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A note from Kyfe

For those of you wondering about the Mana Circulation, I was planning on going over it in this chapter, but I felt 4600 words was enough, so I will be putting it in the next chapter.

Reivyn was startled awake to the sound of a horn. He was momentarily confused at the unfamiliar surroundings. The fog of sleep impeded his ability to think about his situation as he sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. After a moment, the scenery triggered his memories of the previous day.

He could see dawn peeking up over the horizon through the opening in the end of the tent he had constructed with Teilon. His friend and the others were experiencing the same situation, as they stirred awake and were slowly looking around. Reivyn reached over and poked his buddy, helping to bring him to the present.

"Wakey, wakey," he said. Teilon's eyes widened in remembrance, and the two of them, followed shortly by the other two sharing the tent with them, scrambled to get dressed in the provided clothes located in their packs. While the provided clothing did match, it would be a stretch to refer to it as a uniform. They were just simple brown linens. Reivyn noted the conspicuous absence of boots, and everyone continued to wear their own personal footwear.

Upon exiting the tent, they were greeted with several soldiers, who were already fully attired and apparently had been for some time, directing everyone to quickly get to the chow hall.

"Mmm, chow," Reivyn muttered subconsciously.

Teilon gave him the side-eye as he remarked, "You're acting weird, man."

Reivyn momentarily froze as he realized what he had said. The affect his dreams were having on him had become more pronounced ever since entering the camp. Salivating over chow, regardless of the taste, was a sentiment from many of his dreams.

"Haha, just hungry," he brushed it off. The two quickly got their fare, the same as the previous meals: a brick of bread, gruel, and a single piece of jerky.

"Woo-hoo, another day of 'marching,' as we wait for the slow of wit to learn how to walk," Teilon quipped in a deadpan manner. He pointed to the piece of jerky in his hand and looked at Reivyn as he spoke around a bite of the meat. "Guarantee that bunch doesn't get the Skill until halfway to Magron. Did you see some of them that completely forgot how to walk? Instead of alternating their natural arm swing with their stride, they're moving the same arm and leg forwards and backwards at the same time. It's the most awkward thing I've ever seen. We're just walking."

"People are thinking about it too much," Reivyn replied. "I'm sure once they've adapted to the situation and relaxed a bit, they'll get it." He shovelled the tasty mix of breaded brick and gruel into his mouth while conversing.

"If you say so. I'm not so sure," Teilon sighed. "I lament for our chances of making it home alive with these guys as our allies. Speaking of," Teilon waved to a passing soldier to get his attention. "Hey, Sarge', what's the chances of making it home?"

The passing soldier frowned at Teilon's question. "I'm not a 'sarge,' as you put it. I'm a Lance Corporal, and you should get used to addressing us as our proper rank. Incorrectly calling us by a higher rank doesn't flatter anyone. And as to your question, that's something the actual trainers at the barracks could tell you," he only paused momentarily to give a brief response before he quickly continued on his way.

Teilon blankly looked in the direction of the departing soldier before turning back to Reivyn and rolling his eyes. "I didn't even know Lance Corporal was a rank, much less how to tell the difference," he complained.

"These guys aren't like us. They're professionals and do this for a living," Reivyn responded.

"Yeah, yeah. Give me a break, though. I've been doing this for a day," Teilon didn't let it get to him and maintained a lighthearted attitude.

The two went silent as they quickly finished their food. They deposited their trays and made their way to the assembly location just outside of the pallisade. They weren't the first to arrive, but they were still earlier than most. As they walked to their position, Sergeant Mok spotted them and he motioned towards Reivyn.

"Reivyn, front and center," he called out.

Reivyn shared a glance with Teilon, and then he made his way to report to the sergeant. He quickly brought himself to attention in front of the older man.

"Return your practice spear to the cart and report to Corporal Decker. He can be found leading the morning physical training inside the pallisade," after delivering the simple instruction, Sergeant Mok turned his attention back towards the arriving recruits, clearly dismissing Reivyn.

Reivyn was a little confused, but he still carried out the order given to him, remembering the rule of instant obedience to orders. After depositing his wooden spear back into the cart that was still parked in it's same position, he made his way back towards the pallisade. He stopped by Teilon briefly to explain.

"I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but I'm not with you guys for now," Reivyn said. Some of the other teenagers looked over at the two, having noticed the situation.

Teilon clapped him on the shoulder, "Alright, man, just be safe." He glanced over at the others assembled. He gave Reivyn a meaningful look, "Pray for me."

Reivyn chuckled as he jogged back into the pallisade. It was obvious what Sergeant Mok had told him to find, as he spotted the majority of the soldiers in a loose formation doing basic warm-up and stretching calisthenics. A man was standing on a simple raised platform directing the exercises and performing along with them. He instantly spotted Reivyn approaching the men, and obviously anticipating his arrival, he simply pointed to the back of the formation.

Reivyn understood what he was supposed to do, and he lined up to participate in the exercises. The warm-ups and stretches being done were similar to the same ones his father had had him do. Not all of them were exactly the same, and there were a couple different ones, but with the example of the man leading, he was able to easily integrate. The soldiers weren't in their armor, and, instead, they dressed like Reivyn in simple linens to facilitate ease of movement.

"Line up!" The man, presumably Corporal Decker, called out to the men. The men ended their exercise and made their way to form up in a 4-person column formation. The man closest to Reivyn grabbed him by the arm and motioned for him to follow him. Reivyn gave him a nod and a smile in gratitude.

Corporal Decker made his way to the front of the column, and with a shout of "Let's go," over his shoulder, he took off jogging, followed by the column of men behind him. The soldiers consisted of, at minimum, mid-Tier 2 Uncommon Combat Classes, so while Reivyn wasn't too far behind in his physical Stats to some of them from his years of intense training, he still had the lowest physical Stats in the group. The pace the corporal set wasn't anything crazy, but it was definitely above what would be considered a jog for Reivyn.

The troops circled the pallisade four times, and sweat was beginning to dampen his linens by the time they came to a halt. This wasn't the end, though, as the men paired off to continue with the exercises. The man who had helped him earlier again motioned for him to pair up with him.

"I heard you have a Pugilist Skill of 26. That's about the same as mine, so stick with me," the man said.

Reivyn could grasp what the continued exercise entailed with the context, and his suspicions were quickly confirmed with a shout from Corporal Decker.

"Grappling," he commanded.

Reivyn squared off against his helper, and they began to wrestle. This wasn't a competition, and they weren't trying to necessarily best each other. It was a combination of physical exercise and technical practice. The troops wrestled in pairs for about ten minutes before receiving another call.

"Strikes," the bellow came from the platform. Reivyn and the man, along with all of the other pairs, separated and assumed boxing stances. They bobbed and weaved while they pulled their punches to not risk causing any accidental damage. They still struck each other, as they were also practicing the Pain Resistance Skill. The exercise was familiar to Reivyn as he had performed in the same manner countless times with his father. Another ten minutes passed with Reivyn finally starting to pant for breath.

"Free form," the shout signalled another change. Reivyn wondered how much longer this was going to go on, but with the experience of training while tired, he maintained his proper form. The other man was slightly more Skilled in hand-to-hand combat, but he wasn't so much above him that he couldn't put up a proper fight. They performed strikes, kicks, and grapple maneuvers, each seizing opportunities in turn with Reivyn performing slightly below his training partner.

"Alright, that's it," Corporal Decker yelled. Everyone separated, most people also panting for breath like Reivyn, and the man across from him gave him an appraising look and a nod of respect.

"The name's Brace, Lance Corporal Brace," he finally introduced to himself. He extended his hand, and the two grasped forearms in greeting.

"Reivyn. Just Reivyn," Reivyn replied. The man chuckled.

"Not anymore. Now it's Private Reivyn. C'mon, I'll take you to Corporal Decker. We're in the same squad," he explained as he led him to the corporal in question. After hearing the words, the doubt he had had about whether he was just training or actually joining the professional soldiers was more than halfway to being answered. He was still confused about the reasons. It can't just be my Skill Level.

Corporal Decker was surrounded by ten other men, all standing around waiting on him respectfully. Reivyn surmised that this was the squad he was being assigned to. Upon walking up to the waiting men, Corporal Decker spotted them, and he gave a nod to Brace before addressing everyone.

"It's 7am right now. You have forty minutes to clean up, get armored, and meet back up here. We'll go over everyone's tasks for the day at that time. Reivyn, you're new, and in order to not waste everyone else's time, you have twenty minutes to get back here. You don't have any armor yet, so it's not much of an imposition. Any questions," he looked at each of his men. This was a rather routine occurrence, so asking if anyone had any questions at this time appeared to be symbolic. "Ok. Go," he commanded.

"Don't worry about breaking down your tent or getting your pack. Just leave it there. No point in relocating at this point. I'll meet back up with you at the assembly point, just don't be late. Cutting your time down by twenty minutes means the corporal cut his own time, too, so keep that in mind," Brace gave him some quick instruction before heading off to take care of his own hygiene.

Reivyn quickly grabbed a change of clothes, the exact same linens he was currently wearing, a towel, and some soap, and he made his way to the washroom. Washroom was putting a pretty face to it, as it was simply an area cordoned off with canvas. There was a large, open cistern of cold water with a bucket one could scoop the water out to dump over themselves.

Reivyn quickly cleaned himself by dumping some cold water to wash off the sweat and grime, scrubbed himself with his soap, and then rinsed off with another bucket of cold water. It was a far cry from being able to lean back and relax in an actual bath, taking as much time to relax as he wanted. The cold water didn't bother him too much, as he had preferred to use cold water to cool off after exercising for years, and the sudden shock to the system did wonders to clear his mind.

After depositing his gear back at his tent and storing his soiled clothing in the provided webbed bag, Reivyn made his way back to the assembly point without delay. He had been given twenty minutes to get everything done and get back. He didn't have to wait in line for anyone, and he guessed he only used about fifteen minutes, but Corporal Decker, decked out in proper armor and looking freshly washed, still managed to beat him back, as he was standing there waiting for him.

How in the world did he manage that? Can he use mana Skills? Reivyn was slightly incredulous, but he managed to take in stride as he jogged up and reported to his new Squad Leader.

"Private Reivyn, the proper way to report is to come in front of me, assume parade rest, and say, 'Reporting, as ordered, corporal,'" Corporal Decker instructed.

Reivyn, knowing the proper stance indicated from watching the other soldiers, assumed a stance of shoulder-width apart, his hands clasped behind his back, and said, "Private Reivyn reporting, as ordered, corporal." Corporal Decker gave a slight nod of approval.

"I'm sure you're wondering why you, and you alone, were moved over here and are not staying with the other levies," the man started. "It's quite simple, really. They're all Peasant Levies. Every one of them. That's no place for a Fighter Class."

Reivyn's eyebrows attempted to join his hairline at this casual revelation. After being surprised, he frowned in contemplation of how his Class had been leaked. He hadn't told anyone.

"Don't look so surprised," Corporal Decker said with a chuckle. "The System itself informed the Knight-Captain as soon you were conscripted. The System isn't just some magical interface to assist in personal growth. Nobody knows its origins, or what its actual purpose is, but there are many functions available to the right sort of people. Nobles and their officers, for example.

"As someone with an actual Combat Class, and not a conscription Class, your enlistment will be with the Regulars. You would have found out the specifics, anyway, once we reached Magron, so there's no harm in disclosing some of that information now. The conscription will last for three years, or until the objective is realized, whichever is shorter. All of the conscripts who have the ability to Level Up to a proper Tier 2 or 3 Combat Class will have the option to transfer to the Regular Unit. Quite frankly 90% of them come from Lifestyle backgrounds and don't have the necessary foundations for that to be possible, so their next Tier Class will also be the equivalent of a Peasant Levy.

"You," he jabbed his finger, lightly, into Reivyn's chest, "don't have the option. You already have a solid Combat Class, and we'll not waste you with the rabble." Reivyn, despite trying not to, got a small frown on his face at hearing his friend, Teilon, being referred to as "rabble." He didn't really care about all of the others, but he knew his friend's worth. "You think it's unfair I referred to them as rabble? Well, let them prove otherwise, then. I'm under no obligation to give anyone, especially young teenagers I don't know anything about, the benefit of the doubt." Reivyn couldn't argue with that.

"Brace seems to have already taken you under his wing, so you'll be with him after we dismiss for duty.

"Now, to answer another question you likely have, why are you with me and not someone else, is for two reasons. Number one I had an open slot in the squad. It really doesn't matter in this situation, but there it is. Number two, and more importantly, we have the same Class. My Class wasn't acquired ahead of Tier, so it's still only Rare and not Epic like yours, but the only difference there is the unassigned Stats gained on levelling. I can give you advice on which Class Skills to use, how to effectively use them, how to efficiently gain experience outside of combat, and the proper Mana Circulation technique for your specific build.

"Speaking of, what weapons Skills do you have, what are their levels, and which are your primary Skills?"

Reivyn was taken aback momentarily at the brazen demand for some of his most private information. His parents had educated him not to disclose things on his Status page casually. He also was in a dilemma on what to say about his Weapons Master Skill.

Noticing his hesitation, Corporal Decker continued, "One's Class and weapons Skills, specifically, are not secrets in a military unit. Not only do your commanders need to know accurate information to provide proper training and how to use you, but your mates also need an understanding of what you're capable of in life and death situations. This isn't a game."

Knowing the seriousness of the situation, Reivyn was still reluctant to reveal too much, so he made a decision. "No disrespect, Corporal, but I feel that I need to speak to someone higher up on this particular issue."

Reivyn braced for the fallout from what the other man could possibly take as an insult to his character, but after waiting several breath's time, nothing happened. Corporal Decker stared at him for a brief moment before nodding his head.

"Very well. You have that right," came the simple reply. "Follow me. We don't have much time left, so we gotta be quick." The squad leader turned and ran off towards the center of the encampment. He wasn't lying when he said they needed to be quick, as he set a much faster pace in order to get to his destination as soon as possible. Reivyn had to go nearly all out to keep up.

They came to a halt in front of a larger, higher quality tent. There was only one other tent that was of better quality, and coupled with the soldier standing guard over the entrance, Reivyn guessed this was the Adjutant's quarters.

Corporal Decker addressed the man guarding the tent, "Corporal Decker reporting to the Knight-Lieutenant in regards to Private Reivyn," he simply stated.

"Wait one," came the equally simple reply. The man ducked his head into the tent for a quick exchange with its occupant before straightening up. "Enter."

The Squad Leader ducked into the tent. Reivyn didn't really know what to do with himself in this situation, so he just stood off to the side. The other soldier, while not acting like a complete statue, seemed to ignore him as he stoically stood his post. Corporal Decker quickly returned from the confines of the temporary domicile/office.

"Ok, you go in and report. I'm going back to the assembly point. You tell him what you need to tell him, and he'll tell me what he needs to tell me," he explained. He then thrust his finger into Reivyn's face. "Now I told you this was your right, but if the situation isn't as warranted as you think it is, and you waste everyone's time... There will be consequences. Understood?"

"Yes, corporal," Reivyn replied. With that Corporal Decker nodded and quickly strode off back where they had come. Reivyn took a deep breath and ducked into the tent. The furnishings were Spartan with a simple folding desk and chair set, an oil lamp, and a neatly rolled bedroll next to a chest in the corner. The Adjutant sat at the folding desk writing something.

"Private Reivyn reporting, as ordered, to the Knight-Lieutenant," Reivyn quickly assumed attention in front of the desk and gave his address. He was told to stand at parade rest when instructed earlier, but the man before him this time was a commissioned officer. That meant this man had some real authority.

The man quickly finished his writing and placed his writing utensil neatly to the side before looking up and nodding at Reivyn. "You learn quick. Now, Corporal Decker tells me you have some issues with revealing information about your Status. Information that is routinely shared between everyone in a military unit. Explain to me why you should be treated any differently." The man did not couch his words.

Reivyn had already thought about the situation on the run over here, and he decided to simply go for broke. "Sir, I have the Weapons Master Skill," he stated.

The Adjutant stared at him for a moment, and then his eyes went wide with realization. He leaned forward in his chair, his elbows on the desk with his fingers steepled in front of his face as he appraised Reivyn. He pointed his steepled fingers at the young teen, "You have a Mythic Skill?"

"Yes, sir," was his reply.

The man brought his hands to his face, opened them and then rested his forehead on his palms as he sat in quiet thought. He abruptly sat up straight, acting as if he had always just sat there calmly, and said, "You were right to bring this to me and not disclose it. Corporal Decker, and the others, can be trusted, but this is a different thing entirely. Rest assured this will be handled appropriately. Dismissed," and with that he turned back to his papers.

Reivyn didn't know what he had expected, but from the sounds of it, he had done the right thing. He quickly exited the tent and ran back to the assembly point. Unseen by Reivyn, immediately after he departed, the Adjutant also left his tent, but he headed towards the Knight-Captain's tent once more.

Despite the very brief encounter inside the tent, Corporal Decker was already done issuing the daily duties to his squad, and he stood there with Brace waiting for Reivyn's return. Reivyn made to report in again, but Decker waved him off.

"You don't need to report in so soon, again. If we were so caught up on reporting in, we'd never get any actual work done," he said with a slight chuckle. "Brace will take you to the supply cart and get you some temporary gear. It won't fit properly, but it'll have to do until we get to Magron. Do you have the March Skill, yet?"

"No, corporal," Reivyn answered.

"Alright, after getting your gear, Brace will March around with you until you get the Skill, and hopefully you can get it to ten before we depart for the city," Decker said. "Don't wear the boots except for when practicing to get the Marching Skill. I don't care how active you were before now, but your feet aren't going to be used to all of the walking we're going to be doing, so you need to build up some tolerance. A Marching Skill of ten will greatly help with that on the way to the city, and you'll be expected to be in full gear and kit during the trek up there. Any questions" He gave the symbolic question. Neither Reivyn nor Brace had anything to say. "Dismissed."

Brace, now also properly kitted out in his standard armor, quickly led Reivyn to a cart parked near the inside wall of the pallisade. On the way, Reivyn posed some questions to the older man.

"What sort of duties do we typically have?"

"In an encampment like this, in a friendly area, it's basically an in-barracks situation. There are all kinds of little, small things that need to get taken care of for the camp to run smoothly. Chow is a good example. The higher ups pass down the responsibilities needed to be accounted for, the sergeants divvy them up to the squads, and the squads rotate the men around to the different tasks. Someone needs to cook the food, and we don't have a dedicated chef. That doesn't mean there aren't men with higher Skill levels than others, and the NCO's typically find a way to match competency to tasks when possible.

"Patrol is another duty. Even though we're in friendly territory, one must always be vigilant. Never know what could be out there. Just because it's a friendly, civilized area doesn't mean all manner of things couldn't pop up. Mainly it would be some savage beasts prowling around, not knowing any better than to stay far away. Patrol duty is done by the full squad, though.

"Here we are," Brace interrupted himself. He had presented a form to one of the soldiers manning the supply area upon reaching the carts, and they had conversed as they waited for the gear to be brought forth.

"Standard issue splint mail cuirass, helmet, greaves, boots, shield, spear, and sidearm," the man listed out as each piece was deposited on a table for inspection. The cuirass, like all the others worn by the soldiers, was a long-sleeve leather top with varying sized plates of metal rivetted to it. There were smaller plates with slightly more space around the midsection, and the shoulders curved down to protect the upper arm while leaving the elbow area clear with bracers for the lower arm. Upon putting it on, despite it being slightly too big, he was surprised to find his range of motion wasn't really affected too adversely.

Reivyn put the armor on, Brace showing him where to attach clasps and buckles when needed. The sidearm was a standard 30-inch sword, and the shield was carried strapped to the back while wielding the spear. They cinched it down as tight as they could to prevent anything from sliding around, and, all in all, it appeared to work just fine. He went ahead and donned the boots, as they would immediately begin practicing for him to acquire the March Skill.

"Do you have any armor Skills, or a shield Skill for that matter?" Brace asked him.

Reivyn shook his head negative. "No armor Skills, and I'm sure I could use the shield as a weapon, but not as a shield, as it were," He replied.

Brace lifted an eyebrow at the response. "Okaaay," he said. "We'll be sure to get some sparring done while you're wearing the armor to unlock the Skill. Really helps with moving around and knowing where and when you can take a hit. For now, though, we work on March. I'll walk next to you and call cadence, and you match my steps and pace. Due to a quirk in the System, it is impossible to unlock the March Skill by yourself, even if I call cadence and you match the proper steps. You gotta actually march in formation, and for whatever reason, the System recognizes two people in step as in formation."

The two men lined up to begin the Skill acquisition. Before they started, though, Reivyn had one last question.

"Why are we in such a hurry? It seems like we're rushing to get these Skills. I know we're about to march to Magron, but it doesn't seem that dire? What about the training at the barracks?"

"Training at the barracks?" Brace threw his head back and laughed. "Kid, we're here to pick up conscripts. There won't be any training at the barracks. Those guys are gonna get as many levels in the March and Spears Skills as they can get along the way, but after a day or two of rest in the city, they're moving out. And us with them. Now let's focus on the task at hand."

Reivyn didn't have time to really digest the words from the older man or contemplate their implications. He quickly got consumed with the practice.

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A note from Kyfe

And with that, the word count is slightly over 44k total. Just about 11k more to finish the April Writathon Challenge, and if I keep the same approximate length chapters, that'll be in 3 days.

Nothing has changed with his Status in this chapter, so I won't be posting it here (it's a bit of a hassle, lol).


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Kyfe

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