Sgar’s training was hard. It had to be, otherwise I wouldn’t improve… but that didn’t make it less hard. Running around with him- or anything else heavy- strapped to my back was hard, but I wasn’t going to improve quickly if it wasn’t.
My life before I changed worlds hadn’t prepared me for training as an athlete- or as one who could do more than any real athlete could. In reality, I was below a professional athlete in many areas. I couldn’t sprint as fast as the best sprinters, or run a marathon as quickly as the best runners could. That included being supported by a magical world that seemed to make such things easier. On the other hand, even if I wouldn’t win a marathon on Earth, I could finish one. That was pretty good for being unable to walk the year before. Constitution covered long term stamina and pushing myself was really the only way to train that.
I’d already trained Toughness before the minotaur fiasco, but I continued to work on it- even though it was the least pleasant training possible. There was no possible way for it to not involve physical pain.
Training Dexterity had been a bit of a conundrum. Sure, using weapons with precision trained it… but not quickly. Then again, I wasn’t really using the right types of weapons to rely heavily on Dexterity. Everything benefited from finesse, but I wasn’t using swords much- and things like rapiers or daggers not at all. As I thought about how Dexterity could be trained, I considered where I saw Dexterity on Earth. Various sports came to mind- even in contact sports there was finesse involved. Gymnastics demonstrated finesse particularly well, but beyond balance and the general strength to perform whatever activities I required it wasn’t practical for combat. Then again, nothing would be as practical for combat as combat itself. Then I thought of something else involving finesse. Instead of making me think ‘wow, I’m not sure I could ever do that’, it made me think ‘…what even happened?’ That thing was sleight of hand. ‘Magic tricks’, though that wasn’t a good way to say it in a world with actual magic.
Instead of just picking a single thing, I worked on all of them. There wasn’t any real setup for most things in gymnastics, and I didn’t know what I was even supposed to do with uneven parallel bars, but it wasn’t too hard to set up a balance beam- it could just be anything long and not wide. Cartwheels and somersaults didn’t require any equipment, except maybe flat, open ground. As for sleight of hand… coins were easy to get. I didn’t really know how to do any of the tricks, but just trying to do things with the intent of getting better helped. And, of course, I sparred with weapons.
Sgar saw what I was doing, and he made it worse. Well, worse to do, better for training. To be fair, balancing on while in plate mail was more practical, as that is what I would normally be equipped in. It wasn’t even that much harder, since plate mail wasn’t too restrictive on movement when it was well made. That didn’t make it easy, but it did mean I grew faster. Cartwheels and somersaults took some slight adjustments to account for the armor. Sleight of hand with gauntlets on… was pretty much a wash. Even with individual fingers, that sort of movement was too restricted.
As part of my Dexterity training, I learned the basics of rapier and dagger combat. Not at the same time- although that was apparently a valid technique- but rather individually. Martial Trance meshed very well with those weapons as I could more accurately target any vital points. They were useful, but against certain monsters they would be very impractical. Not everything was small enough to inflict lethal wounds on with a dagger without burying my arm in them, and creatures with hard scales would make it very hard to use a rapier. Even so, I made sure to add a dagger to my belt. I was already carrying too many weapons in most cases… what was one more small one?
Push-ups were easy. Push-ups with plate mail were a bit harder. Even so, a simple up and down motion carrying just my weight and maybe some armor? Not too bad. The difficulty came when someone was standing on your back. Fortunately the armor helped them from causing me back troubles… but depending on who it was it could be many times harder.
My arms moved… down-up one, down-up two, down-up three. That day wasn’t too bad. Sgar couldn’t be available every hour of every day to train me. He had things to do, after all. That day, Kantrilla was helping me train. She stood just below my neck, where her weight provided the most force pressing me down.
For her own part, it was balance training. She was trying to grow stronger as well, though not as much in the same ways. She still needed to be able to handle herself in combat, but most of her training was on the magical and healing sides. Even so, the point of everyone needing to be able to take care of themselves had hit home with Kasner’s incident.
Down-up forty-three. Down-up forty-four. Down-up forty-five. Standing up straight was easy. Standing up on something moving straight up and down vertically wasn’t too bad… but when the angle changed it got harder. Adding in that plate armor was not the best standing surface, and Kantrilla fell of plenty of times at first. Not that there was far to the ground, but she was still embarrassed. Even with a decent Dexterity she still managed to be clumsy… but when she put her mind to the training, she managed to continuously improve. It even got to the point where I had to shake things up to make it more useful for her. Down… up! Her weight shifted, but she kept her feet even with the unexpected timing. Even so, I could almost bet she would trip over her own feet on flat grown later, when she wasn’t concentrating.
“Phew. One-hundred.” I breathed out in exertion as I reached the end of my hundred push-ups. Kantrilla stepped down next to me, and I stood up. “I kind of wish there was an end to all this training… but of course as we improve we need to do more…” I shook my head, “Though we’ve made pretty good progress this month.”
Kantrilla nodded, “I agree. Just a bit more and we can start traveling again.” Her face sunk, “I wonder how Kasner’s doing…”
We’d received word from Alhorn and Halette- they would likely still be busy for a few months, but Kasner hadn’t sent any messages through the guild. Maybe he was just serious about retiring, but he hadn’t even sent a note to let us know how he’d settled in to his… old life? I hoped to be able to give him an opportunity to fix his leg, even if he still wanted to retire from adventuring life.