By their own agreement, the Nautalin Empire promised us at least fifteen of quality this time." The woman's voice was like a knife. Sharp, and painful. "Instead, here they send a under a dozen, mixed in with scraps."
"Were are we?" To my left, someone coughed the question, trying to stand. "What happened?"
"Look at them? I count... five swordsmen, another five archers... What are the rest of these? Classless?" The woman continued. "This is shit."
"It appears so." A gruff voice replied. "Off to the front line with those, see what survives?"
"Well, we can't exactly return them now, can we?"
"Salvage what can be salvaged, rest to the front." The woman spit on the floor- ground.
We weren't in a room anymore, I realized, but a field. Distantly, in all directions, I could see a gray sky, and tents. So many tents...
"Consider it done." The gruff voice belonged to a large man, wearing studded armor. Above his head, I saw letters, similar to what the Knights in the castle had displayed.
Sitting up slowly, he approached, before lashing out with the butt of his spear. "Get up you filthy maggots! Get up! Swords and bows, to one side, the rest of you lot: with me! We'll get a class out of you, one way or another."
Quickly and efficiently, the man strode forward, weapon in motion. Before anyone thought to stop him, he was already upon us.
"What?" I tried to asked, before I took a slap to the ribs, which left me gasping- even with my armor.
"UP!" The man shouted, spittle flying. "You're property of the Golden Wings Mercenary Company, as of today! If you can't get that through your head- I'll drive one of the flagpoles through it."
There was no questioning allowed.
I got up without further suffering, but the rest who made the mistake of trying to speak, received far worse than just one hit- even the women. Bruised and bleeding, of the seven other who weren't favored with bows or swords, most were given at least a few swats with the non-bladed end of the spear.
Ruthlessly, we were marched away from our companions, the eight of us driven like cattle between rows of tents and watching eyes, until we were unceremoniously dumped by a tent that seemed to be plotted squarely on the muddiest patch of ground in the entire camp. Beside it, another man stood in attention, reacting to our guide's approach.
I saw those, associated.
"Beat them into shape. Any shape will do." The Captain ordered, delivering one last smack of his spear to someone down the line, laughing as that earned him a curse. Shouldering his weapon, he turned about. "And kill whoever's stupid enough to run. There's almost always one."
"Sir." Beside the muddy tent, the man we'd been left with frowned as he scanned us over.
Ever since [Identify] had improved, there were times I could work out more details. Peering in closer, I tried to see more, but failed.
"Titles but no class... how in all the hells." He shook his head. "I'd rather be honest about this." Running a hand through his beard, he sighed. "In two weeks..." He shook his head again. "Fuck."
We all stared, warily looking behind us to make sure this wasn't a trick. No one seemed interested in getting beaten again.
"What's that?" Among our group, someone found the resolve to ask. "What's in two weeks?"
"Any of you got a skill? Can't see skills as easy." He ignored them, as he looked us over. "Come on, then. Out with it."
No one was answering.
"We have the [Identify] skill." I finally spoke up. "Passive language skill, too."
"No shit." The man looked at me, halfway between irritation and disgust. "What about the rest of you? Any fighting skills? Weapon skills?" He looked us over again, but no one else answered. "Why the fuck do you have swords, then?"
"They gave them to us." Someone answered, quietly. "We usually use staffs,"
"Oh, for fuck's sake." Face in his hands, at this point, the man took a deep breath. "What sort of fucking joke is this."
"We didn't ask for-"
"Shut up." He shouted. "Next battle is in two weeks." Motioning we follow, the man turned into the tent while still shaking his head. "And you're all gonna die."
It seemed our days as "heroes" had ended.