I knew I wasn’t really an expert at fighting, but a quick lesson from Sgar taught me much more than I thought it could. He didn’t really criticize my baseball-swing stance, but pointed out that it was only useful if I stepped to the side and turned my body, swinging to where I just was. That is, it would mostly be useful against horned rabbits. He taught me some other proper swinging forms that would be more generally useful, facing off against opponents in front of me. He corrected some mistakes in my grip, and showed me vertical and horizontal swings. They weren’t anything startlingly new, but they were better. There was also a lot more footwork involved than I would have thought. I hadn’t done much thinking about footwork in recent years… or any physical activity, really. Watching movies didn’t really count. Sgar pointed out that many of the forms would work for other weapons as well, though of course the grip on a sword would be somewhat different. Even though my club was round, I still had to swing it as if it had an edge, based on how my hands held it. Otherwise, I lost power.
After a training session that left me sweating buckets, Sgar struck up a conversation. “So, are you level 5 now? It’s good to get a class, as it increases your fighting ability. Not that you should rush into it, because it’s a difficult process to change.”
“Ah… I just recently got to level 3, actually.” I’d heard about classes, but mostly seen it referenced in my stat window. I’d forgotten to ask about them. In fact, I’d forgotten to ask about skills, too. I inwardly apologized to the person who wrote the message. I forgot their helpful advice.
“Oh uh… level 3 huh?” Sgar scratched the back of his head, “It’ll still take a while of killing horned rabbits, but I would still recommend that. Wolves are much more dangerous, both on an individual level and because they hunt in packs. I’d find other party members before you try that, though… there’s not much of anyone around here at your level.”
“Ah… no wonder I didn’t see anyone else hunting any horned rabbits…” I had wondered why that was. Now, there was another question. Why was there nobody at my level? “Oh, can you tell me about skills?”
“You want me to teach you some Barbarian skills? I can do that, though only a few of them are easy to learn without a class…”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind learning some skills, but I just… don’t know much about them.”
Sgar just stared blankly at me. “Oh. Um, sure. Do you know about passive and active skills?”
“I know the general idea. I have some passive skills, like club mastery, but no active skills, so I don’t really know how they work..”
Sgar nodded, “Well, you aren’t likely to stumble into learning an active skill on accident.” Sgar grinned sheepishly, “Well, maybe some Barbarian skills, like Bash. Anyway, active skills take effort, unlike passive skills. Of course, to get any real use out of your club mastery, you still have to swing your club, which uses stamina, but it’s different. Active skills take mana, which is something different. If you want to know more about mana, ask a wizard, I guess. It’s just a special source of energy in you. It might be easiest if I show you.”
Sgar took one of the training weapons from the area we were in. It was basically just a stick. I suppose the same could be said of my club, but mine was at least more intentionally crafted to be a weapon. “Now, watch closely Llyr. This is a strike with part of my strength.” He swung, and there was a satisfying *thwack* sound as he hit a training dummy. “Now, here’s the same thing, but with the Bash skill.” If I were to describe what he did, it was exactly the same. The same motion, the same trajectory, but there was something about it. Though the strength and speed of the strike appeared the same, it arrived at the target earlier… *Krrrunch* was the sound, as the training dummy snapped, and so did the training weapon. “Well, something like that.” Sgar sighed, “Why do we even have training dummies this useless? I bet they’ll make me pay for it anyway…”
“Hmm, I see the usefulness of it, but I can’t really grasp how to do it.”
“Of course not. I wouldn’t expect you to do it with seeing it just once. Even Barbarian skills aren’t that simple.” Sgar grumbled something under his breath. “Anyway, why don’t you try? You’re feeling for a sort of internal energy, and then you just hit really hard. There’s not much more to Bash. Give it a few swings and I’ll demonstrate again. Umm, better not swing at the dummies, because if you succeed it might actually be a problem. You can’t afford to hold back when using Bash, and you’re pretty strong for your size. The effects of Bash aren’t that much at first, but still.”
I nodded. I didn’t appreciate the part where he said ‘for my size’ but there wasn’t much that could be done about that. I tried to focus on bash. Inner energy… mana… I had the thought that mana was an external energy thing, but on the other hand, what did I know about how it worked in a real fantasy world. I thought perhaps the name was an approximation for language I understood. Later, I would come to learn that mana was also external, but only magic user types used that in any significant way. They had to be trained to gather it and combine it with their own internal mana to achieve greater effects. It required significant investments into mental attributes for it to not be a very slow process, so it wasn’t much good for warrior types.
I had no idea how to use mana, so I concentrated as hard as I could. Energy… energy… energy. I swung my club as hard as I could. *Swoosh*. That was the sound it made as it went through the air. It was normal. Not that I really expected to succeed on the first try. *Swoosh* *Swoosh* *Swoosh*…