear, and the pack will contain everything you will need except armor. As Peasant Levies, you will only receive a gambeson and a leather helmet upon reaching the barracks in Magron."

The soldiers were, like with everything else they had done up until now, quick and efficient. Two of them handed out forms, two of them handed out packs, two of them handed out spears, and the sergeant and one other ushered the young men and women to move faster, faster, faster.

After everyone had their gear, they were directed to assemble just outside the pallisade. The group loosely formed a semi-circle and sat down cross-legged.

"We will now have a brief period of classroom instruction followed by weapons practice," Sergeant Mok declared. "And when I say weapons, I mean Spear. That's all you'll need to know for the foreseeable future."

Reivyn looked down at the spear he had been issued. It was slightly superior to a sturdy, pointed stick. It was seven feet long, and it was made entirely of wood. There was no metal reinforcement or tip. This was clearly a more dangerous training weapon and not a weapon of war. Many of the recruits came from backgrounds with parents who had Lifestyle Classes, and not knowing the difference, there was some excitement on their faces. They chattered with their friends and neighbors about the prospect of learning Skills from a Combat Class, even if that Class was only Peasant Levy.

"Quiet," Sergeant Mok intoned. "I'm sure many of you are wondering why we conscripted you and not the Tier 2 Classes who are already full adults. The answer to that is simple. The vast majority of you are more than half-way through your Tier 1 Class, and thus almost considered a full adult yourself. I can spot a few that are an exception to this, but your Stats should compensate for the difference, as we specifically only recruited those who had a Vitality of 20 or higher. This is typically an indication of training, or, in some rare instances, one of extreme talent.

"The second reason is the fact that you all are only Tier 1. Peasant Levy is a Tier 2 Common Class. I'm sure that most of you have noticed by now in your Status Page that you have not been prematurely upgraded to Tier 2, but that Peasant Levy has instead replaced your Citizen Tier 1 Class, and that it is listed as Uncommon. This is because it is a Tier 2 Class, and in the instance that one is forcibly awarded a Class a Tier above them, the System considers it to be one Rarity Level higher.

"As far as anyone is aware, conscription is the only known method of forcibly awarding a Tier 2 Class ahead of time.

"If we had conscripted Tier 2's, their original Class would have been over-written, and once their term is up, they would have to visit a Priest to remove the Class and start over at level 1. We only do such a thing in an emergency.

"Your new, Uncommon Class retroactively awards the unassigned Stat points, and this is another reason we only conscript Tier 1's. It allows for a slightly stronger Tier 2, once it is achieved, and it is a form of compensation. You will receive pay, as you are not slaves, but if you can receive an award at no cost to the noble in charge, why not? It's good management."

All of the questions that had been floating around in Reivyn's head had been answered with the explanation. Considering the System shenanigans that had resulted in him receiving an Epic rarity Class at Tier 1, Reivyn could imagine that he would be significantly stronger than even he had anticipated.

"Now we will go over some rules and regulations," Sergeant Mok continued. He quickly explained some of rules that now applied to them. Most of them centered around the concept of if you were supposed to be somewhere at a certain time, you had better be there before that time. Many of the rules were familiar to him from his dreams, like properly greeting superiors and instant obedience to orders.

"Now, who here has the Spears Skill?" Sergeant Mok quickly finished going over the rules and moved on to the weapons training.

Reivyn, Teilon, and about forty other teens raised their hands. The number of people who had the Skill didn't surprise Reivyn. There were close to 400 recruits, and it was reasonable that about 10% of them would be Combat Class focused in their training. Most of the ones who trained towards a Combat Class had plans on entering either the City Guard or the military, and a small few had aspirations to become an Adventurer.

"Right, you lot with Corporal Pale," Sergeant Mok directed. "The rest of you break up into groups of approximately 60. Each of us will take a group and instruct you in the Spears Skill."

Reivyn, Teilon, and the other forty or so quickly followed one of the soldiers who waved them over. Reivyn was slightly surprised to see Torhn among the group. He knew that he was a couple of years older, and he had to have been very close to Level 30, the cutoff between Tier 1 and 2. He didn't know if this was a blessing or a curse for the other young man.

"Alright, what's your Skill at?" The man pointed to one of the recruits and asked.

"Nine," came the reply.

"Off to my right," he pointed to his right. "Assume the stance and practice your forms until I sort through everyone. Next."

"Seven," A girl replied. With the System assisting in everyone's development without discrimination, the recruit makeup was pretty close to 50/50. Nobody was surprised by this, because with the System sex discrimination wasn't even a concept for most of civilized society. Even in the most ancient of texts, it had always been that way.

Corporal Pale motioned to his right. "Next."

"Eleven," a boy answered. Corporal Pale gave him a small nod in acknowledgement. Typically reaching a Skill of 10 in a weapons Skill signalled at least a small modicum of competence. He motioned for him to move over to his left.

The group quickly separated into two groups with only six of the youngsters having a Skill Level of ten or higher. Teilon was not among that group, as though he was Combat Class focused in his upbringing, the Spear was not his forté.

Reivyn was the last one to give his answer, but before he could, the corporal turned to the group on his left.

"Alright, you six pair off and commence sparring," He said. He then addressed the other group. "You lot line up and continue practicing your forms. I will provide correction in a moment." He then turned to Reivyn, who, with his smaller than average stature, relative to the older kids at least, stood out. "Ok, little guy, what's your Skill at?"

Reivyn didn't take offence or become indignant or anything at the casual remark. It was simply true. He quickly considered the remark his father had given about the Weapons Master Skill providing a higher mastery level than the typical Skill, so he felt it was alright to embellish the number to his actual level of competency.

"26," he replied. The corporal's eyebrows shot to the roof of his forehead. They threatened to sprout wings and fly away, but he quickly mastered his expression. He cocked his head and assumed a look of yeah, right.

"Prove it," he said.

Reivyn shrugged and got into his stance, gripping the spear appropriately. The other kids stopped their practice to watch him square off against the older man.

Reivyn waited patiently for the corporal, who hadn't planned on actually using a spear at this time because he was in charge of the group that already had the Skill, to retrieve a weapon. As the corporal approached his sparring position, Reivyn noticed a particular glint in his eye and the beginnings of a smirk. He could guess what the man was planning to do, but he wasn't going to let him.

As soon as the man was an appropriate distance away, before he could even bring his weapon up into the proper stance, Reivyn darted forward and attacked. He launched a lightning-quick jab at the man's waist. His opponent quickly took a step back and swung his spear in a hurried parry. Reivyn redirected his attack from a straight jab downward, and as the older man struggled to compensate with his defense, he smoothly transitioned into looping his spear around his opponent's and thrust it towards his face.

Any sign of arrogance or condescension had quickly fallen off of the corporal's face, and he quickly jerked his head back. The motion caused him to raise his spear up horizontally in front of him to maintain his balance. Sweat trickled down the side of his face as the spear tip stopped within an inch of his face.

Reivyn was extended as far as he safely could, so he had to retract his spear to reset his momentum. Years of training against a superior opponent in his father had ingrained in him to never let up on any kind of advantage. While the man was off balance, Reivyn lunged forward and shoulder-checked him, further knocking him off his center as Reivyn perfectly maintained his.

He performed a textbook Spear thrust at the man's midsection as he stumbled. Desperately the man attempted a maneuver that had worked countless times in the past, and he slammed his spear sideways into Reivyn's with exaggerated strength so that he could borrow the momentum to spin around to simultaneously regain his balance and try to regain the initiative.

Reivyn mentally shook his head. Spinning moves might look fancy and work on an unskilled opponent, but it's just a flashy way to get yourself killed against someone who knows what they're doing. Reivyn simply used the same concept, and he borrowed the momentum from the hasty parry to loop his spear back around without even recovering his stance. He near-instantaneously moved his spear point to within an inch of the corporal's expected eye location after his little combat twirl, as his father would call it.

When Corporal Pale turned back towards Reivyn, he instantly froze as his vision was greeted by the spear point, steady as a rock, waiting for him right in front of his face. His back broke out in cold sweat, and he wasn't even able to bring his spear to bear in any kind of way. He was soundly defeated.

Reivyn remained in his stance with his spear point not wavering an inch. He waited for the other man to slowly lower his spear and then step back before he recovered his stance. The corporal scratched the back of his head.

"Well, I guess you proved it," he gave out a weak chuckle. It wasn't that Reivyn was considerably more skilled than him, it was because he had looked down on his opponent and hadn't taken him seriously at all. He had assumed he had been lied to, and he was planning on embarrassing the offender while teaching him a lesson. The facts spoke for themselves, though.

"What other weapons Skills do you have?" The corporal asked.

"What other weapons Skills do you want to know about?" Reivyn retorted.

"Swords."

"26."

"Daggers."

"26."

"Bows."

"26."

"Pugilist."

"26."

The corporal's face slowly went from conversational, as he tried to gauge what he was working with, to shock, and then existential crisis. He quickly glanced at his Skills page. Spears was his highest weapons Skill at 26, also. The others were anywhere in a range from 18 to 24.

He crossed his arms as he considered the predicament in front of him. He shrugged with one arm brought up in front of himself, "Wellll..." he dragged the word out. "I guess I'll give you a rod, and you can help me correct the others practicing their forms?" It was more of a question than a statement, but Reivyn knew it wasn't directed at him. "Yeah, that's what we'll do. Hold on."

The man returned his training spear to where he had acquired it from, and he quickly returned with two rods. They were exactly the same proportion as the rod his father used during their training. He felt a bit strange as he accepted the rod. This would be the first time he had ever used the implement himself.

The other teenagers resumed their practice. They cast furtive glances Reivyn's way, the boys with respect and some of the girls with interest. They whispered to themselves while performing their moves. None of them complained about having a boy younger than them correcting them on their forms. They had all witnessed the exchange clearly for themselves.

The practice went on for about an hour. Most of the recruits only had a smattering of mastery with the weapon, and Reivyn found himself quite busy correcting and offering advice to the others. They all accepted with alacrity, and from the whispered comments, he could tell that a significant portion of those he had personally helped had already seen some Skill growth.

"What are you doing?" A voice cut through his concentration as he helped another conscript. His body locked in the traditional position of Attention from his dreams, and he barked out a response without thinking about it.

"Correcting and instructing, sir!" He didn't know if this was the proper way to behave in this situation, but his body had moved on instinct. The familiar military atmosphere brought out this trained response.

"I can explain, sir," the corporal came running over. Upon glancing over, Reivyn noticed it was the Adjutant that had come to inspect the goings on. The man was a Knight-Lieutenant, which meant he was a commissioned officer. Corporal Pale gestured for Reivyn and the others to continue, and he walked off a short distance from the group. Reivyn's Eavesdropping Skill subconsciously activated, and he was able to hear the conversation.

"Sir, he has a Spears Skill of 26, the same as mine. I didn't believe him at first, but I personally tested him out, and he was telling the truth. If he's to be believed, which, considering his performance, I'm inclined to, he has all of the weapons Skills I do, and they're all higher. Frankly, sir, I have nothing to teach him, and instead of him standing around doing nothing, I figured the best use of his time was to help me correct and instruct those with a Skill below 10," Corporal Pale stood at attention and quickly summarized the events.

"Hmmm," the Adjutant frowned. "Noted. Carry on." He briskly walked away, and Corporal Pale returned to his task.

The Spear training continued for a couple more hours. It was followed by another hour of attempted Marching and then dinner. After dinner the cohort assembled once again to learn how to set up their tents. Their packs contained water-proof treated canvass and some short rods that could be combined to turn into tent poles. They were designed in such a way, two sets could be combined together to form a tent large enough to hold four people sleeping side by side, head to foot.

They weren't assigned any particular place, so Reivyn easily paired up with Teilon. While they both were casual acquaintances with several others, they were each other's only real friends. They conversed a bit about their day before going to sleep, ending the busy day.

They could look forward to more of the same as they awaited the other groups from the surrounding villages to arrive.

 



Knight-Captain Reifold sat at his desk reading and composing reports. As the commanding officer of the entire operation, he instructed those directly below him on what to accomplish, and then he supervised from a distance. The men were well trained, and they did not need his micromanaging. The recruits never saw him during the day, but he did interact a little with the rank and file of the professional troops under him when necessary.

So far nothing unexpected had happened, and that was how he liked it. Expected meant safe, and safe meant everyone went home after. As the commanding officer, after mission accomplishment, making sure his men lived was his highest priority. Some officers didn't care so much about the casualty rate of the commoners they commanded, but that was a good way to win a battle but lose a campaign, in his expert opinion.

As he rifled through the papers, he heard his tent flap open as a man walked in. He didn't have to look up to know it was the Adjutant. The guards standing post outside would only allow one man in unannounced. Only one man dared to do so.

He finished reading the current page in front of him before looking up to address his number two. "Knight-Lieutenant," the simple statement hung in the air. Those brief words said, I know you have something to say to me, and it better be important. Can't you see that I'm busy.

"Sir, have you checked the System report on the conscription yet?" The Adjutant asked.

"I have not. Why? Is there something unexpected?" He asked. He narrowed his eyes at the other man as he continued, "You know how I feel about... unexpected."

The Adjutant's hair stood on end as he felt prickles all over his suddenly cold skin. "Uh, yes sir, it is unexpected. But I think it could be the good kind," he hastily added.

"Hmph," was the response from the Knight-Captain. He quickly opened his System Page and mentally selected the Command tab. As holder of a leadership Class directly under the authority of a System recognized noble, he had access directly from the System itself to assist him. He flipped to the page concerning the conscription.

Unit Management: Recruitment

383 Individuals have been forcefully Conscripted

Peasant Levy 382

Fighter 1

Knight-Captain Reifold felt a small twitch in his eyebrows as an expression threatened to make an appearance on his face for the first time in years. He looked up at the man standing before him.

"Have you investigated this?" He queried.

"I noticed something unusual. One of the recruits was assisting an NCO in instruction instead of training with a spear. I don't know the specifics. I just know that he apparently has several weapons Skills at the Journeyman mastery," the Adjutant explained.

"Who is it? Is it that big, stocky fellow?" He was momentarily silent while he thought, maintaining his bearing. "Torhn, I believe his name is."

"It's the boy, sir," the Adjutant didn't have to explain any further.

The Knight-Captain sat in contemplation for a moment, his hands clasped on the desk in front of him.

"Separate him from the conscripts. Place him with the Regulars. We'll formally adjust his token when we reach The City. Dismissed," he returned to perusing his documents as the Adjutant turned to exit. He briefly paused, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"If I may, sir, what does the System report say?" He asked.

Knight-Captain Reifold considered the question for a few seconds.

"It says he has an Epic rarity Fighter Class."

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A note from Kyfe

Status Page:

                Status  
Name: Reivyn Class:   Fighter Lvl 1 Age:    9
Health:  260/260 Stamina:  500/500 Mana:  260/260
Physical Stats   Mental Stats
STR:   24   INT:    24
VIT:    26   MAG:   28
DEX:  24   CLA:   21
CHA:  3   PER:   18
  LUK:   3  
Skills:
Acrobatics (26), Aim (17), Akashic Record (1), Athleticism (31), Balance (34), Command (0), Drawing (16), Dreams of the Past (13), Eavesdropping (20), Evasion (22), Haman (20 MAX), Hiding (24), Identify {Mundane} (18) Inspire (3), Linguistics (10), Mana Absorption (38), Mana Sight (14), Map Making (6), Mathematics (14), Mental Fortitude (20), Numbers Concepts (8), Observation (27), Pain Resistance (23), Penmanship (21), Piano (0), Pickpocket (6), Running (30), Sense Mana (42), Sneaking (19) Spatial Awareness (1), Stealing (9), Stealth (14), Strategy (0), Swimming (0), Tactics (1), Weapons Master (22)
Affinities:
Air (11), Earth (11), Fire (11), Water (11)
Class Skills:
Devastating Strike (1): Deal 101% Damage
Cleave (1):  Reset stance at an accelerated rate
Charge (1): Sprint towards the target at 111% absolute maximum speed
<Locked>
<Locked>
Available: Intimidate (0), Power Swing (0), Quick-Draw (0)

 


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Kyfe

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