5 - Too late

Name: John

Title: Summoned Hero*

Class: None

General Skills:

Language of men - Lvl 10 - Passive

Identify Lvl 3 - Active


Vitality: 10

Endurance: 15

Strength: 12

Dexterity: 14

Intelligence: 45

Wisdom: 44

Health: 50/50

Stamina: 20/20

Mana: 100/100

I'd felt I had done well, but compared to the sword group, I could already see I was way behind. One of them had gained a [Skill] in the yard, and had been moved to a different area. They didn't come back at dinner, so most people assumed they'd be getting special training from here on in.

Clearly, while we were all called "heroes" there were some who already diverged from the rest of us. The Knights in charge of our training were far more focused on those who showed immediate potential, while people like myself, were simply put through the motions.

I'd have been lying, if I wasn't a little bothered by this, but I didn't let it get to me as much as some. Paul, for one, seemed keen on complaining.

Still, that night, when we were returned to our rooms, even Paul was quiet.

Something was different.

I'd known, all day, but by that night, it was a palpable sort of feeling. We were all dead-tired, and had been for awhile. The training was relentless, and it broke the partying spirit out of most of us who actually went through the motions (instead of lounging in the shade on the side of the training field.) They were working us to the bone, and what we put in, we seemed to get back out in the manner of status increases. But, that last afternoon: the instructors seemed to work us harder. Much harder. Swing after swing, they demanded more and more. Then, for lunch, the food, once luxurious, was now... plainer. Instead of ale and wine, we had water. Dinner was even more spartan. The people who had been selected for the sword and bow instruction, were given new weapons- trading in their old ones for finer equipment. Those of us with the staffs, received nothing.

I wasn't sure if they were trying to prompt another few people to earn a skill, or push us into developing a different set of stats- but the pieces started coming together later.

That evening, when people congregated in the hall (as they did every night) a few Knights came and sternly forced everyone back to their rooms. Almost, like a curfew. As the last person's complaints were muffled behind a thick wooden door, I felt sure in my assessment:

It seemed that the facade of privileged was being reduced. Rather abruptly, in fact. No matter the protests, the doors were shut one by one, and I heard locks clicking to follow. Heavy metal clinking into place, follow by a resounding "click" as the Knights made their way down the hall.

In case any of us had second thoughts?

Not to say I had any intentions of tying my bed sheets into a long cord, and scaling out a hundred foot drop from my window, but earlier in the week, I'd at least tried to get it open. Not much, but a crack.

At first, it was just to see if I could.

The castle might have provided us some gear. My new bag, clothing, basic set of armor and a sword: but there wasn't much to the room itself but a strange fantasy-take on a toilet hiding behind an ornate set of curtains, and the bed itself. There are only so many nights a man can spend trying to identify things, before they start looking for more.

I found it.

Hidden in the crevice between the window and the stone, it was a cloth. Perhaps, smuggled away from the dinner table, or something of similar quality, it was folded atop itself until it lay flat so the window could close shut on top of it.

At first, I'd simply thought it a new item to identify.


Prisoner's Bloody Handkerchief

This is a cloth. Inexpensive, dirty.

The unexpected classification gave me pause. Why a prisoner? Why "bloody?" It seemed dirty, but not particularly so... Unraveling it, though, gave me my answer. One word, but the dried brown made a shiver run down my spine.


Just in time for the sound of a key sliding into place, preventing exactly that.