After the table between Sgar and I broke, there were a few moments of silence. Then the crowd started clapping and cheering. I was met with claps on the back from many people- some of which I knew from before but some faces that were new as well. I couldn’t do much more than nod, and Sgar was breathing almost as heavily as me. “You’re pretty strong, kid,” Sgar nodded once he’d caught his breath. Meanwhile, I was still working on it. “If you want to be even stronger… well, I have a few ideas in mind.”
The people cheering briefly paused as the guild representatives came out about the broken table, and while Sgar paid for it everything calmed down. I hadn’t really intended to create a scene… but holding back against Sgar hadn’t even crossed my mind. He still won, anyway. Just not by a lot.
My lungs ached as I ran around the training yard. My leg and core muscles strained as well, but my lungs were the worst part of the exercise. If I had any spare energy to think, I might have realized that the lungs, which had no muscles of their own, were governed by Constitution- though the diaphragm muscles were responsible for their expansion and contraction. Instead, all I could do was think about running. Armor was heavy… and having a second person with armor on your back was even heavier. Sgar’s weight pressed down on my shoulders and arms. His legs just barely avoided scraping the ground in the piggyback position.
Anyone watching would have seen a rather ridiculous sight indeed… but waiting for a custom built lead jacket would take a few days. Besides, this was a different sort of weight distribution. I could very well need to run with someone on my back… but likely not someone as massive as Sgar.
At some point, my legs stopped functioning and I found myself on the ground. I think I blacked out, and found Sgar standing over me, having rolled me onto my back. “Your Constitution could use some work. Otherwise you can’t sustain all the work your Strength can do.”
I nodded. My lungs were still heaving, but they could only process oxygen so fast. That was the problem. Unfortunately Martial Adept didn’t help with training constitution- it didn’t make it harder to train either, but it wasn’t supported either. It wasn’t a class suited to long battles like a Barbarian, but it also made most battles shorter with its good offensive power. Strength and Dexterity supported by Martial Trance meant I could kill most things quickly. The only problem came when that didn’t work. While we had gotten through all of our battles, we couldn’t necessarily fight as well after them. Even so, we had at least had enough stamina left to run away. It was only in retrospect that I realized how much that could have been a problem. “How…” I panted, “Does anyone… make it to a higher level alive?”
Sgar laughed, “Haha, that’s the key point isn’t it? Many people don’t. If they do, it’s because they learned. Or they take a long time, and they get stronger naturally.” Sgar prodded me with his boot, “Unlike your group which grew from about level five to fifteen in a year… more or less. You obviously put in the time to train, or you would have met disaster sooner… but even with a talented group like yours it takes time.”
“Nobody told us.” I shook my head, “I’m not even sure how we could have expected what happened.” I had told Sgar about the fight with the minotaur boss, and being trapped in the hallway.
“That’s a problem, for sure. Not enough information is easy to find. Most of it’s sitting around in people’s noggins,” Sgar tapped his own head for emphasis, “Kantrilla’s Luck probably got you into and out of more bad situations than most face. I’m not saying you could have known, either, but now’s your chance. I hadn’t expected you to grow so quickly- maybe a mistake on my part, since I saw your first levels- but I’m full of plenty of good advice. Father Thomas as well. He hadn’t realized you were fighting minotaurs already from Kantrilla’s letters. Though it sounds like you were handling it pretty well.”
“Learning a Piercing Spear was very useful. Even minotaurs barely got to melee range that way.”
“Oh? You learned a spear throwing skill?” Sgar nodded, “I suppose I shouldn’t have expected different from a Martial Apprentice. Too bad you can’t carry many spears.”
“Yeah… I wish I could have a returning spear like Ruslan. It seems… very useful.”
“Ruslan? You saw him use a spear?”
I nodded, “Yeah, he came for the hydra subjugation. I actually learned from him.”
“Ruslan taught you? How did you manage that?”
“Umm… Luck? Mostly. He said I needed to be strong, and I asked for a chance. Then he just ended up teaching me.”
“Luck indeed. So, what was his assessment? You learned Piercing Spear that way, right?”
“Sure, it wasn’t very long though. I think he said I was… adequate.”
Sgar clapped his hands together, “Really? Now I need to see you throw a spear. You should have improved a lot since then, right?”
“Hmm, I do have a few skill levels. Its nothing like him though…”
“Of course not. Now then, I think you’ve had enough of a break…” Sgar brought me over to the archery range- which was used with all types of ranged weapons- and handed me a spear. “Now then, throw.”
I took my throwing stance, first starting with the memory of how he had adjusted my stance… and then the image of him throwing. I couldn’t replicate the exact feeling of his throw, but I did my best. The spear flew straight and true, flying into the bullseye… and out the back of the target. The stand it was on collapsed as the spear went through the back support and into the dirt behind it. “Hmm. That’s much better than before. I still need to buy one that can come back but that’s very expensive…”
Sgar nodded approvingly, “It’s pretty good indeed. As for the money, though… don’t bother. Do you really think Ruslan pays for his spears to have a returning enchantment on them?”
“It came back… so it should?”
Sgar shook his head. “Nonsense. That’s only for casual users of throwing weapons… and he certainly isn’t that.”
“If it’s not a magical enchantment then… is it a skill?”
“That’s right,” Sgar grinned. “And I just happen to know someone who can teach it. I would learn it myself but… well… Barbarians don’t learn such semi-magical skills very well. It’s still weapon related though so a Martial Apprentice like yourself should be able to pick it up fairly easily.”
“…Awesome.” I hadn’t realized it could be done through a skill, but I supposed it made sense. After all, magic enchantments on weapons were still magic- there wouldn’t necessarily be a reason they could do anything people couldn’t do on their own.