If you don't work, you don't get paid. If you don't get paid, you don't eat.
It took three days to even be capable of keeping down some bread and water. Laying still, and suffering, while the others went off to the work of building up the fortifications nearby.
At times, Mars would check on me. She did what she could, getting me spare bread, or water. Jones would... well, he'd check if I was alive, before returning to his seat by the bunk.
Kepler didn't do shit, but then- had I really expected him to?
Laying still, watching my health waver like the ebb and flow of a tide... lower... lower...
I could see how someone like me, might honestly die.
Fever, sweats, weakness that felt almost crippling. The inability to keep much of anything down. All I could do was lay in my bunk and [Identify] whatever happened to be nearby. Over and over, reading the hallucinatory text, praying that the pain would let up.
Finally, it broke through.
Title: Summoned Hero*
Language of men - Lvl 10 - Passive
Identify Lvl 5 - Active
Hide Presence Lvl 1 - Active
The fifth level of [Identify] came abruptly, while staring at my dagger. It felt like being struck by a bolt of lightning, with a side of vertigo.
Sturdy weapon with no enchantments. Intended for stabbing attacks. Useful for around-camp purposes. Despite the age and small chips in the blade, this was forged by a talented-smith.
Even sick as a dog, I could recognize that the fifth level of [Identify] was significant. As the after-effects of whatever had struck with the level up faded, I inspected the dagger with a greater clarity. It was almost as if, upon using [Identify] on it with the fifth level had been the same as seeing it for the first time. No longer was it simply a possession I kept on myself, but something unique. Every tiny little detail of the weapon seemed far more important and recognizable.
The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to obtain the same effect from the other things around me.
Silver Coin, stamped and minted by the Nautalin Empire. The edges have been shaved slightly, indicating previous owners might have had less than morally aligned intentions prior to exchange.
Well... that was slightly bothersome. I soon found most of my remaining coins were like that, and made a note to ask Kepler about it when he returned.
After another few hours, though, the Squad Leader still wasn't back. Neither did Mars or Jones return, which soon worried me. From what I could tell, it wasn't nightfall, quite yet, but it wasn't exactly mid-afternoon either. Evening would be fast on approach, and it was strange for the tent to be empty at this time.
I thought of trying to get up, but a sudden commotion outside stopped me short.
"The rules are simple." I heard Kepler's voice, on approach. "You're property of the Golden Wing Mercenary Company. If you run, you will be killed. Either by me, or some feral monster, or an enemy, or you'll starve."
"What-" Someone unfamiliar to me tried to speak.
"Shut it." Kepler stopped them. "That's another thing. You are to follow my orders, and don't fucking bother me. Even if you think it's important, you can fuck right off. Ask someone else."
"I just ordered you to shut up." Kepler growled, pulling open the tent. "Pick a bunk, sleep. Fortifications just finished today and I'm sure the Company is being relocated to the next battle soon enough. So, tomorrow, I expect you to train with the others."
"Aren't us heroes supposed to be treated a little nicer?" Someone asked. "They weren't this rude at the palace- and when we got here: who was that woman, before?"
"Shut. Up." Kepler's voice boomed, earning a sudden silence. "I'm only going to say this once. Are you all listening?"
"Shut." Kepler's tone brought about a new level of quiet. Sitting up to look, several terrified expressions huddled, just inside the tent. "Listen here, and listen well."
Several terrified expressions nodded.
"No one gives a flying-fuck about the fact that you're Heroes."
So it was, that the Squad in Mud Tent found itself increased by seven.