The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 184

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We got a few more people the third week, including some laborers of various sorts. Having briefly worked as one shuffling around boxes in a warehouse… I could see how it might not be a much desired career.

“You’re the one in charge of melee combat and Strength training?” A big, burly man who was at least six feet tall looked down on me and asked. It was actually strange to see him being so bulky, because his pointed ears spoke of traces of elven blood. I didn’t mind him looking down on me- everyone looked down on me, that was just how things worked. However, he also looked doubtful of my competence.

“That’s right,” I extended my arm for a handshake, “I’m Llyr Merrick.” He took my hand to shake it, then squeezed. If he didn’t want to test me, I wasn’t going to make things hard for him… but since he chose to, I figured I might as well convince everyone all at once. I squeezed his hand back… not hard enough to break anything, but hard enough he couldn’t pull his hand away. That wouldn’t convince anyone of anything, but I had more to demonstrate. My left hand came up under his armpit, my right going down by my side. It wasn’t to pull on his arm, but just what was necessary based on how long his arm was. I pushed up on his armpit, lifting him off the ground. I had to extend my arm all the way to get him more than a couple inches up, but everyone could see his feet leave the ground and stay off. Then I set him down gently. “So, what’s your name?”

He grimaced briefly and cleared his throat. “Uh, it’s… it’s Truls, sir.”

“Good to meet you, Truls.” I nodded to him, then to the rest of the new trainees. “As I said, I’m Llyr Merrick, but you can call me Instructor Merrick… or Instructor Llyr. When you’re done with me, you won’t have just two hundred and fifty or three hundred Strength… and it will be nicely balanced throughout your body.” I patted my chest, my metal breastplate ringing out. “If you want to put your Strength to good use, you need to be able to go around in armor all day and still fight. It takes a different kind of Strength than you’re used to, and of course plenty of Endurance.” I gestured towards a box full of lead plates with straps- which would be simulating breastplates. “Everyone put those on.” Those who had been with me for the previous weeks groaned, but put them on. The new laborers actually found themselves slightly surprised as they picked them up. “We have some lighter ones as well… but you all want to be as strong as you can be, right? There’s no shame in starting small, but if you’re already strong…”

The following exercises had everyone groaning and complaining, but nobody could really say anything was unfair. I did all of the exercises myself in at least as many repetitions as the trainees, and I was wearing real armor- it distributed the weight better over me, but it was also heavier overall. It was also hot. Maybe I could convince Kasner to teach these guys some ice magic so I could cool myself down and it wouldn’t be unfair. However, I wasn’t sure if that was actually practical for dungeon delving. Maybe I’d look into it later.

—–

“Today, we’re going to be hunting rabbits.” I had about ten people with me- the entire academy was about half full, if we were to consider 100 students full. “Easy, right?” I grinned, “Of course, all of you know these aren’t just regular rabbits, but horned rabbits.” I held up a horn from one as a demonstration, “They basically have a dagger on their head. If you stand around and let them, you can get impaled… and that’s not fun for anyone. That’s why we have gambesons for all of you, and why you have to wear them even though its swelteringly hot. Because I don’t want to have to fix any holes in your chest. Of course, you have to watch your legs as well. Remember, even though these might be the weakest enemies, each sort of monster has their own traits you have to deal with. Low attacks are one of them. Now then, just over there is one right now. I’ll fight that one so you can see what range they usually attack at. Then we’ll have each of you try at least one.”

Horned rabbits were easy to kill. I had the timing down by heart, and even though I hadn’t fought many lately my reflexes had been honed significantly since I was fighting them. It only took a single swing with a big wooden truncheon, and then there was an unpleasant crunching and squishing sound. That was another reason to fight horned rabbits… their deaths weren’t exactly pretty, and adventurers had to be able to deal with that. 

—–

We had received special permission to go to the dungeon from the guild. Most of the trainees weren’t registered as adventurers- though a few had done so a long time before and found they couldn’t handle it on their own. However, when a chance to really learn came up they went for it. I couldn’t say they were overall better or worse than the others.

There was no way our party was going to bring about fifty people into the dungeon for exploration, but that wasn’t what we were doing. Instead, we just went down the stairs. “As you can see,” I waved my arm, “You can’t. Dungeons absorb all light. If I walk over here…” I walked out of the direct light coming down the stairs, “I suddenly disappear. There’s not even diffuse light like a cave or a dark room.” I took half a step back so they could see approximately one arm sort of just appearing from the darkness. “That’s why we’ve been drilling you all on the light spell. Now then, we’ll have a handful of you come down here at a time and demonstrate what you can do. Alhorn will be keeping notes on your progress.”

It was clear many people had not been practicing light magic at all. A few potential mages had, but most who were planning to be warriors or scouts hadn’t. Some of them couldn’t even make any light at all.

I nodded. “Now, you might think it’s unnecessary to know this magic. After all, can’t you just bring a torch?” Halette handed me a torch she had prepared and I lit it with a spark. “Come a little closer. Mmm, isn’t that a lovely smokey scent? No? It’s awful and oily and likely to attract monsters… and also takes up a hand you could be using for something else?” I tossed the torch in a corner, than made some light myself. “The thing is, even if you have someone who can do light magic, you might get separated. Maybe you can have a torch for emergencies, but fire is not the best thing to have in enclosed areas. It burns up the air you use to breathe. It doesn’t need to be much, but being able to see your hands in front of your face and the light reflected off of a goblin in front of you can make all the difference. In addition, training magic helps improve your Focus and total mana capacity so that you can use more skills of any kind. For those who want to specialize in magic, you can do more than just a little light…” 

I gestured to Alhorn, who filled the passageways with light. Nobody had even realized the tunnel split off in three directions just behind me, but Alhorn’s light glowed out from all the corners and revealed where the dungeon walls began and ended. Everyone was suitably impressed… and hopefully they realized why having someone who could do light magic was important. It was one thing to have it explained… but another thing entirely to see a dungeon. Then we left, because fighting in a dungeon was a lesson for another time. Perhaps next month… as long as we could convince Timmy to have another month. For that, we’d need to have people actually do work of some sort. Everyone could at least fight horned rabbits, and we could get enough clubs and gambesons for everyone… since they were cheap. It actually took a little bit of my own money to do so, but at least I was still getting paid by Sage Norwood some. Soon enough we would probably need to find out if my level would go down yet another time.

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