Mia wondered, just when did it all begin?
Was it because she said "Treat me just like one of the guys?"
Was it because she said "I want you to train me?"
She was now half beaten up, collapsed on the ground, unable to even move.
Just how did things come to this?
Mia was now regretting having not believed in the realism of skills becoming more powerful as one became more injured.
This was because she was now being forced to learn the bandit class skills, [Savagery] and [Raid], by Dega!
[Savagery] – One will draw out more strength when in desperate situations or weakened states. Passive skill. Level 1 effect: Attack increases by 15% when HP is under 50%. Maximum of 25% increase in Attack when HP is at 1%. This was a common warrior type job class skill available to several job classes, most famously used by the berserker class.
[Raid] – Increases user's Attack and speed for a short duration of time while sacrificing Defense. Buff skill. Level 1 effect: Attack and speed increased by 15%, Defense decreased by 30%. Costs 3 mana per second to maintain. This was a bandit-only job class skill that showcased the class's reliance on Attack and speed as the main statistics.
Dega started with teaching her a passive skill and a buff skill, saying that it was too early for her to being with fighting techniques right away. Since she already knew the basics of sword training thanks to Colson, he intended to shore up something else that she was missing: her basic conditioning.
According to Dega, it was required for her to get used to being in a state of semi-injury in order to properly learn the effects of [Savagery].
That's why, immediately after she said "I want you to train me," all he said was "Prepare yourself!" before immediately attacking her – and instantly knocking her flat onto the ground. Mia didn't even have a chance without Whimsy to reinforce her.
Dega controlled his attacks so that Mia wouldn't be seriously injured, striking only at her limbs.
"This is to toughen you up so that you'll become more resilient to taking blows in the future. Even if you have that Slime Armor of yours, it's no good if you're too soft on the inside. Just remember: this is for your own good!"
After decreasing Mia's HP through controlled attacks, Dega guided her on how to internally channel her mana to improve her body's physical potential while in a state of being forced to the brink.
Despite the fact that Mia felt tired and bruised, Dega kept forcing her to stand back up repeatedly only to knock her back down over and over again.
"Get back up on your feet! You've already rested for fifteen seconds! You need to get used to constantly being on the move! Now, come at me!"
The friendly Dega had been replaced with a different version once he entered instructor mode. He gave Mia the hardest course he learned in the mercenary group, thinking that she would perhaps whine and give up. After all, didn't all children hate being told "It's for your own good" more than anything else?
However, Mia was someone who could perfectly accept the phrase "It's for your own good." Unlike a real child, it was quite easy for her to understand the potential benefits of undergoing such training, even if it was rather difficult.
She could feel the power coursing through her veins… of a massive 1 extra Attack boosting her strength. Ok, fine, she could barely notice the difference due to her low base Attack rating, but something did indeed feel different. Rather than the throbbing pain in her body making it harder for her to focus as it normally would, she actually found her concentration even clearer than usual.
"You know, some berserkers with a high level in Savagery will even intentionally injure themselves before battle in order to access their full strength right from the very start. You want to try something like that for your training?" Dega was mostly just joking with this. He just wanted to see if anything would possibly shake Mia, to get a reaction of some sort out of her
"I'm not a masochist, you know! Besides, I'm just a novice at this. I don't want to accidentally hurt myself more than intended or necessary. So, can you keep attacking me every day that we have training?"
Dega was rendered speechless. What was with a little girl like her knowing a word like masochist? But, when he thought about it more closely, didn't she have a point? What was he even doing, asking the silver-haired girl to injure herself? Technically, she was correct, as he was the better candidate to "injure her" as he was a trained fighter who could control his attacks so as to not actually injure Mia for real. He was completely lost for words.
Dega decided to change the topic to escape from the strange indescribable feeling he now had.
"Try attacking me with everything you have! I promise that I won't attack you this time; I'll only defend. You see, unarmed combat is the basics for all other styles of combat. I'm going to show you a few more pointers."
Mia glanced all over Dega's body as he assumed a defensive stance. Where should she attack? Well, the upper part of his body wasn't even an option as she wasn't tall enough. She decided to go with a punch to his stomach. While Dega was reasonably muscular, he wasn't buff to the point where he had a six pack of abdominal muscles. She felt that maybe she could at least make him feel something if she landed a blow there.
When Mia tried a high jab (for her) to Dega's stomach, he swiftly moved his right arm down to his stomach area and blocked Mia's punch attempt. Mia felt as if she had punched a rock, and winced as she shook her hand in pain.
"Hey, didn't you say that you would only defend yourself? Why did it hurt so much when I punched you? And, how did you block me so quickly?"
"You made your attack far too obvious," Dega told her bluntly. "You were staring at my stomach almost as if you wanted to eat me. Any semi-skilled opponent will easily be able to read an attack like that. And, while I did say that I would only defend myself, what idiot would ever let themselves take hits for free? I simply moved to block the attack that I saw coming. As for why your hand hurts, that's because you still lack conditioning. Your hand is too soft."
Dega paused for a moment to catch his breath after saying so much in one go before continuing to speak. "My muscles are much harder after mercenary service and training, you see. However, I'm only someone who's in an offensive combat class. Those in defensive knight-type job classes have defensive skills that can improve their toughness even further, and some even rely on reflecting damage back at the attacker. You need to train your own body even further so that you don't injure yourself as easily. This is known as conditioning."
Mia nodded in acceptance of this. Although she sounded like she was complaining just earlier, it was just her way of asking a question in order to learn. She had always been the inquisitive type in class who liked to ask the teacher questions. So, her attacks were too easy to read? Maybe it was time she tried a little deceit herself then, such as her previous idea of calling out a fake attack name while doing something else instead…
As Mia and Dega trained together, they were suddenly interrupted. Apparently, Whimsy had gotten bored of simply watching on the sidelines. Or, maybe Whimsy was feeling hostile towards Dega as he continually attacked and knocked Mia down onto the ground. Whimsy joined in to attack Dega as well!
Although somewhat surprised by this, Dega easily dealt with Whimsy. Her attacks were even simpler than Mia's, as she basically attacked by trying to directly jump him. Considering that in a way, Whimsy was part of Mia's combat strength as well, he allowed the two of them to team up together to try facing him.
"Just remember to not rely on your slime companion too much. You never know when there might be a situation where your little friend here is incapacitated or isn't with you. And if you use her overly much as a crutch, that'll also hinder your own personal strength. Only by enhancing your own base stats and foundations will you be able to have greater output and efficiency when in a situation where you can only rely on yourself. This will help you to become more aware of your own physical limits and weaknesses as well."
Even when fighting together, the combination of Mia and Whimsy were unable to land even a single blow on Dega. Still, neither showed signs of giving up. Mia suddenly became curious, were slimes capable of learning skills for humans as well? Could they even be taught? Was she going to have a pet bandit slime before having slime bandits?
In the end, after being beaten into the ground for the umpteenth time, the girl and the slime laid listlessly on the ground, unable to rise up anymore.
Dega nodded in satisfaction, as Mia had been tougher than he expected, not having given up due to the difficult training. In fact, he even found himself quite pleased at having such a good student. Wait, what happened to his desire for some minor payback? That feeling had completely disappeared as he found himself taking the training surprisingly seriously as it went on. He even gave her his best advice, even if he was unsure how well she would absorb or understand it. Well, even if she didn't, he would beat it into her bones until she did. These lessons had her life at stake, after all.
"Okay, let's stop here for today. Too much training will also have the opposite effect from intended. Make sure to rest well. You could try activating [Raid] on yourself whenever your mana is replenished again, however. I chose this skill for you because you have more base mana than the rest of us, so you can maintain it for a longer period of time. Not only that, your Defense is so low already that you can afford to sacrifice your personal Defense stat. I think it will go well with your Slime Armor technique or whatever, as it shouldn't affect her defense rating."
Dega then considered the merits of the Slime Armor before speaking up again. "You know, generally speaking, the offensive classes like Berserker avoid wearing heavy armor even though some people are strong enough to equip it, because heavy armor will reduce their speed. Does your Slime Armor not affect your mobility at all? It can even remain hidden? This is a truly interesting idea you've come up with. Just how did you think of such a strategy, anyways? Can you show me as well? I'm interested in testing it out for myself."
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