"You want to observe? It could be dangerous. Why would you want to watch a rat die, anyways?" Mia pondered upon what Colson could possibly be up to. Was it sheer curiosity killing the cat?
"I wish to understand the concept behind your magic in order to further strengthen myself. Physical fighters like me train our bodies by reinforcing our bodies and attacks with mana, which works internally as opposed to how mages like Milady utilize mana externally. It's said that warriors who've reached the peak possess the ability to deflect or dodge even the most powerful of magic spells. I simply wish to train myself together with Milady's magic training."
Seeing that Mia was nodding and listening to him, Colson continued his explanation. "I've never had the opportunity to train together with a mage before. Milady will surely face warrior-type opponents in the future if you continue down your path of training. This will be beneficial for both of us, so that we can better understand each other's abilities when cooperating with each other, as well as improving our skills against various types of opponents. Last time, Milady successfully caused a rat's death using your magic, but what of a human opponent? I'm much stronger than a mere rat and can handle myself. What does Milady think?"
Training was one of his favorite topics that he always took seriously. After having witnessed a spell that he didn't understand, Colson wanted nothing more than to test his mettle against it. He brimmed with anticipation as he eagerly waited for Mia's reply. Honestly, he didn't believe that "removing the air" from the room would work quite so easily against him. He was no defenseless rat who didn't know how to defend itself.
Mia closed her eyes and thought about Colson's offer to train each other's abilities together. His reasons were convincing and she really wanted to accept. However, what was she supposed to tell him?
Her main power was simply breeze magic, which lacked attack power on its own. Was she supposed to give a more scientific explanation regarding oxygen and its necessity for all humans? Not only would that be difficult for Colson to understand, it would also bring up the question of how someone as young as Mia knew about it.
And if she truly tried her spell against him, what if he ended up dying? Even if a human guinea pig would be useful for her experimentation, Mia would much rather experiment on an enemy rather than an ally. But other than that, all she could directly do was waft a gentle breeze at him or use some [Still Air] to impede his breathing. Just what should she do?
"You want to try defending yourself against my spell? Okay, that's fine. But, promise me that you'll tell me the moment that you start feeling uncomfortable. Also, this time, I'll be staying in the storeroom as well." Mia decided to take every single possible precaution and stop the moment that it seemed like Colson had any trouble.
There might be situations in the future where she would have to rely on this spell with someone else in close vicinity, so now was a good opportunity to learn more about her own limits, as long as she could carefully control this situation.
Colson began to mentally prepare himself after hearing Mia's agreement. She mentioned previously that her magic spell worked by removing the air in the room? Would he be able to ward it off by circulating his mana through his body and enhancing his breathing?
The red-haired boy was self-aware about his own shortcomings. While he had learned several offensive skills based on his swordsmanship skill, his defensive skills were sorely lacking. In this world, many skills could be self-created, not just taught. Colson was hoping for a breakthrough with his own bottleneck in strengthening his weaknesses.
The young noble girl entered the storeroom together with her hired bodyguard, who released one rat into the storeroom before placing the cage with the rest of the somewhat paralyzed rats outside. Mia stepped up onto a cargo box, not wishing to be distracted by a rat running around her feet. Colson closed his eyes and began channeling his limited mana, focusing fully on his breathing.
Mia didn't know what Colson was doing, but decided to proceed along with her own experiment. First, she enveloped herself in wind mana, creating an air pocket all around her. If she wanted to use her ability to its fullest, she had to make sure she could breathe while her opponents couldn't.
Right when she created the air pocket, Whimsy started moving around on Mia's body. At first, Mia presumed that Whimsy was merely interested in having another meal, since the slime typically reacted whenever she cast a spell. However, Mia soon felt a familiar cool sensation together with a slime tendril placed on her back.
The cool sensation was actually the Wind Slime amplifying Mia's mana with its own supporting mana! Perhaps Whimsy had detected how Mia was intending to cast more spells than usual here, or maybe it was a sign that the bond between them had grown stronger.
Wind Slimes had the ability of [Magic: Wind Support (passive) – 10% bonus to all Wind Magic skills.] This was actually yet another of the primary reasons Mia had for wanting to recruit an Elemental Slime. By having the correct element bonus, the slime would be able to enhance her own powers through the pet contract. It was just that Mia didn't know how to establish a formal pet contract still, so this had been only an aside while Mia focused instead on Whimsy's physical attributes which could protect herself.
A 10% bonus was actually considered a weak ability, just like Colson's swordsmanship bonus natural talent. There were plenty of monsters out there with far greater talent in casting magic compared to the slimes.
However, it was completely infeasible for Mia to go looking for any such monsters to become her pet. Monsters willing to serve humans still required the human to be stronger than the monster in question, so there was no way Mia could go searching for some high-level monster pet. It was far likelier that she would be killed in a single second if she ever tried it at her current level.
Mia was delighted to receive Whimsy's magic assistance as support, even opening her eyes and smiling. For some reason, her mind felt more refreshed and she could now concentrate without having to close her eyes.
It was now time to fully begin the experiment.
"Windstorm!" Mia shouted out loudly, causing Colson to expect strong winds coming at him. He reflexively held up his hands to cover his face.
"Windstorm" was nothing more than a red herring. Mia certainly had no such spell available in her arsenal. Instead, she began casting [Drain Air] on the storeroom, imagining all the air not present in her air pocket being pushed out of the room.
Colson held up his arms for several seconds until he finally realized that no powerful gales were coming at all. His face flushed slightly red in embarrassment at his own actions upon this realization. He then spoke up in a discontented tone.
"Milady, did you just call out the name of an attack that you didn't actually perform? Such a move isn't considered honorable, especially for a noble such as yourself…"
Due to the fact that he was now speaking, Colson was no longer able to maintain his breathing technique from earlier. When Mia shouted "Windstorm!", Colson naturally assumed that her spell utilized some powerful gusts to "remove the air" from the room, not realizing that the spell was actually carried out by soft, almost unnoticeable breezes.
Nothing seemingly happened, which made Colson preemptively believe that her spell had obviously been a failure.
He glanced around him, first seeing that the rat was furiously scratching at the ground to no avail. Well, this was only natural. Wasn't digging holes something that rats instinctively tried to do?
Colson then glanced in Mia's direction and saw that she was simply looking at him with an intensely focused gaze. However, it didn't appear that she was doing anything at all. Colson saw no telltale signs of casting magic that most other mages preferred to use in order to enhance the effectiveness of their spells.
It was general knowledge that while mages were able to incant spells nonverbally, speaking the spell's name out loud along with using certain flourishing movement patterns would aid in the mage's focus, making it easier for the mage to control the mana. However, Mia was just a self-taught mage who used her basic game knowledge to invent spells on her own, and didn't find it difficult to concentrate without such training wheels.
Not to mention, she wanted to try the effects of deceiving an opponent while casting her spells. Why was it that in literally every single game she ever played, the main characters always insisted on shouting the name of their attacks out loud? This wasn't even limited only to protagonists. Sometimes, villains would have this problem even worse than the heroes, always bragging about their powerful ultimate ability to the heroes and causing their own downfalls.
Mia carefully observed Colson and was quite pleased to see him reacting by raising his arms to defend his face. What was wrong with a little trickery in combat? It would be the opponent's own fault for being off guard. Mia resisted the urge to giggle at apparently having fooled Colson so easily. She ignored Colson's little speech about dishonorable actions and continued draining the air from the room.
Would honor still matter to him if he was dead? The answer to that question would determine just how salvageable he was, or if he was an idiot who believed in death before dishonor.
Still, Mia didn't dislike such innocence. It was just that she needed him to at least be able to accept certain ways she did things, even if he didn't entirely change his way of thinking.
Colson was about to speak up again when he felt a twinge of pain in his chest. Only when he opened his mouth did he notice that no words would come out due to his surprising breathlessness, as he spent all his effort on inhaling instead. Not only that, Colson touched his forehead as he was suddenly beginning to feel dizzy.
Mia immediately stopped casting [Drain Air] upon noticing that Colson wanted to speak but didn't and that he was clutching his forehead. She then sent a wave of fresh air at him to help him rapidly recover. Even Whimsy jumped over to Colson's side, offering a slimy tendril.
Colson regained his senses to find that Mia and Whimsy were now surrounding him with concerned looks on the duo's faces. He also noticed that the rat in the corner had stopped in its digging efforts. Was it dead? Prodding it with his shoe, Colson found that the rat was merely unconscious. But how, and why?
"This is the power of science. Remember, you said you wanted to become stronger as well, right? Your enemies definitely won't all be as nice and honorable as you are. A single little trick could be the end of you. Now then, do you have any matches on you? After I finish with these rats here, I'd like to experiment with fire next."
Hey everyone, I made a discord channel for this novel! Please join if you're interested! https://discord.gg/A9UKpww
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