Akira was riding a horse along with Rodger and Marc by his side. They were following behind Brutus, who was leading them to their destination. Their tutor trailed behind them.
They had left the capital city and had started traveling since early morning. Rodger and Akira were tired and slouched in their saddles as they had little sleep the night before.
They were headed to the yearly fall joint knight and army training. The training was always held at this time of the year after all the harvest was brought in. It was also the time of the year that most if any, wars or skirmishes happened.
This year, Akira and Rodger were allowed to take part in the training.
It was an exciting and happy event for both Akira and Rodger, but even the energetic Rodger along with Akira was too tired to talk much. So they spent the rest of the day in silence as they traveled.
The next day, while traveling along the road, just after they had finished eating lunch, they met up with a mismatched group of hunters, knights, shopkeepers, and many other people of multiple professions all heading to where the fall training was to be held this year.
Brutus immediately took control of the group and sorted everyone out into an orderly marching formation. Brutus and the three boys were in the front, the common soldiers in the middle, and the knights that had been mixed with the group were placed in the back as the rear guard.
Two days later, they finally reached the designated training ground. There was already a large tent city set up, as tens of thousands of people had already arrived before them.
“Alright, you lot go and find a spot to set up your tents, I have businesses to attend to elsewhere. Until we next meet,” Brutus said briskly to the soldiers and knights that had followed him, before leaving the group behind.
The three boys and their tutor followed Brutus.
“Take the boys to my tent. It should be set up in the usual area, make sure they don't get into any trouble while I'm at the headquarters,” Brutus ordered the tutor, before riding off towards a large tent in the middle of the tent city.
Following the tutor, they went down a road that was created between the orderly tents that were set up like they would normally be on a war campaign.
As they passed by the tents, they could see all sorts of people moving about. Some looked as if they were on important missions, while others looked bored.
There were many campfires lit. People were sitting around them, cooking all sorts of mouthwatering food while drinking and loudly singing.
They walked past a roped-off open area were a medium-sized crowd had gathered to watch multiple fights happening inside.
Knights were dueling each other with wooden swords, two muscular men without their shirts were wrestling each other, while another pair of men who were less muscular than the others but able to move quicker were throwing punches at each other with odd-looking leather-padded mittens.
Akira and the others were quickly ushered away from it by their tutor. A short time later, they reached a large tent that was a different color than the hundreds of tents they had passed to get here.
They all dismounted and tied their horses to the post next to a water trough.
“Did you see those guys fighting? Amazing! This place is so cool,” said Rodger, hopping with excitement.
“It's nothing much,” said Marc, who had seen it many times before.
“Hurry up and bring your stuff inside the tent. Then we will start your lessons for today,” ordered the tutor.
“What? Why can't we go and watch the fights and check the rest of the campout?” asked Rodger.
“You heard your father. I am to keep you out of trouble. Those places are exactly what he meant. Nothing but trouble awaits you there. Just a bunch of no good gamblers betting and wasting money on fights. You're not planning on becoming a gambler who can't handle his own money, wasting it as soon as you get a little change in your pocket are you?” asked the tutor who was staring at Rodger like a hawk at a rodent who was trying to run away.
“N ..No... It's just...” mumbled Rodger.
“Good, then we should hurry up and start today's lesson,” said the tutor, whose face quickly changed into a bright smile.
They spent the rest of the day being tortured with Math.
Brutus did not come to the tent until early morning the next day. When he did, it was to wake them up.
“Get up, no time to be lazy. Training starts in thirty minutes. If you're going to eat something, do it now then go to the training grounds. Silias will be waiting for you. You will be joining the people he is in charge of today,” said Brutus.
After cooking some eggs with melted cheese over a campfire, they walked down the makeshift road and out of the tent city onto a wide open plain where the common soldiers and all tiers of knights were waiting. Some were in cheap chainmail others were inexpensive full plate armor.
Mixed in were the citizens of the country, a large majority were hunters or farmers. A few overweight merchants and shopkeepers stuck out like sore thumbs.
While looking at the mass of people gathered, a voice called out to them.
“Boys, over here!” shouted the familiar voice of Silias.
Akira and the other two ran over to Silias, stopping in front of him.
“Well, now that you're here, we can start today's training,” said Silias.
The only people standing around Silias was Akira, Rodger, and Marc, no one else.
“Aren't there other people going to join us?” asked Akira, looking around to see if anyone else was late.
“No, it's just you three. I was put in charge of taking care of you for today. Don't worry, you will still be doing the same training as everyone else, just under my command. Today's training will be marching, running, and charging at an enemy. The first day of training is always filled with the basics. Now follow me and let's have fun!” shouted Silias, with a wicked smile appearing on his face.
A few minutes later, they had taken a position in the back of the army along with other less fit people who were participating for the first time. At the front of the army, formation were the knights and other older veterans of previous wars.
The formation was set up as to not have the unfit and inexperienced squadrons get in the way of the veterans.
The rest of the morning was spent walking back and forth to the army's drum beats.
In the first hour, the marching was a mess, as it was just a mass of bodies walking but as time passed, the army took shape as people got into sync with the rhythm of the drum beats and stayed in formation. The drums would every once in a while speed up a little, forcing everyone to start running.
All through the morning, Akira saw many people fall over from exhaustion or stop moving and start throwing up their breakfast due to the extreme exercise.
After a quick lunch of hard and dry army rations, they were forced to stand back up on their sore feet and start the true training of the day.
The army was split in two and then marched to opposite sides of the training grounds and turned to face each other.
At the sound of the war horns, the drum beats began a very fast tempo, ordering them to charge at each other at full speed.
The front line of each side all held massive shields meant to protect themselves and those behind them while shoving or plow through the enemy.
The two sides clashed again and again with loud metallic clangs for many hours. No weapons were used as they were not trying to kill each other.
There were still many injuries from the training. Many people were knocked over and then trampled upon by the unstoppable tide of people either in front or behind them. Luckily, no one died.
Before the sun set, everyone was allowed to limp back to their tents and sleep until the next day’s early start.
Over the next week Akira, Rodger and, Marc learned what was expected of them to become soldiers of the country through the harsh training.
They were drilled using the bow, which Akira and Rodger could barely use. When they were able to shoot the blunted arrows they almost always hit another person instead of the target.
This made the ones getting hit think they were doing it on purpose and gave them a few choice words for a long time until they noticed Silias, the commander of the elite guard, staring at them with a murderous gaze from behind the children, not saying a word.
Marc was the only one able to hit the target every time he let an arrow loose, he was a good shot and also a great swordsman.
‘How enviable. I wish I could be as good as him,’ thought Akira.
On another day, they were learning how to scout and read the signs on the road, along with navigating maps and looking at the surrounding landmarks.
They were also forced to take night lessons from their tutor. That night, they learned that most kingdoms did not allow any type of maps to be created for personal use. The only maps that were created were used by the army and even they were not that detailed.
This was a way to combat the enemy from knowing everything about the kingdom’s landscape, which prevented them from having an easy time invading.
There was only one truly detailed map and that was inside the king's castle where only he and his top officials could see it.
On the eighth day, the day the army was dueling with swords, the first death happened. Someone had gotten too heated in their duel and had hit his opponent in the head with too much force, instantly killing him. Even with the swords only being wooden, it was still enough for a fatal blow.
The guilty person was barred from training and punished with cleaning the latrines for the remainder of the scheduled training.
As they finished the first two weeks of training, the army packed up the tents along with all their gear and supplies. The army was then moved to a nearby dungeon that looked like a small cave.
Akira and Rodger were sitting inside the large tent that was set up for Brutus, who was actually for a change using it and getting his gear ready for leading the army into the dungeon.
“Wow, a dungeon! I can't wait to go inside and see what it's like!” exclaimed Rodger, full of excitement.
“I want to go too,” said Akira in a quieter voice.
Akira was also looking forward to going inside and seeing the monsters he had been hearing about all through training from the knights and soldiers who had cleared dungeons before.
“You and Akira are not going inside. You're too young,” said Brutus causing Rodger’s face to change from a smile to a pout.
“What? Why does Marc get to go and not us? That's not fair,” whined Rodger.
Akira was also disappointed that he couldn't accompany the army into the dungeon.
“This is the first year I’m allowing him to go inside. You have to wait until you’re older just like he did. This dungeon shouldn't take us too long to clear. The scouts say it's a fairly new one so it’s perfect for training those without experience. If it was an older dungeon then I wouldn't let him go, as they are far more dangerous,” explained Brutus.
“It's not fair...” mumbled Rodger just barely loud enough to be heard.
“You will be staying here at camp with your tutor. So I better not hear you were goofing off while I'm gone. Otherwise, you won't like it when I get back,” said Brutus sternly.
“Yes, sir!” said both Akira and Rodger.
“We will be back sooner than you think. It shouldn't take us to long to clear it, then we can all head home,” said Brutus in a softer tone.
After lunch was over, the army had finished its preparations and entered the dungeon, leaving only the injured and noncombatants behind, including Akira and Rodger.
“Quit your sulking and pay attention, you two,” scolded the tutor. “As I was saying, demigods differ from humans mainly because they have what they call mana, which allows them to use special powers and skills that can wipe out armies if they are strong enough.”
“We know this already,” said Rodger, rudely interrupting the tutor.
“It's always good to review things. With the memory power between you and Akira, I would be surprised if you could remember what you ate for lunch the other day,” said the tutor, staring at Rodger.
“Ha! I can do anything I want. I just forget stuff that I don't want to remember,” said Rodger haughtily.
“Bean Soup,” said Akira, who could remember what they had eaten the other day.
“Okay, so the next topic, since we're near a dungeon, will be on the dungeons, monsters, and the ranking system the kingdom has given them,” the tutor raised his glasses and looked at his notes again.
“Dungeons first started to appear along with the first demigods showing up. It is unknown why but only when the demigods show up are new dungeons found.
The Beorin kingdom and other countries are forced to clear them or face the consequences of an overflow. Which is a mass wave of monsters that swarm out of the dungeons, and wreak havoc on the surrounding area.
Once a dungeon is cleared, it will start to collapse a short time later. It's advisable to pick up anything of value, and quickly leave the dungeon before it collapses,” tutor took a drink of water before continuing.
“One of the knight’s main jobs other than fighting during a war is to help local hunters with clearing dungeons when they are found.
Hunters are always out killing monsters near their villages and towns. They are often the first to discover the dungeons. You will find different monsters everywhere if you ever decide to travel later in life.
The kingdom’s official rank of the monsters from the weakest to strongest are: [Rank: F]. Followed by [Rank: E, D, C, B, A] and the strongest even demigods have trouble with are [Rank: S, and SS].
The dungeons follow the same ranking system based on what monsters are inside.
The dungeon that is currently being cleared with the army led by Brutus is [Rank: F],” said the tutor.
The rest of the day was spent learning interesting facts about certain monsters that inhabited the country.
It had been three days since the army had entered the dungeon when they came out.
Akira and Rodger both ran to the entrance of the camp, to watch the returning soldiers.
They were all dirty with mixtures of blood caked on their armor and weapons (whether it was theirs or the monsters), mixed with dirt. They all looked extremely tired. At the end of the column of soldiers was a large number of makeshift stretchers held by tired soldiers carrying the wounded who could not walk.
A wagon behind them was being pulled by horses which contained the bodies and body parts of those who were unlucky and had died.
With the end of the training, a party was held for everyone that night with lots of drinking, fights, gambling, and great food. The party lasted late into the night.
Akira and Rodger spent most of the night asking Marc to describe everything that happened inside the dungeon.
Marc only gave vague answers before heading to sleep.
The next day, the whole camp was woken up around noon and began their departure after saying their goodbyes to new and old friends.
Thanks for reading.