"Yes, I have some matches on me. Being able to create a fire when out adventuring is one of the most basic requirements of survival, after all." Colson brought out some matches and showed them to Mia.
Mia inwardly heaved a sigh of relief. To be honest, she was still unfamiliar with the overall technological level of this world, but now it appeared that it was quite high for a medieval one. She had been quite worried that she would have to try starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together or striking some stones for sparks. It wasn't like she knew how that actually worked, though.
Not only did matches exist, the printing press or something similar obviously existed as well, since the literacy level in this world was such that average commoners could read. Skill books seemed to be fairly commonplace. And most importantly of all, there were toilets!
If only she knew that reincarnation existed, she would have studied some more practical classes in college rather than Psychology and Political History… Why couldn't she have been one of those overprepared survivalists? She was just an ordinary college student, a nerd with high grades who loved to play video games.
Mia took the matches from Colson and thanked him. She decided against saying anything else for now, leaving him to his own devices. It was Colson's own responsibility to develop himself. Teaching him wasn't something that she wanted to do, or felt she was qualified for. If she taught him, then who was supposed to teach her?
The issue with Colson was one that Mia felt internally conflicted about. She was quite appreciative of his direct, trustworthy, and honorable nature. In fact, she recruited him for those precise reasons. He was also the first person she made a real connection to of some sort in this world.
She had no wish to see him die due to his naivety. Unfortunately, Mia knew that this world wasn't nearly as bright as he envisioned it, starting right from his dream to join the army and defend the people. Well, it was up to him how he handled finding out the truth of the Hart army that he joined during the tax collection two days from now.
If he continued to support her after undergoing a crash course in what the real world was like, Mia planned on telling him about her future plans like overthrowing her own family. She also needed to introduce him to Dega, which she hadn't done yet out of concern for their wildly differing backgrounds.
Not wanting to undergo the experience of mana fatigue again, Mia rested for approximately ten minutes while Colson continued to work on his breathing technique again and mulled over her earlier words.
"Alright, ready to continue where we left off?" Mia finished resting and felt quite refreshed. She hadn't used up all her mana like the previous experiment, and Whimsy was supporting her this time as well, making it much easier to recover her energy. "Are you going to challenge my spell again?"
"Yeah," Colson nodded. "At the very least, I need to figure out the mechanics of your spell and how to defend against it. Also, I won't be fooled by you this time!" He added the last part with a mild glare that looked more like a pout than anything else.
"Teehee, if you say so." Mia was interested as well in seeing if he could develop some counter to her spell. While she figured that [Drain Air]'s greatest use would be against unsuspecting enemies, she couldn't count out the possibility that more powerful opponents might notice what she was doing and protect themselves.
They entered the storeroom together again and faced off against each other, with the unconscious rat still in a corner of the storeroom. Mia suddenly had the feeling as if Colson was somehow turning into a rival who was going to challenge her endlessly until he won – that wasn't really going to happen, was it? He was supposed to be her bodyguard and helper! Maybe she should consider letting him "win" on purpose for the sake of his ego… but only after some more experimentation.
This time, Mia began casting [Drain Air] on the storeroom immediately without even saying anything about having started. It was only natural that the "Windstorm!" misleading tactic wouldn't work on Colson again right away, so she tried something else this time.
"By the way, does mana fatigue affect warriors like yourself as well as mages?" Mia asked nonchalantly while also making another air pocket around her like previously.
Mana fatigue had placed a great strain on Mia's body during the last experiment when she intentionally used up all her mana to ascertain what would happen. She was curious if it would similarly affect non-mages like Colson and Dega. After all, in video games, even if a warrior-type character ran out of mana or whatever resource required to cast skills, they were still far more useful than mages with empty mana bars thanks to being far more proficient with the basic attack command. What would it be like for Colson?
"Ah, mana fatigue? Yes, it affects us as well, but not as much as it would for a mage like yourself, Milady. That's because warriors use a different method of utilizing mana, known as mana compression for internal mana control, while mages use mana emission for external mana control. Compression is far more efficient compared to emission, because the difficulty is far higher to control mana outside our bodies compared to within. That's why even if a warrior runs out of mana from using too many skills, he'll be much less affected by mana fatigue compared to a mage. I think my grandfather taught me before that it's only an approximate ten percent reduction in combat strength for a warrior."
Mia listened attentively to Colson's explanation while simultaneously draining the air from the room. While Dega had taught her how to cast the self-buff bandit class [Raid] skill on herself, he didn't go over mana usage with her at all. Dega's type of training made it obvious that his expertise was with physical toughness, not slightly higher-level knowledge such as mana. If she could combine aspects of both their styles and teachings, wouldn't that be good for own development?
"Is it possible for me to learn mana compression as well? What if I want to enter a physical sub-class? I think I already know how to perform mana emission on my own, but is it possible to learn both methods of using mana?" For now, Mia left out the part where she had actually entered a bandit sub-class already.
"Uh, I suppose it's possible if you wish to enter a physical sub-class, but I've heard that it's not really recommended. As you probably know already, anyone who starts training their power level will receive a predetermined primary job class based on their natural talents and attributes. Learning both types of mana control, however, is said to dilute one's power level. Besides, Milady, mages like yourself will typically have poorer base stats in physical attributes. It's recommended that you enter either a magic or support type secondary job class." The red-haired teenager continued to advise Mia as he viewed it as part of his role as both her sword teacher and bodyguard.
Dilute her power level? She was already assessed as the weakest magic rank there was. Could it really get any worse for her? Mia felt that rather than judging too much by power levels, proper application of one's abilities was far more important. She instantly made up her mind to learn mana compression at a later date to further study the topic of mana control on her own.
"Thank you, that was very helpful. Perhaps we can talk more about this subject at a later date, I'd love to hear more. For now –"
At this point, Mia stopped talking, because Colson suddenly fainted! Whimsy was faster to react than Mia was, and acted to cushion Colson's fall, darting between him and the floorboard.
Colson was still feeling a bit of a slight headache when he woke up again five minutes later to discover that he was now resting on a slime pillow. He hurriedly shook himself awake and stood up, causing a wave of dizziness to wash over him. Yet, he had to ask in order to clear away his confusion.
"Milady? Weren't we just discussing the fundamentals of mana control? What just happened to me?" He was still under the impression that the magic experiment hadn't begun at all, as Mia hadn't mentioned the beginning of her attack like last time. Once again, he hadn't made use of his breathing technique as he was speaking to her all the time. Hadn't he just been teaching her some basic knowledge? What just happened?
"Oh, you see, I started casting my spell while I was asking you to teach me," Mia informed him directly. "Just like announcing one's attacks, not everyone will be so kind as to tell you that they're an enemy who wants to kill you. If I was actually your enemy and not your employer, you'd be dead right now despite the fact that I'm just a little girl who's much weaker than you. You're supposed to be my bodyguard, yet you couldn't defend against my spell two times in a row. Remember, a bodyguard always needs to remain vigilant at all times."
While she had no desire to become his teacher, Mia viewed this as simply imparting some common sense to him. If she could fool him so easily, wouldn't it be the same for others as well?
Colson didn't know what to say in response to Mia's frank admission. While he felt like he disagreed with the essence of her words, he was unable to come up with a rebuttal. He had allowed himself to be distracted twice in a row and wasn't even able to check if his breathing technique would work against her air removal spell or not.
"Milady… I apologize. I was derelict in my duties." Colson bowed lowered his head in shame. "What you have said is true. I would understand if you wish to relieve me of my post." In the end, he felt that he could only admit his incompetence and take any punishment that Mia wanted to hand out to him, including firing him from his job.
The silver-haired girl shook her head. "It's fine. Nobody is perfect. Didn't you say that we should train and learn how to become stronger together?" Mia stood up on tiptoe and patted Colson on the head. She suddenly got the impression that she was the older sister type character here despite the obvious age difference between them. Well, she supposed that technically she was mentally older than he was, even if not by much.
Mia then pushed up on Colson's chin and tilted her head backwards, doing her best to be able to meet his eyes directly. "Weren't you challenging my spell just now to see if you could defend against it? Is failing two times really enough to make you give up, Colson Azure? Shouldn't a proper knight have an indomitable spirit? Show me your resolve!"
Mia did her best to give a speech that she felt like some classic hot-blooded protagonist would say, feeling that this type of motivational speech would work the best on someone with Colson's personality. Technically, this wasn't what her true personality was like. It was more that she would adapt herself to whoever she was dealing with.
"Milady… I… thank you for giving me another chance to prove myself and reminding me what's truly important, to never give up!" The cloudy aura around Colson seemed to be lifting already. He clasped both his hands around one of Mia's much smaller hands and shook it vigorously. "I promise to serve and protect you faithfully, Milady! I shall make sure that you have nothing to fear!"
Mia breathed a sigh of relief at seeing how Colson had evidently been consoled by this. In a way, this was yet another experiment of hers. Colson's personality was rather easy to read, but she still wanted to know just how accurately she could read him and predict his way of thinking.
In the future, she would surely be meeting many characters from the game itself, each with their own unique personalities. Would it be possible for her to respond appropriately to each game character in turn to better her own situation? Would the game characters remain true to their personalities, or would things be changed due to her presence as a butterfly effect? How should she adapt? There were so many unknowns.
Mia couldn't help but wonder if she was becoming a little selfish or twisted due to this new world she was in.
Hey everyone, I made a discord channel for this novel! Please join if you're interested! https://discord.gg/A9UKpww
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