Mia began her long days of training under the tutelage of "instructor" Colson Azure.
Although Colson had the skill of [Intermediate Swordsmanship,] a few days after training began, Mia finally had the new skill of [Beginning Swordsmanship lvl. 1] added to her status window. Apparently certain skills would automatically be upgraded upon reaching certain criteria.
She mostly practiced the simple, repetitive motions of horizontal slashes, vertical slashes, diagonal slashes, and stabbing. According to Colson, these were the movements that she needed to ingrain into her body first. Higher-level techniques like dealing with various different enemy weapon types and blocking enemy weapons would only come much later. Colson taught Mia the same way that he had been by his grandfather, from the foundation up.
"Correct your posture! Keep your arm straight and raise it another two centimeters!"
"Too slow! You'll be dead if you react this slowly in a battle! Do it over again ten more times!"
Colson was an effective, if dull instructor. A normal young child probably would have found his lessons boring and given up out of frustration, but Mia had been through more than ten years of the schooling system already and was used to far more boring tasks already.
To be honest, Mia didn't know for sure just how strong or weak Colson was considered in this world, but that didn't matter to her. Sense of naive righteousness aside, he was hard-working, and in her eyes that automatically qualified him as stronger than the average guard in her father's employ. She felt no need to have him do something so immature as compete against the guards. It was better to keep her future weapons concealed until they were ready to be used.
So, Mia was satisfied with starting from the foundations. It was exactly what she needed, as someone who had never so much as touched a weapon in her past life. As a previously excellent student with top grades, she realized that nothing came for free in life and that hard work was required in order to succeed, or as how success was measured in this world, to get stronger.
All this training didn't come for free, of course. Mia went to Count Hart again and requested for Colson to be hired as her personal escort and bodyguard. She didn't tell Count Hart anything about intending to learn the sword, preferring instead to keep it a secret. After all, why was she planning on learning the sword in the first place? The monster invasion was still ten years in the future, but she already intended to depose her father and take power for herself.
Mia even tried using some basic acting and fawned over Colson's supposed handsome appearance to her father. It succeeded by thoroughly convincing Count Hart as he believed his daughter was taking after his own fashion: wanting to fulfill a personal desire for a pretty face through the use of money. He graciously paid Colson an extra 200 elemental shards per month for the increase in status, bringing Colson's monthly salary up to 1400 shards per month.
Of course, this caused no small amount of jealousy amongst the guards when they learned how an uppity newcomer had somehow received such a "promotion" via the favor of the young lady of the house. Mia herself only sighed at learning of Colson's salary. While it was sufficient for Colson to live on, Mia remembered how just a week earlier her father had burned that merchant to death while haggling over several thousand elemental shards at once.
While Mia wasn't a believer in equal distribution of wealth or anything like that, she knew that too much of an income disparity between the top and bottom would only result in civil unrest. Before her father's crimes came to light, she needed to ensure the stability of this domain that she bore name to. Otherwise, either a civil unrest or royal execution would be all that awaited her, two all too familiar common bad endings to Mia. It was just human nature to seek self-preservation after all, wasn't it?
One month after her swordsmanship training began, Mia was still at only [Beginning Swordsmanship lvl. 1.] It seemed that this skill would not be so easy to increase. She was able to remain patient about it, as she was already accustomed to studying for many hours at a time or grinding for several hours in a game from her previous life. Colson was the one who was left wondering just how Mia could put up with the swordsmanship drills that even he considered as boring when he was just a little kid. If it wasn't for his passionate fervor in wanting to seek a life of adventure, he would have given up long ago before he could even start on the path to becoming a swordsman!
Mia also saw improvement in the evidence that her stats were beginning to increase slowly but surely. Although her level had remained at 1, her hit points and attack had both increased by 1 point each, perhaps signifying an improvement in her physical strength and stamina. Magic had also risen by 1 point, as Mia hadn't been slacking off in her personal magic practice even though she didn't have an actual teacher for this. She believed that as she got older, as long as she kept training herself, her stats would continually improve until she reached an eventual stat ceiling where it would be difficult to improve any further.
For today however, Mia called off her training in both magic and swordsmanship. She had asked Colson two days ago to prepare for a trip outside to the nearby Clearlight Forest east of the city of Palmo that they were in.
Mia had already learned from her tutor that the Clearlight Forest contained some very low-level weak monsters, and she set a goal for herself to begin gaining some actual experience in real-life combat, with Colson backing her up as a failsafe.
Of course, since the Clearlight Forest was filled with only a few weak monsters, there was plenty of information available on the monster types within it. Mia was a firm believer in doing her research before taking any planned action, after all.
Skills: Poison Sting
Magic: Depends on element
Of the monsters in the forest, the Wild Boars and Humongous Bees were considered the aggressive type that would attack humans on sight. Slimes were friendlier and wouldn't attack a human unless provoked, and people mostly left them alone due to the slimes' naturally high defense ratings. The low levels of the monsters in the forest meant that even a single villager would typically be able to pass through unscathed with no problems.
However, Mia had a second goal in addition to using the Clearlight Forest as her training grounds. She wanted to capture a magical elemental slime!
According to her memories of the game, there was a massively popular "pet" system in the game where the player character and each NPC character would be able to befriend and tame wild non-boss monsters! Non-aggressive and lower-level monsters such as slimes were the easiest of all to capture. Of course, very few players would assign such pets to their characters past the tutorial stages, Mia had something different in mind.
What would players normally look for in a pet for combat? The typical answer would be either high damage capabilities, or some sort of special ability that could help turn the tides of battle such as a stunning effect.
However, Mia was now in a game world that differed from a game in a critical aspect: she didn't have the ability to save and load! One mistake would mean that everything was over for her! Therefore, Mia decided to prioritize defense, defense, defense! This was simply in her nature as someone with a cautious personality above all. However, she knew that her natural class of [Wind Mage] wasn't exactly suited for melee-range close combat, so she needed to make up for it somehow. In other words, she was looking for a tank!
It could be said that the developers of the game were lazy and copied many common monsters such as the slime from many other games and placed them in the tutorial section of the game. In this game, they were color-coded according to the elements for convenience, and posed no threat to the main character's party, having only high defense and not so shabby resistance with incredibly low attack. As pets, the slimes weren't able to cast any attack spells, but instead could provide a 10% bonus to elemental spells of the slime's respective attribute.
In her past life, Mia had a baby dragon as a pet. The most important reason was that it was cute! Baby dragons had decent combat capabilities as well, but they were actually an end-game monster, unobtainable until the player character had a very high skill level in monster taming. Although Mia wanted to be able to meet her golden baby dragon once again, dragons wouldn't appear in this world for another ten years, having been re-awakened from their deep slumbers by the future apocalypse that began the Age of Chaos. She definitely didn't have the time to wait that long.
Mia was now focused on practicality above all else. In a turn-based RPG game, having a slime pet may not have been useful as it lacked any abilities that could attract the enemies' attention towards itself. But now that the game world had turned real, Mia had some creative ideas in her mind about how to use its high defenses. If only she could make an armor out of slime… cough cough, that sounded a little wrong.
There were also many things Mia wanted to experiment with in real combat. She had a weak child's body and only some magical spells that were unsuited for combat, so the only thing she could rely on would be her memories of game mechanics and events.
The first thing Mia wanted to confirm was about HP, as this concerned her own life. The gap between her and Colson's levels was too huge, as he would likely be able to knock her out with only one or two hits, so a serious practice would be meaningless. According to Mia's sensibilities, a person standing with 1 HP being able to fight at full strength and dying to a single scratch seemed ridiculous. But when she asked Colson about it, as HP seemed to be a commonly accepted concept in this world, she found out that a decrease in HP would typically also decrease the person's stats by a small amount, and that having HP reduced to zero wasn't necessarily fatal. Instead, the person would be knocked out, but that would also be a dangerous situation in and of itself. Unlike in a game, where a party character with 0 HP would be rendered untargetable, real life enemies, both humans and monsters, would never go easy on someone just because the person was unconscious, after all. It would still be a dangerous situation to be in.
The second game mechanic Mia wanted to confirm was regarding experience. Her level had remained at 1 after all this time even though she was gradually improving. Was actual combat the only way to gain experience after all? And what exactly would happen to her if she leveled up?
As for other mechanics like how this was suddenly turned into a real-time strategy game instead of a turn-based RPG thanks to the fact that everything had turned real, she would have to figure it out with her upcoming experiments.
Mia was frustratingly unable to even land a blow on Colson, as he was able to dodge each and every one of her telegraphed novice-level attacks that were easy to read just like a book. That was also another reason why she suggested changing the practice to gaining practical experience in the nearby Clearlight Forest, which was a perfect area for beginners to train.
Mia now had a Wooden Practice Sword that provided a paltry +1 Attack, given to her by Colson. After all, she had no experience with swords in her previous life, and neither she nor Colson felt that it was a good idea to start from metal swords. She was also wearing a Light Cotton Dress that mystifyingly managed to provide +1 in Defense as well. …Of course, she also wore shorts beneath it.
As Mia's hired guard, Colson could only go together with her. There was a strong sense of hierarchy impressed into commoners' minds about the higher status of nobility, not to mention the fact that Colson was considered Mia's employee to begin with. He didn't mind, as he knew that he would easily be able to deal with any low-level monsters in a single blow or two. For today though, he was just supposed to hang back and only step in if necessary.
The Clearlight Forest was just one of many verdant forests in the Hart domain. There was a well-traveled path that cut through its middle, and monsters rarely ventured onto the path, having learned their lessons from the humans that often passed by. The trees weren't particularly dense, and there were many small clearings and fields, which was said to be the reason behind its naming.
Mia had a slight feeling of anticipation as she entered the forest with Colson behind her. As their goal wasn't to travel past the forest, they veered off the path and headed straight into the wooded area. Mia made a mental note of how Colson marked various trees on their way so that they wouldn't get lost when trying to exit the forest. While Colson was by no means an experienced adventurer himself, his grandfather had ingrained the basic survival techniques into him for future traveling use.
Just a few minutes after walking into the wooded area, they came across their first monster, a Wild Boar.
Despite its name of boar, Mia privately felt that it was misnamed as it was only the size of a medium-sized dog. It had its back turned to Mia and was preoccupied with nibbling something at a tree's roots. Its body was short and stout, and it was definitely pink in color. This "boar" wasn't hairy at all. Wasn't this more of a pig than a boar?
Still, the beginning-level monsters were the same in Hoplia as the game's main country of Rodan. Mia knew that a tamed Wild Boar could also grow in level together with the player character and eventually transform into a majestic hog, well, as majestic as a hog could be. Wild Boars were specialized in speed and attack, but that wasn't what Mia was looking for. While pets in the game could be revived, that seemed to only be a player perk. Mia highly doubted that pets could simply be revived after dying in her new reality. It was simply too easy to kill Wild Boars that had only average HP and Defense, and there was also the fact that Mia didn't even know how to tame monsters that were naturally aggressive like the Wild Boar.
"Okay, so you have the chance to perform a sneak attack. Try to strike its back before it notices you!"
Colson whispered that piece of advice to Mia as she nodded. It was just common sense that back attacks were far harder to guard against than frontal attacks. If this was still a game with random encounters, perhaps this could even be termed as a "preemptive strike." But now, Mia could only rely on her own physical abilities, lacking as they were.
Mia slowly unbuckled the wooden sword buckled to her waist. Although it was dull, a wooden sword was still far better than using her bare fists, as she would likely only end up injuring herself.
She took a glance at the forest floor and judged that it would be difficult for her to approach entirely without getting noticed as her shoes would surely crunch the leaves beneath her feet. It wasn't like she was a Thief class or anything similar that could use stealth skills, after all. She decided instead to cast Light Breeze instead to stir up the leaves, hoping that the rustling sound would cover her footsteps.
Using that as her cover, Mia approached the Wild Boar. The distance between her and the Wild Boar was now approximately ten steps. She walked slowly and carefully… and suddenly started dashing from five steps away! The boar turned around when she was only three steps away, but its reaction was too late. There was a look of utter piggy surprise on its face as Mia succeeded in whacking it on its face right on the snout with a vertical slash!
Mia hadn't learned any true sword skills yet, so she already expected that she would be unable to defeat the Wild Boar in a single strike. Especially all the more so since Mia's level 1 stats as a mage class couldn't even compare to that of a Wild Boar's in HP, Attack, or Defense… she was inferior in every way, even with equipment factored in!
Of course, being a low-level non-magical monster, the Wild Boar had an inferior level of intelligence compared to higher ranked monsters. Wild Boars were merely one of the lowest-ranking types of monsters, a mutated form of a normal creature, the common pig. It even had lower intelligence than normal pigs, and was a creature purely of instinct.
That being said, Mia didn't underestimate the Wild Boar one bit. After all, she was just level 1 herself, and only a novice at fighting. And just because she wanted to experiment didn't mean that she was the type who enjoyed inflicting pain on herself for the sake of learning knowledge.
Mia hadn't placed her full force into her attack, because Colson had taught her that using her full force would cause it to take longer to recover her balance after the attack, something which smarter opponents would definitely take advantage of.
Right after the wooden sword connected with the boar's snout, Mia was already retreating in an effort to place distance between herself and the boar. However, the boar was furious at having its meal interrupted. Mia could see that the boar was huffing and snorting as its face turned red! It immediately stomped the ground with its hooves, and activated its species' only skill – Charge!
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