11 - Desperate

Name: John

Title: Summoned Hero*

Class: None

General Skills:

Language of men - Lvl 10 - Passive

Identify Lvl 3 - Active

Status:

Vitality: 12

Endurance: 16

Strength: 14

Dexterity: 18

Intelligence: 45

Wisdom: 45

Health: 50/50

Stamina: 20/20

Mana: 100/100

Two days until the the Golden Wing company was expected to engage with... whoever it was we were fighting.

Two days, and I still hadn't managed to get a class.

It wasn't as though I hadn't thought about it. I'd considered everything I'd seen, everything we'd done, and I applied them. In fact, I applied them and thought about them so much, my Wisdom stat crept up, but despite my best efforts. Despite going out and working myself to the bone, night after night. Swinging the spear- hell, swinging the dagger. It made no difference. While my stats leveled up in a trickle, here and there, I did not earn a class.

I was the only one.

Linda, Mars, and Cate all managed to secure the [Soldier] or [Brawler] class, partly by actually getting into a real fight- after a drunken [Soldier] from a neighboring tent stumbled into ours by mistake. The other guys were out trying to get food, and I was training. So, maybe it wasn't exactly by mistake, on his part. The timing was... specific.

The girls took a nasty beating from him before Kepler bust into the scene and quite literally kicked his ass. Like lightning, was how the girls described him: supernaturally quick... and loud.

There were threats made that had the man limping away at a speed most might not be able to run. Talk of executing the man, or breaking all his limbs...

Kepler in a rage- a real rage, was determined to be a scary, scary sight.

I wondered what his stats were, but I was under the impression that asking that question was akin to asking for a punch to the gut. He'd handed "discipline" out to the others for a hell of a lot less, at least.

The important point, though, was that I'd recognized what real combat- with risks and stakes of significant value, could do. Maybe for ordinary people in this world, earning a class or an ability might take time, but I'd heard it several times now: heroes were different. It was why we were valuable, because as Heroes we could gain abilities faster, level up attributes faster, and earn a class in a fraction of the time.

All it took was one scenario. One break-through on the training field where they pushed their limits, or a panicked brawl- and just like that, I'd seen the rest gain a class.

So, why hadn't I?

Was there a situation I needed to emulate, or some sort of stat related criteria I wasn't meeting? I used the spear, just like everyone else. I practiced the forms, I pushed myself, but somehow...

That night, after training, when everyone else was asleep. I left our tent from the far exit, and started walking.

I needed to take a risk.

That was the best I could come up with: I'd played everything as safe as I could up until this point. Kept my head down, didn't draw attention, tried to think my way out of the problem. Yet, some problems- sometimes, you can't think your way out.

Some problems have no good solution, just a bunch of bad ones.

Sparring in the yard beside a tent, I saw to [Swordsman] moving so fast, they were a complete blur. I saw men assembling massive weapons of war. Catapults, or trebuchets... I saw archers pulling back bows that fired arrows with such force, the targets they aimed for, exploded in puffs of straw and cloth. [Spearman] engaged in forms and spars, moving like the wind.

For all the people I passed, half of them looked at me, frowning with disdain.

Summoned Hero

N/A

Those floating above my head earned me little favor. Several shouts, a few even spitting in my direction. Watching the camp in motion, I could only imagine why. While they slaved away for their skill, people like me showed up and earned it for a fraction of the effort. We came in from nowhere: weak, feeble people, rushing ahead to take in days what might cost them years.

How many "Heroes" had they seen?

"You shouldn't be out at this hour." Turning behind me, someone spoke up. Kepler stood, with a deep frown on his face. "If you want to end your life, you'll have your chance soon enough, but don't waste it here. That's an order."

"I'm sorry. I was looking for the others who came with us-"

"No, you weren't, and you're not sorry." Kepler cut me off. He stared at me. "You're desperate."

I swallowed the lump in my throat.

"Yes." I answered.

"Walk with me." He commanded, taking the lead. "We're going." He said aloud. To the side of the path between tents, he shot someone a look- and several boots stepped back.

I hadn't seen them.

"Since the war started, I've overseen the training of twenty different groups of you people." Kepler finally spoke, as we reached a quieter part of camp. "At first, I tried. I really tried." He continued. "I had time, back then. Months, to get people ready. To train them properly, to put them through the right motions for a skill, or to find a class that could help them." He stopped, as they reached the end of the tents. "But, the past few years, I haven't had months. Last three group, I only had a few days."

"Ah." The empty tent with too many bunks suddenly made a lot more sense. "That's why."

"Mm." Kepler replied, turning to me. "Some of them, they get lucky. Two groups back, one of the people without a class managed to help the wounded during their first battle. Ended up a [Medic] and got themselves transferred off the frontlines." He shook his head. "How many of your attributes are still under twenty?"

"Four of them."

"Which ones?"

"Vitality, Endurance, Strength, and Dexterity."

"Light, all of them. Don't suppose any of those are close?"

"Dexterity is at eighteen."

"Only eighteen..." Kepler shook his head. "Fuck."

"I..." The pit of my stomach might as well have dropped out from the look he gave me. "That's not good, is it."

"What about your Intelligence and Wisdom? Are those over twenty, at least?"

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I nodded.

"Bloody waste." Kepler let out a long sigh, as he looked out on the field. Distantly, there were other lights: fires or torches. "I keep telling them, but they don't care. Not since we started losing." He leaned back, thumbs hooked against his belt. For a moment he tapped the pommel of his sword, before pulling out his coin purse. Carefully he counted, and handed me three silver piece and four copper. "Tomorrow, go to the cook with this. Tell him I sent you."

As I took the coins, I followed his gaze, across the field... it was another army, I realized. Far across the field, was the enemy. After another long stretch of silence, Kepler nodded.

"This is the only way." He seemed deep in thought. "In the meantime, just get your Dexterity to twenty." He turned back towards the camp. "Ordinary people might have to work for months, but you've still got the title. For a little while longer, at least."

"Little while longer... Wait, what will that do?" I asked, following. "Will that get me a class?"

He didn't answer.