The next few days passed in a blur. Training, then sleeping. Sometimes eating, but mostly just sleeping.
I learned a bit from what happened to the others. Jones had held the line well, and fought until the battle was over. Kepler even bragged about it, when he overheard Mars telling me- though Jones, himself, seemed far from willing to speak of the subject. Contrary to Jones, though, Mars had been hit early. She seemed surprised, when I mentioned it.
"You saw that, in all the mess?" She asked, glancing towards the tent flaps, where our gruff Squad Leader had wandered out- metal flask in hand. "Promise you won't tell a soul." She whispered.
I promised, after I realized she was serious.
"Bastard saved me." Mars's lip twitched, as she looked over to Jones, speaking quietly so only I could hear. "You're right, I got Hit. Right by the ribs, but it only got my armor. Kepler dragged me back with one arm, and then." On the spare bunk we'd all be using as a storage shelf, she lifted a mangled piece of armor to throw it in my direction, and-
Even washed, the smell alone almost made me vomit.
"Horse meat?" I coughed, throwing it back, as quickly as I could.
"Horse meat." She nodded, catching it with a grimace. "Smeared that shit all over my armor, and then he told me to stay down." Mars whispered. "Bloody-mess looked like I'd been stabbed in the gut. They dragged me back, out of the front."
"And that's how you..."
"That's how I survived." She nodded, looking back over to Jones. "Shame it was only me."
Sitting on the floor of the tent, in his usual spot, Jones simply stared at the empty bunks across from him. Unmoving, uncaring, he simply stared.
"Think he'll snap out of it?" Mars asked. "When I got my [Brawler] class, I got this skill... it's called [Numb]. Lets me feel... less. Not just physical stuff, but... all stuff." She frowned, still looking at Jones. "Been using it a lot."
That night, after my somewhat-obsessively ritualized training, I came back to the tent, to find Jones still sitting there. Still staring at the empty bunks, where the others used to be.
They seemed more distant, than normal. As if a part of them was fading, pulsing in an uneven tempo my eyes couldn't quite catch.
Laborers came in, and they were building something out on the field. Pits were being dug, bodies were being dumped, fires were being set.
Hell, sometimes it was just fires being set.
On days the wind wasn't in our favor, God... the smell was horrible. Honorable graves for the fallen, apparently weren't a custom in the Golden Wing Company.
No, instead there was just stripping the dead of equipment.
Mercenary's Leather Armor
Used, but suitable, armor. Has been repaired, but will likely provide suitable protection from light attacks.
[Identify] continued its slow and seemingly pointless grind towards more elaborate descriptions.
I now had a new set of armor- likely stripped from the dead. My sword, my dagger, my spear, and a bag with some basic equipment for maintaining my weapons. Oil, leather, some string and a needle. Oh, and five silver coins. Apparently, surviving meant we got paid.
It also meant, eventually, things were expected of us.
By the middle of the week following the battle, we were pulled from our routine of training, and set about to labor. Though, the bodies and the scavenging had been mostly dealt with, the building and digging, was a different story.
This was a different kind of training. Not elegant or building upon itself like the elegant and efficient motions of a spear, but harsh, tiring, and unpleasant. Monotony, of the same painful set of movements, to move dirt from one place, to another.
Still, I couldn't deny it was effective.
By the time the trench and mounded wall we'd been set to work into shape was finished, the results spoke for themselves.
Title: Summoned Hero*
Language of men - Lvl 10 - Passive
Identify Lvl 4 - Active
Hide Presence Lvl 1 - Active
I was finally starting to approach the twenties for my combat related stats. Dexterity- by some miracle of several training sessions, actually was twenty.
Critically important, I felt, as these seemed to be linked to obtaining a class.
Though Jones was far from talkative, and Kepler might as well have been a mute, when it came to normal attempts at conversation, Mars had told me her [Brawler] class seemed to have links to her own status attributes. She confirmed that the class was linked to Vitality, Endurance, and Strength. Beside her status, those categories were provided and additional bonus, because of her class.
Remembering what the others had said, before the battle, it seemed Vitality, Endurance, Strength, and Dexterity were critical in the process.
Though I wasn't certain the [Brawler] class was something I wanted, it confirmed I was still quite a ways off from any class I'd seen so far. If [Brawler] was Vitality, Endurance, and Strength- Soldier seemed to be linked to Vitality, Strength, and Dexterity... or some combination of all four (Vitality, Endurance, Strength, Dexterity...)
The best I could do was keep grinding, in the hope that I might finally hit whatever hidden criteria was important.
So, I did- or tried to.
The second bout of food poisoning was much, much worse, than the first.