A note from stern trooper

Hi guys!

I had some free time today, and access to a PC. So here's a surprise chapter! 

Things are moving a bit slowly, and the short chapters won't help with that feeling, but there are a few concepts that need to be established. Then we'll be able to move on to greater things!



I followed the imposing tiger-man wondering if the anthropomorphism of this world could be explained from a scientific point of view.

Some of them looked like regular humans with animal limbs, others looked more like actual animals who just happened to be able to stand upright and speak.

What was the popular explanation? I remembered the barkeeper calling me a “full” human. Did it mean that there was some interbreeding at work, and if yes... How in the world was it possible, at a genetic level?

I shook my head and put those thoughts under my “ask later” mental folder. The logic and physics of this world were obviously different from mine in a way I had yet to grasp.

For all I knew, instead of DNA, a microscope would just reveal dancing and laughing gnomes. There were several things that required my immediate attention.

One of them being the growing doubts that the man leading me was the kind of man someone would send to guide an orphan to his new room.

Everything about him screamed violence.

Killers were usually good at spotting other killers and it wasn’t something most could explain if asked to. My best guess was that the subconscious mind would recognize micro movements and mannerisms we had seen on the battlefield at some point.

Then again, it usually was just a hunch. Not a feeling of certainty that someone was looking for a kill. Like the one I had now.

I stopped walking and readied myself for whatever would come, but the man seemed to sense it somehow, and stopped as well.

“Oh, my apologies,” he said, and the feeling of danger simply vanished.

He turned around and displayed an apologetic expression, “That anger wasn’t directed at you, but myself. It’s surprising you could sense it at your age... then again, it makes sense.”

There was something else on his face now. Something that looked like guilt or shame, but it was quickly replaced by a neutral expression and he nodded for us to keep walking.

“I am Ardos,” he said. “This institution’s combat instructor. And since you’re now one of us, it’s “sir” Ardos to you.”

“You teach combat?” I asked, still on my guard. “So there are firearms available?”

He glanced back at me.

“... What a stereotypical thing for a human to say,” he said. “If by that you mean rifles and guns, the answer is no. I teach our students barehanded fighting and how to use common melee weapons. It’s enough for most of them to unlock a fighting class, though the classes of this shard are nothing extraordinary. But at least they allow the kids to make a living and have some future prospects.”

The hall that served as canteen was the heart of the temple, and it seemed that the layout was organized around it. From the sculpture that was in the front, I concluded that it also doubled as a praying room, or that it at least was its original function. Ardos guided me to a hallway on its side and after passing several doors he stopped at one right before the corner and handed me a key.

“Your room.” he said. “This section is actually reserved to the younger children and some of the personnel, but since there isn’t any more space upstairs it will have to do. You get to be by yourself so it’s a good trade, I would say.”

I unlocked the door and looked inside.

The room was a spacious and simple one, which was totally fine by me. It had a bed, a desk and a wardrobe; all made of wood. Quite an upgrade from a bar’s closet. But it made me wonder...

“Mrs Royin didn’t mention any payment,” I said to Ardos who was just standing with his arms crossed. “This seems a bit too generous.”

The tiger shook his head.

“We usually make students sign contracts that have them pay a set amount for the number of years they were under our care. Though if Royin didn’t mention it, it means she intends to simply help you at her own discretion, for now at least. There are a few other students in a similar case.”

“I see.”

“However...” he hesitantly continued.

Here it comes, I thought.

Stating whatever he had to say seemed to cause Ardos a great deal of discomfort, however. He was almost fidgeting as he finally let it out.

“I will cut to the chase: Royin informed me of your situation, and that you were a titled delver. I humbly request your assistance in getting the same title, not without compensation of course.”

I raised a brow. “I don’t think-”

But I was interrupted by a raised hand.

“Before you say anything,” Ardos said, “Let me explain to you how much this would mean to me. Please.”

To talk that way to a boy so much younger than him proved that he was nothing if not determined.

“Alright then,” I said. “But let’s go inside at least.”

I entered the room and sat on the chair by the desk. He hesitated a moment but ended up closing the door behind him.

“From what Royin said, you are in a state of... confusion regarding delving matters, even though you have the title. Is that true?”

Talking while standing in front of a sitting kid seemed to make him uncomfortable, which I understood but chose to ignore. There was only one chair in this room and considering how dead tired I felt, I wasn’t going to give it to him.

“It is,” I said. “Just assume I know nothing.”

“There are many people across the shattered realm who call themselves delvers,” he started, “but at most only a tenth of them received the title that makes someone a real one. It is an honor that the old gods only give to those who have proved their ability to bring back the glory of the days before the end of the world.
That title allows one to freely enter and leave dungeons, along with a party. Items recovered from dungeons are often valuables and the coins earned from sales would be a great help to the orphanage, but that is not the most important part. Dungeons are a straightforward way to earn ether and Glory. And I am in need of both.”

“Glory,” I interrupted, caught on the word. “What is it for actually?”

His eyes widened, “You don’t know?”

“I don’t. And the better informed I am, the more likely I become to not refuse your request.”

He closed his eyes with a sigh, “I don’t know if the fact that you were ignorant makes your ostentatious spending at Laure’s inn feel better or worse. Glory... Is a form of currency.”

“...So that’s it? It’s just money? What’s the big deal then?”

“No. It’s not the kind of money that is exchanged between mortals. It’s the only offering the old gods and their relics recognize.”

I frowned. “Gods?”

The word “terminal” had made me come to the conclusion that the statue was connected to something. However, never would have thought that this world’s version of the internet was of divine nature. Maybe I should have.

“And their relics, yes,” he waved a tired hand. “I shall let someone else tell you of the story of the Shattered Realm and its gods; and how they came to consider mortals useless unless they chase after the glory of the past. Theology isn’t my strong point. What matters here is that Glory is earned by achieving any kind of notable feat, and the amount awarded depends on what was accomplished. It is extremely valuable for adventurers and royals alike. The reason why I need to earn Glory is that it is needed to travel between shards.”

Ardos’ fingers went to massage the bridge of his nose.

“Royin and I have been on this forsaken shard for more than a decade,” he said with a bitter tone. “Without enough Glory, traveling to a different one is impossible unless you spend a fortune, and with the orphanage, saving up is just a fantasy. There is always someone sick, or something to fix... And even if we somehow did have the means... My current strength isn’t enough to face what would await us at the end of the journey.
So for a decade now, I have tried to get the title of delver. Among the titled delvers I have met, very few even entertained the notion of assisting me without an oath of servitude. They basically have a monopoly on the dungeons, you see, and they fear I would become harsh competition if I could enter them. In the end, those who didn’t outright refuse only wasted my time and coins, getting much amusement as they made a fool out of me.”

“Isn’t there a way to get the title without any outside help?” I asked.

“I am only aware of one,” he replied without opening his eyes. “That method is to sacrifice two hundred Glory points to a dungeon. Fifty to be allowed to enter, a hundred to face its boss and fifty to be allowed to leave. I wasted my life’s work by attempting to get the title that way and failing.”

Only two hundred?


A note from stern trooper

 Thanks for reading! Any thoughts?

'till next time!

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stern trooper

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Vorchin @Vorchin ago

Thanks for another chapter!

Dumblord @Dumblord ago

Thanks for the chapters, that's a really nice begining and I hope to read a lot more of it!

I like many things ; among them the main character's "mature" vibe, the grammar wich is as far as I can tell spotless and the slow but steady worldbuilding.

Keep up the good work.

    stern trooper

    stern trooper @stern trooper ago

    You're truly welcome!

    It's very humbling to be helped so much by people I met on the internet, and I'm very grateful for the time you invested in the story and spotting mistakes. I will do my best to not let you down!

    Thank you again!

Deinos @Deinos ago

Heh, thanks for the chappy Very Happy

Just one thing that I forgot last chapter when he spent that Glory, for someone who supposedly lived and thrived through all kinds of hardships and challenges he sure is some thick retarded bastard XD, I mean, who in their right mind would spend something that he doesn't know the value of unless mortally necessary, well of course unless you're a 10 year old idiot probably but anyone with half a brain would know not to waste currency, especially currency explicitly provided through a god's machinations, that as far he knows could either be worth gravel or diamonds.

I mean cmon, if it was about exposing him and making him look less retarded then he could've asked Kolyn about exchange rates/value differences between the local currency and Glory or something along those lines, a bit off putting that seeming convenient dumbing down of the character.

Nevertheless can't wait for da next chapta :D

    stern trooper

    stern trooper @stern trooper ago

    You're welcome!

    I think that maybe you're thinking about this in the way of a spectator aware of common tropes and not in the way of someone living it and not aware of the big picture?

    For exemple, you say that he doesn't know the true value of glory, but he was given a reference when he used the terminal. From what he could tell, it was currency used for mining equipment, clothes, etc... common things, right? And that's the value he gave it to. Just money he could use to buy stuff he needed.

    It's like, when someone is given dollars to buy something at the store. When they are making the payments, they don't stop and think about how much the money they are using is worth in the middle east. What they know is that for 20$ they can get a pack of tide pods.

    Now, you are right that he might could have asked more questions before spending... I think that it would give him a level of paranoia that doesn't fit his character though, but I might be wrong. Don't forget that he isn't a cautious teenagers who is angry at the world... He is an old man who (at least believes that he) dealt with his trauma long ago.

    Also, you seem to think that going through hardships makes you smarter? I'd argue that it makes you mentally stronger, but not necessarilly more intelligent.

    But anyway, thank you for reading this story and taking the time to write your opinion, it means a lot! Don't worry I'm taking it into account. Since there aren't a lot of people commenting, it makes me happy to know that there are people excited for the next release and it makes me even more motivated.

    Thanks again!

      Deinos @Deinos ago

      I'm glad you take it well, I'm always a bit worried when I speak my mind in stories because I don't want to demotivate or offend.

      Now, I didn't really think about the troping stuff rather, he's someone who survived many encounters of different sorts, comes with the job he had (otherwise he'd be dead), like different kinds of people conning you in new towns/different child soldier gangs/different people in different situations that don't necessarily do wrong in a moral sense, unless doing anything to survive is immoral etc and also with surviving the different changes in his life.

      So I'd assume such a person to be very perceptive and wary, especially in new situations (unless he doesn't care much being old'n stuff, but then again, he does, because he's afraid of what awaits him), and not only is the situation new, it's absolutely alien in outset and creatures. Thereby I don't think there'd be any need for a background in tropes, rather "knowledge" such as that could ease him more than agitate.

      Finally he made contact, more or less as if he was tripping ( I don't mind the banter and easy-going way it's quite enjoyable to read but someone who I don't think read LitRPGs should be scared and shocked out of their wits ) and then gets introduced to two kinds of currency. Now anyone who ever got anywhere knows that for some stuff you pay less in one currency than another or sometimes some currency is preferred or exclusively demanded. Take US Dollars for example, if you go to China and possibly many other countries as well, you will get less for Dollars than if you'd pay with the local currency, might get scammed more easily, nevertheless in many occasions they very much like ( used to like, no idea how it is now there) if you pay with Dollars.

      But that's just one example of why how and where it makes sense to question circumstances. Since he knows he got quite the helpful starting push from his patron deity as well as that there will be a very high chance of failure, he should normally try to do what any commando/soldier/agent/ninja/stewardess would do in such a situation, gather as much intel as possible with the least bit of commitment before knowing what any action entails - wastefully spending a foreign currency for comfort items when you don't even know what you might need it for, where or even if you'll get more of it and how much of it is not something I'd expect from a careful street-smart survival guy.

      stern trooper

      stern trooper @stern trooper ago

      I think that we see this differently because we are overestimating and underestimating different things. It doesn't mean that of us is wrong, just that we have different perspectives on the same subjects.

      You think that someone living through hardship would become wary, I think that while it's true for someone in their 10's,20's or maybe even 30's, people who live until a greater age will have many more experiences to draw from and affect their personality.

      You think he should be scared out of his wits, I think that someone who has seen what he has seen until that point, and even came to term with his own death, just won't care much about things out his control like how the locals look.

      Even when you say "any commando/soldier/agent/ninja/stewardess", is such a generalization accurate? People come out of that kind of life with different mindsets: some become analytical, some become straightfoward to a fault, some become psychopaths others become fatalists and just go throught the motion. It really depends on who you were to begin with. That might be the origin of the confusion, because you seem to already have defined the MC as careful guy when he has been pretty relaxed about most things until this chapter.

      Also, I didn't mean that being trope savy would agitate him, but the opposite. The point is that the MC would make less mistakes, but yeah, I don't want a perfect or "Light Yagami" kind of MC. We know that he got a big push from his patron, but until now he only knows he had some help.

      No need to worry really, it's great to know thought that deeply about aspects of the story and it helps me see things I might not have paid attention to. Thanks again for taking the time to write your opinion!


Serpentine13 @Serpentine13 ago

Interesting. I assume shards are different realities/worlds connected by the Gods in someway? Or maybe their term for continents and the oceans are too dangerous for most to traverse. Also, is the Deep an old God or is it under the jurisdiction of Djin?


Nakkus @Nakkus ago

Thanks for the chapter!

thejoker195 @thejoker195 ago

~"my immediate 'intention'."..,am guessing you mean't attention?

~that it was nothing if not determined., unless he purposefully referred to adros as an it, i wager you meant he?, really loving this story, thanks for the chapter.

Jeff091 @Jeff091 ago


thanks for the story


my immediate intention.