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A note from Kyfe

As a reader suggested, keep in mind that the years in this world are 16 months long and Stats affect physical growth and puberty. While the MC's age is 9 in this world, his equivalent age is nearly 13, and he looks like a 5'4" teenage athlete, though on the skinny side due to not having bulked up any, yet.

The sun bore down on him as Reivyn trudged along. The heat of the early summer was causing him to sweat, even if the physical exertion wasn't too demanding. The trees to the sides of the road could be seen swaying with the wind, and a cool breeze was a welcome comfort.

Or, at least, it would have been if he wasn't surrounded by other men, marching in formation blocking all avenues for the wind to reach him. It would have been if he wasn't attired in full kit and gear, helmet blocking any stray wind that managed to weave through the ranks to whisk sweat from his brow. As it was, the wind was nothing but taunting.

Reivyn had spent two of the expected five days on the journey towards Magron, "The City," as it was referred to. He had acquired the Skill March shortly after training in it on the second day, and now was putting it to good use in formation with the regulars. The beat of drums regulated the steps of the march, with the loud, deep strikes signalling when to place the left foot.

It turned out that Teilon was quite prophetic, and a small minority of the conscripts had, in fact, only just obtained the Skill. There was a difference between structured training and actual, long hours of sustained activity with a purpose. The only ones who suffered from their lack of unlocking the Skill in a timely manner were themselves, as nobody was going to wait on them. Suffering itself, it would seem, was quite the motivation.

The Marching Skill didn't make the troops walk any faster. The main difference that Reivyn noticed as his Skill levelled up was less aches and pains in his back, legs, and feet.

The outfit had waited, and trained, five days for the surrounding conscripts to all arrive, and then they had spent one more day of rest before setting out. The combined levies extracted from the surrounding villages were actually slightly less than enlisted from Haluville alone. Reivyn easily unlocked the necessary Armor and Shield Skills in the interim with Brace's tutelage. Being able to use the shield and parts of the armor as active weapons had accelerated the growth in those Skills, and even now, after two days of near continuous Marching, those two Skills were higher than his March Skill.

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), March (9), Mathematics (14), Medium Armor (13), Mental Fortitude (20), Numbers Concepts (8), Observation (27), Pain Resistance (23), Penmanship (21), Piano (0), Pickpocket (6), Running (30), Sense Mana (42), Shields (15), Sneaking (19) Spatial Awareness (1), Stealing (9), Stealth (14), Strategy (0), Swimming (0), Tactics (1), Weapons Master (22)

He glanced at his Skills tab, effortlessly multitasking by focusing on a blue box while maintaining his steps and positioning with the assistance of the Skill.

I wonder if it's possible to single out certain Skills? Decker did say there was great utility in the interface of the System.

Corporal Decker had called him out to continue their one on one discussion after the evening training session that first day.

"The Adjutant has explained to me that you are versatile, and that I should expect an equal level of mastery in a wide variety of weaponry. So, with that in mind, what are your Physical Stat distributions?" Decker asked.

"24 Strength, 24 Dexterity, and 26 Vitality," replied Reivyn.

The older man's eyebrows raised a bit at the revelation, having only known that he had a Vitality score of at least 20. After a couple seconds of thought, he remarked, "Good. You're not an idiot. As someone versatile, it is more beneficial to maintain a balance between Strength and Dexterity. Dumping more points into Vitality, when necessary to maintain that balance, is never a bad thing.

"It's not always beneficial for a Fighter to maintain a balance, as it is largely dependent on the Skills focus one has. The Fighter Class is designated as a Rare Tier 2 Class, despite its fairly mundane name, because of its wide range of possibilities without losing any power for any of them. I, myself, focus more on the heavy weapons, but there are a couple others who focus on the more dexterous weapons.

"Now, you might be asking yourself, 'but corporal, we all have spears and swords with shields.' That is true, but it only applies to formation fighting. There are instances, such as individual squad patrol, where we can use our own personalized weapons. One of the things about you being versatile is that I, and our squad mates, can expect the same level of competency in both forms of action.

"The three different types of focus also have their own, unique Mana Circulation pathways. As a heavy focus, my pathways center around the meridians located in the larger muscle groups, dexterity focus centers around the meridians located in the smaller muscle groups and joints, and versatile Fighters... Well, after generations of extensive research, it has been found that, actually, the System provided Mana Circulation pathways are the most efficient. There won't always be secret methods that are superior to what the System provides.

"I'm sure you're aware that everyone has mana, and exercising your Mana Circulation is important, so don't slack off and make sure you do it at least once every day feasible. Even those with a zero Magic Stat have some internal mana, and before you ask, no, you don't have to disclose whether you have it or not.

"The System is vast and unfathomable, and there are many different things it is capable of. I, and almost everyone else in the unit, use it to maintain the time. Have you ever wondered how our unit is so punctual without any apparent instruments of time keeping? Well, there you go.

"So, any questions for me at this time," the corporal gave the symbolic gesture.

"Actually, yes." Reivyn quickly interjected before the man could leave. The corporal, not put out, gestured for him to continue, and he simply asked, "Can you teach me the time thing?"

Decker gave a small chuckle, "It's no secret. You just have to know the exact time, and accurately count out a minute in your head. That's it. Here, I'll help you."

Reivyn's thoughts came back to the present as he spotted the inconspicuous time stamp in the corner of his vision next to the blue notification dot. It had been easy to acquire, and he had quickly reciprocated by teaching his friend Teilon and the other two tent mates.

Reivyn mentally fiddled with his Status as they continued moving ever forward on the road. Suddenly, a new box popped up in his vision.

Recent Skills:
March (9)
Medium Armor (13)
Shields (15)

There it is. That'll be more convenient in the future.

 



The troops came to a crisp halt as one of the Scouts approached the Knight-Captain from his excursion. The levies performed more of a meandering, gradual stop more than anything resembling a halt. Not only were they not as Skilled as their professional counterparts, but, quite frankly, they didn't care nearly as much, either.

The commander was competent and had several men on horseback to keep vigil all around the formation. The Knight-Captain gave an order to the Scout that Reivyn couldn't hear, and as the man moved towards the opposite direction he had come from, the commanding officer pulled out his token. Reivyn couldn't get a good look at it, but it was definitely a different material, and did something with his mana that Reivyn could just barely perceive.

"Contact, right," the Knight-Captain's calm voice spread over the entirety of the unit, professionals and levies alike. "Scouts report a small goblin tribe heading our direction. Sergeant Mok, take a platoon to reinforce the levies. Knight-Lieutenant Brand, you have command."

This was actually the first time Reivyn had heard the Adjutant's name. The calmness with which the Knight-Captain commanded and the others obeyed helped to quell the rising butterflies in his stomach. This was the first time he was ever going to be in a true, life or death situation, and no matter how he had trained and had confidence in himself, he was still nervous.

"Align Right," came the command from the Knight-Lieutenant. The unit dispatched to retrieve the levies was a company made up of three platoons. With one platoon sent back to the recruits, the two remaining platoons faced the right and came together to form one long line. Reivyn found himself in the third rank after the shift.

"Just watch and learn as much as you can," Brace leaned over slightly and whispered to him. "This ain't gonna be nothin', you'll see."

"Front Rank, Javelins," at the command, the front rank retrieved their shields from their backs and shifted their stances a bit to allow them to bring them to bear more easily. They flipped their spears upside down to be held in the opposite grip so they could throw them on command. The spears weren't technically designed to be used as javelins, but with the Throwing Skill and the System, it was a simple matter to adapt, and it was apparently a common usage of the weapon.

"Second Rank, Ready Spears," a third command came down, and the second rank assumed a ready stance with their spears.

"We'll rotate forward if either the first or second rank need it," Brace continued his whispered instructions. He slightly shook his head, "Probably won't need it."

"Fourth Rank, Assemble Reserve," at the last command, the two squads broke off from standing in ranks and assembled behind the troops, centered on their original platoon. They would be able to react to changes on the battlefield as needed.

"Now the fun part," Brace glanced over with a small smile and a twinkle in his eye. "Waiting."

The soldiers stood at the ready, eyes scanning the tree line approximately thirty or so feet in front of them. Other than the sounds of nature all around them, there was total silence as the men waited.

And waited.

And waited.

A swirl of differing emotions threatened to consume Reivyn as he stood in his place. Anticipation and butterflies tickling his stomach threatened to make him puke. Fear and confidence warred against each other for supremacy. Boredom and doubt threatened to distract him. He found it difficult to stand still and not bounce on his toes or fidget in other ways. He could hear his own accelerated heart beat in his ears due to the total silence.

Huh, the birds stopped chirping.

No sooner had the thought popped into his head when, suddenly, a tide of green children came pouring out of the treeline, screaming like banshees. That was the only way Reivyn could describe the spectacle. At first glance, it looked like tiny, green human kids ran at him with clubs and makeshift stone hatchets. Upon closer look, he could make out the pointed ears and noses, as well as the wild, feral eyes.

"First Rank, Throw," the Knight-Lieutenant commanded. The troops in the first rank smoothly hefted their spears and let fly. The goblins were attired in nothing but loincloths, and the spears easily penetrated the first row of the unarmored assailants. It looked like a scythe had reaped wheat as goblins tumbled to the ground, never to rise again.

"First Rank, Swords," another command was issued. The first rank calmly unsheathed their swords and formed a shield-wall, swords held at the ready. The goblins never slowed down as they slammed into the waiting shields.

The men didn't try to stand completely firm, and allowed the goblins to push them slightly back to absorb some of the impact. Reivyn copied Brace, and the third and second rows supported the shield-bearers by helping them absorb the momentum, and then they assisted to shove back against the goblins who were dazed from the collision.

Reivyn watched as the first rank took the opportunity to bring their swords to bear, dispatching the closest goblins and quickly resuming the shield-wall. Now that the initial charge was over, the shields were no longer held solidly up against each other, but instead a small gap was left open. The second rank stood slightly off to the side of the first rank, and they used the small gap to jab their spears out at targets. Any goblin that thought it was smart and targeted the gap quickly found itself skewered in the neck or face.

There were probably several hundred goblins, and they advanced without regard to their safety. A cacophony of unintelligible grunts and screams coupled with the sounds of weapons and shields clashing shattered the formerly tranquil silence. They were in a frenzy, but despite their manic behavior and displaced courage, they were utterly ineffective. The professional soldiers calmly and steadily annihilated the foes in front of them.

Reivyn watched in fascination. He didn't need to learn how to perform the maneuvers. He needed to learn the commands and develop trust between himself and his allies.

He stole a quick glance over to the back. The officers were calm and composed. Knight-Lieutenant Brand was meticulously focused on the formation that he was commanding. Knight-Captain Reifold sat on horseback watching the forest, his hands folded on the pommel of his saddle. Occasionally he would nonchalantly tug on his gloves, looking entirely unconcerned.

The midst of a pitched battle was no place to be distracted, so Reivyn only glanced towards the officers for a brief second before resuming his vigil on the ranks before him.

If nothing unexpected happens, this'll be over quickly, he thought to himself.

Suddenly, a deafening roar reverberated over the battlefield. A giant, hulking behemoth of a monster came trundling out of the treeline. It gripped an entire tree branch in its meaty fist as a club and stood at least ten feet tall. It scanned the conflict arrayed before it before bellowing once more and launching itself at the formation, tree branch held aloft. It cared nothing for the goblins in its way as they were tossed about and smashed flat in turn. It was surprisingly fast for its bulk, and it wouldn't take longer than a second or two to reach the first rank.

Reivyn felt his belly flip flop at the appearance of the monster. He felt a sweat drop on the side of his face as he chastised himself for his errant thought. None of the troops in formation reacted, however, and they continued to perform their duties as if it didn't exist. They had supreme confidence in their allies and commanders.

A flash of light, reminiscent of Reivyn's dreams, passed overhead of the men and through the beast. It took one more step before literally falling apart. The beam of light had neatly bisected the creature before it could even enter the fray.

Reivyn stole another glance in the direction the light had come from. Everything was exactly the same, but now Knight-Captain Reifold sat upon his horse with one hand holding his drawn sword. He had obviously just used a devastating Class Skill to solve the threat. His gaze never wavered from scanning the treeline, and if one didn't know better, they would assume he was just casually sitting there, having done nothing at all.

Reivyn had a new understanding of the man.

The loss of their ace had finally shaken the small goblin horde. Their frenzied attacks became tepid as it was clear they were finally faltering.

"Advance," Knight-Lieutenant Brand seized the opportunity to issue a new command. The first and second ranks never stopped blocking, slashing, and stabbing as they slowly started stepping forward into the waiting creatures. Reivyn quickly kept up in his position, and the advancing soldiers finally broke the morale of the tiny monsters.

Only about a hundred or so goblins were able to disengage and flee towards the treeline. At this opportune time, the Scouts came bursting out of the forest on their horses and trampled into the fleeing goblins. The little fiends hesitated at the sudden flanking maneuver, and it sealed their doom as they were trapped in a pincer attack.

"Mop up by squad," the Knight-Lieutenant commanded.

Brace tapped Reivyn on the shoulder to get his attention and jerked his head towards the rest of the squad. "C'mon," he said.

Reivyn joined his squad in quickly descending on the remaining few stragglers. The men from the third rank mainly focused on confirming downed goblins were actually dead, and a quick stab with their spear would make it so when any were found alive.

"Reivyn," Corporal Decker called out to him. He looked up and saw his Squad Leader crooking his finger at him, and as he got closer, the man pointed down at the goblin laying at his feet. It was still alive. "Kill it."

Reivyn looked down at the still breathing goblin then back up at all of the other squad members who had gathered round. The butterflies were back, and he felt extremely nervous. He had never killed anything before. He had never intended or wanted to kill anything before. His weapons had only ever been used in practice.

He knew that there was no getting out of this experience, and the longer he took, the more respect he would lose. Before anything could happen, he took a deep breath, gathered his courage, and thrust his spear as hard and fast as he could towards the downed creature. He tried to convince himself that he was aiming to stab his spear into the ground behind it, and not to use it to extinguish a life.

The vision of bright red life's blood squirting up into the air seared itself into his mind, forever. The sound of the metal tip tearing through flesh was distinct, and the feel of boring through skin, sinew, and bone clearly travelled up the spear into his hands. He kept his eyes wide open, not to relish in the victory of killing an enemy, but so that he would never forget what taking a life was like.

As soon as the light went out of its eyes, a surge of energy swam through his veins. It felt like a cloud gave him a tender massage from the inside out, and all of the stress and anxiety that had built up evaporated with its passing.

He jerked his head up, wild-eyed, at Corporal Decker. "What was that?" He asked.

"That," Decker responded, "was your first taste of Euphoria. It is the way the System protects the minds of people who fight and kill monsters. How do you think so many people can take up combat classes and not becoming gibbering lunatics from a lifetime of fighting and killing?

"This is an important lesson that everyone has to learn. Even the Adventurer's Guild's initial test is designed to introduce this to its newest members. Now here's the important part: This only applies to monsters. This does not apply to animals or their higher levelled cousins classified as beasts, and it certainly doesn't apply to other people. In fact, if the System deems it, killing an innocent person would cause an equal, opposite reaction.

"It's the main reason murder rates are so low, though there are psychopaths and people with Skills and/or Classes that mitigate it. Not sure why the System would have such a punishment in place to only help some prevent it, but what do we know about the System?" He shrugged.

"Alright, everyone, back to work," he ordered. The squad continued its duty of exterminating the pests. It was standard procedure that everyone, even the city folk, understood that if given the opportunity, a goblin tribe needed to be slain to the very last one. They had a remarkable tendency to bounce back from devastating losses quickly, unfathomably even if only one survived.

Reivyn no longer hesitated, and he personally slew two more goblins before they were recalled.

Upon returning to the road to resume the formation, Reivyn noticed that the levies hadn't sustained any dead among them. The goblins had foolishly focused their attack on the armored professionals, and apparently Sergeant Mok was well versed in leading conscripts. There were some injured, but the goblins, even if they had focused on the levies, were never really much of a threat, and the thing that Reivyn could only guess was an ogre, was quickly dispatched before it was ever a factor.

There wasn't much to the after action. The officers conducted a head count, and then reformed the marching formation to continue the trek. As they resumed their march, Reivyn pulled up the notification that was blinking in the corner of his vision.

Combat Initiated.
Member of a Military Formation
2nd Squad
Decker (Leader) Status: Healthy
Rizler Status: Healthy
Dromin Status: Healthy
Tobin Status: Healthy
Kyle Status: Healthy
Yorbo Status: Healthy
Steil Status: Healthy
Cliff Status: Healthy
Marik Status: Healthy
Kran Status: Healthy
Sile Status: Healthy
Brace Status: Healthy
Enemy Defeated x611
Final Blow!
Exp +10
Final Blow!
Exp +10
Final Blow!
Exp +10
Combat Resolved
Calculating...
Minor Contribution
Exp +10
Experience: 60/100

Reivyn snorted at the results. He got as much experience for finishing off each goblin as he did for the entirety of the combat. He guessed that the minor assistance with absorbing the momentum and pushing back against the horde in the beginning of the battle was his "minor contribution."

He would need to take a more active role in combat in the future if he expected to get any amount of meaningful combat experience. It was probably squad patrols, with vastly reduced numbers of people involved, that saw the most individual gains in combat experience.

Not much opportunity for that for a while, considering we're not going to be stopping over in Magron for any length of time.

Even while stationed in the barracks, the soldiers still had to form up their squads and go patrolling in the surrounding countryside. It wouldn't be good to let a couple of these goblin tribes combine and descend on the city unannounced.

As he marched along, he suddenly got a chill down his spine as all of his hair stood on end.

What kind of combat situation could have possibly awarded me a thousand experience while I was still a baby in the womb?

The thought was disturbing.

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A note from Kyfe

I've always wondered how authors could justify people, especially MC's in Isekai, instantly taking to the life of fighting and killing. Well, here's my take on it.


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Kyfe

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