Mia caught her breath and rested on the ground as she explained to Dega about the process she used to befriend Whimsy.
"In the end, I think that she's just a foodie," Mia spoke in a fond manner as she glanced over at Whimsy, who was resting next to her with an expression of listlessness. Whimsy had no tongue, but Mia idly imagined Whimsy having one anyways, panting as if she was a small dog exhausted from summer heat, although it was almost winter.
"I set up a scenario where Whimsy came to my rescue for being her food source," Mia continued. "If you would like, since you don't have control over elemental mana, I could try doing the same thing for you with another Wind Slime."
Dega shook his head. "I'm not sure I can take care of such a creature after all. Wouldn't I have to feed it constantly? It's not like you can always be around to feed it. For the time being, it's not like I can go and work at the Hart mansion right now even if I wanted to. I'm considered a wanted criminal, after all."
Mia thought about it some more and imagined having to feed a horde of Wind Slimes all by herself. That actually sounded far more draining than even today's training… she now felt that there was a need for her to investigate just what exactly ordinary, non-elemental slimes ate for their food. Otherwise, she would be drained dry of all her mana if she had to act as the food source for a Wind Slime for everyone…
"Could you take a look at these for me?" Mia brought out the ice magic skill book and potion that she received from the cave before. "I haven't used this potion yet because I'm unable to identify what it is. Also, is this ice magic skill book something I can even use?"
"Ice magic?" Dega received the items and started looking through the book first. "Well, for one thing, you don't have to worry that these are anything dangerous. The God of Adventurers usually doesn't put items that are harmful to you in his treasure chests unless he really disfavors you for some reason."
"Oh? What about you? What kinds of items has the God of Adventurers given you?" A few examples of what someone else received would be nice.
"Well, pretty much everything that I'm wearing, actually. Don't you know that equipment you can pick off the ground is far better than the equipment you can find in shops? It's not like being a bandit pays well, so I can't afford to buy equipment in shops. Besides, people always keep top-tier equipment for themselves, rather than selling it. You can even find food in some treasure chests, which is really helpful, as it saves the trouble of having to always scrounge for food."
Mia didn't know what to say at this. Picking up equipment off the ground gave you stronger equipment than shops could? Well… technically, many games did have such a setting where equipment earned from boss monsters and dungeons or instances were far better than mass-produced equipment found in shops. However, it felt really strange when being applied to real life!
There was even food available in treasure chests? Indeed, while this was also somewhat common in games, Mia felt rather hesitant about eating something that came out of a treasure chest. It was fine when it was still a game, but who wanted to actually eat food that had been sitting around in a treasure chest for god knows how long? Didn't this type of food have expiration dates?
If she was hungry enough due to starvation, perhaps she wouldn't care anymore… Mia shuddered at the thought. That was just how things were in this world.
She tried to think about which location she should go to in order to check if all the items in the chests were still the same as she remembered in the game… It needed to be a place that was relatively low level as well, enough for Mia and her companions to handle.
The main problem with any place she could recall was the issue of geography. The entire game took place in the Rodan Kingdom! What was with her being in the neighboring kingdom of Hoplia instead? This wasn't how reincarnation stories was supposed to go!
Any planned visit to the Rodan Kingdom would have to wait until she was old enough as well as being able to make decisions for herself. She decided to forget about this for the time being until after Count Hart was taken care of.
Meanwhile, Dega finished glancing over the ice magic skill book and shook his head, handing it back to her. "This is a nice skill, I'd think, but not one that you'll be able to learn. Rank C means that it's an intermediate-level technique already. There's class-specific skills like the bandit's [Raid], and generalist skills like [Swordsmanship] that anyone can learn. You can try reading it if you want, and I don't think any harm will come of it. Still, unless you have talent for controlling ice mana, which means you'd be in an ice mage class, I doubt you can do anything with it."
Mia nodded and accepted the book wordlessly. Weren't there always cases in games of receiving seemingly useful items that later turned out to be for a future party member? Or, if she really needed money, she could always sell it off or exchange it in the future, although she didn't know how much money this book was worth.
The potion was simply a clear vial which contained some murky yellow unidentifiable liquid inside. At the very least, Mia had no idea what it was, and didn't want to experiment using herself if she didn't have to.
Dega uncorked the vial and took a careful whiff. Whatever he smelled caused him to furrow his eyebrows before he quickly corked the vial again. Considering the color of the potion, Mia couldn't help but wonder if it had a smell similar to that of pee?
"This is a level 1 Paralysis Potion," Dega spoke while holding his nose. "Level 1's effects are rather weak, but inhaling or coming into contact with it will still make you feel slightly numb. Of course, those with a high enough Resistance stat will be able to ignore its effects entirely."
"Thank you." Mia gave her gratitude as she took the Paralysis Potion back from Dega. She then paused for a moment as she recalled something. "Do you know how to synthesize potions? I've been collecting quite a number of stingers from the Humongous Bees in Clearlight Forest, thinking that perhaps I can somehow put the toxins to use, mild as they are. Any ideas?"
"You've been collecting bee stingers?" Once again, Dega was astonished at the silver-haired girl's hobbies. Weren't girls her age typically more interested in playing with dolls or toy building blocks instead of cutting off monsters' body parts?
"Yep. I got the idea from reading about it in a book."
"Erm… You'll have to find someone with a talent for potion-making for that, I'm afraid. I can only identify the most common types of potions, and I have no idea how to create them. Nor does anyone I know have the potion-making talent. It's not too common around these parts. You'll have to go to a much bigger city than the ones around here."
Mia shook her head in disappointment. "This should only be a basic talent that can be commonly found. In a way, this is all thanks to my father's despotic policies, which have probably caused the most talented individuals to leave the Hart domain already. Normally, with a high enough population, common talents like potion-making, foraging, mining, and so on should be quite easy to find. Education in the Hart domain is really lagging behind. I don't know what it's like in the other domains, but much needs to be improved about the Hart domain."
"Well, I don't know anything about improving the educational system and all that, so I'll be leaving that up to you… Milady Mia Hart."
"…Whoa there, why are you suddenly addressing me like that?"
"Because I think that you're worthy of the title. I have a feeling that the future will be in good hands if you're in charge."
Mia was somewhat embarrassed with Dega's directness. It wasn't like she was some expert politician or reformist. In fact, she knew nothing about how to run a domain other than what she learned in kingdom-building simulation games. Mia could only tell herself that Dega's praise was because almost anyone would seem like a massive improvement compared to Count Hart.
"…If you say so. At any rate, let's prepare for the upcoming tax collection and meet again one day before it's going to happen. Talk to your men and see what they think. Also, even if you're not able to join me right away because you're recognized as a wanted criminal, what about the others with you? Try to send a few of them to join the Hart provincial army and see if they'll get accepted. I need more people by my side."
"Got it, I'll discuss it with the guys and gather their opinions. …By the way, do you need some help returning home?" He just witnessed Mia attempting to stand up and wincing noticeably, even using Whimsy as a crutch in the end. Were slimes such all-purpose creatures after all due to the nature of their bodies?
"I'll be fine," Mia stated while leaning on Whimsy. However, what she didn't expect was that the green Wind Slime was also much wobblier than usual, which caused Mia to fall back down on the ground yet again! It was impossible to know just how many times she had fallen down today, mostly due to Dega's strict training.
"Come, I'll help carry you on my back through the forest to nearby the Hart mansion." The brown-haired bandit crouched down and offered his sturdy back to Mia.
"…Thank you." With some hesitation, she ended up accepting. After all, it technically wasn't the first time he had carried her before. Mia told herself that she definitely couldn't let this become a habit.
And so, Dega carried Mia back to an area in the forest close to the Hart residence, nagging her all the way as she nursed her battered body.
"Remember to drink lots of fluids after the training sessions. You need to stay hydrated and recharge yourself."
"You should start stretching before each round of training. It's important to prevent injury to your muscles."
"By the way, you can't train every day like this. It will damage your body too much. So, make sure to rest every other day."
"Your birthday is coming up soon in two weeks, you mentioned? I'll prepare a little something for you."
Mia bemusedly listened to Dega going on and on about the common sense of training like a worried mother. She knew some knowledge on how to train already, such as how she already alternated between sword training and magic training with Colson and herself. Still, it was helpful to have someone much stronger showing her the ropes, and it wasn't as if she could remember all the details on how to properly train by herself regardless.
"A birthday present? You don't really have to. I'm not really going to be celebrating my birthday anyways." Was there really anything worth celebrating on her birthday in this world? She was going to have a duel against her half-brother and was planning the downfall of her own family.
"Nah, don't worry about it. I can't give you much, but I'll think of something useful to give you."
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