The training academy didn’t have standards for who it would accept for training- we would take everyone. However, we did have to have standards for people who would stay. We weren’t running a free boarding house. Nobody really wanted to fight monsters, but people who were desperate enough to be willing to train to fight monsters worked hard enough to at least pass some basic standards. Even small, scrawny kids could grow stronger. In fact, though many of them seemed to be suffering from malnutrition a month of good food and moderate exercise seemed to actually help… which showed how this world was different from Earth. People could grow so easily… not that a month was enough, but it showed significant change.
I personally believe everyone could grow to be good at something given the chance. Maybe not everything, because there were actual real differences between people that were hard to make up with effort, but at least something. That was why watching Yuri was so hard. He was a young beggar, a street kid but he hadn’t been into pickpocketing or anything… not that he wouldn’t have given the right circumstances… but he couldn’t. A collapsing building had killed his parents and ruined his left arm and leg… which had been amputated. He could just barely move around with a crutch and had survived based on the pity of others… though only just barely.
I sighed as I watched him, “I don’t know what to do with this kid…” I looked to Kantrilla.
She shook her head, “I don’t know either… I want to use regenerate but… that wouldn’t be fair to others. Especially not given his performance.”
That was the issue. Everything had to be judged, at some point, on actual performance. Effort itself wasn’t something that could be measured or fairly judged. Yuri… well, he obviously performed badly on physical tests. “It wouldn’t be so bad if he was willing to accept the risk of adventuring like he is… if he didn’t insist on being a warrior.” I folded my arms in front of me. His results on magical training were below average, not because he couldn’t do it but because he didn’t really practice magic. Trainees were allowed to set their own schedule to some extent, and Yuri did the minimum amount of training for things not related to physical combat. He couldn’t do archery at all and while he clearly put in the effort for melee combat the results just weren’t there.
Armor easily unbalanced him and while his balance without a crutch was decent all weapon stances required two legs for proper balance. Rapiers or other fencing weapons could be used with one hand, but the two legs was important. Yuri wanted to use a large weapon which was just impossible. At his current level, we couldn’t even safely bring him hunting horned rabbits. It had only been a month… but if he couldn’t do something next month we would probably have to dismiss him from the academy. Sure, we could bend our own rules a bit but flat out ignoring them wouldn’t look good. Especially since it looked like we might have to actually dismiss a couple others for different reasons.
I watched Yuri in the training courtyard late at night. He was hitting a dummy with a practice weapon. He was good enough at that, but if he had to reposition himself and swing at the same time, he had an even chance of falling over or the swing going wide or losing all its power. Being able to respond to what your opponent did in combat was important, and if we actually kept him around… we’d just be sending him to be a burden on his future adventuring party or die. He knew that too… but he kept training even with all of the frustration of not being able to do much. As he fell over one more time he got angry and hit the wooden training sword on the ground, breaking it. That was technically a rules infraction- misuse of training materials and all that- but I didn’t fault him for getting angry at feeling useless. I just didn’t know how to help.
“How about trying to become a beast tamer?” I asked Yuri. A good beast like Socks was as valuable as another party member, and anyone who could successfully raise one didn’t need to have much other utility in a party. Halette could also scout, but just her bringing Socks along was enough to meet minimum requirements for a spot in a party.
Yuri shook his head, “Don’t like animals.”
Yuri grunted. We’d already tried to convince him to try magic… it made sense to me, because he wouldn’t have to move quite as much in the back… and he could use a staff to support himself. However, he didn’t even bother learning anything more than the light spell. He at least understood why that was important to know. According to his self reporting of attributes, his mental attributes only ended up average anyway. Luck was a bit below average. His Strength and Dexterity had actually grown quite a bit in the month of training but that would slow down quickly. “I’m gonna be a warrior.”
“Why do you want to be a warrior?” I asked. I wasn’t going to tell him he couldn’t be one, because we both knew that and it wouldn’t help to say it. “Did you see a powerful warrior who inspired you?”
Yuri stopped swinging at the dummy in front of him and moved to sit on the bench next to me. He nodded as he began the story, “After I became… like this… I had a lot of trouble. Any time I got money, others would take it from me. If I had food, even dogs would steal it from me. One time, I found a tossed out loaf of bread. I was eating it in a back alley when the biggest dog I’d ever seen came for me. It was probably skin and bones, but I was so small then…” He shook his head, “Just as it pounced at me, something came from down the alley and broke the ground, knocking it back. I saw a man there. The dog charged at him, but he didn’t even move. He just flicked out the butt of his spear and knocked the dog flying. It kept coming for him but he wasn’t even scared one bit.”
“A spear, huh?”
Yuri nodded. He was just entering his teenage years, which meant he was still smaller than me, especially because of the lack of proper nutrition. “You use a spear too, right?”
“Well, I sort of use everything. So, you said the ground exploded? Wasn’t that magic?” I wanted to try to steer him towards something useful. If he could do offensive magic then he could kill a horned rabbit and would at least have a longer chance to grow.
Yuri shook his head. “No. You might not believe me, but it was just a rock. It broke all the way through the cobblestones, cracking a few of them in half. About this big.” He touched his thumb and forefinger together to make a circle. “Err… or maybe smaller. Somehow the little rock wasn’t damaged.”
“Hmm…” I looked around the courtyard. It was supposed to be swept free of debris, but it kept popping up from broken pieces tiles or anything else. I picked up a pebble, “About this size?”
“More or less…” Yuri shrugged, “It’s not really important how big it was.”
I tossed it up in the air a few times to get a feel for its weight. It wasn’t that dense, which also probably meant it wasn’t very hard. Certainly, not harder than the tiles in the courtyard. It was another late night where formal training was done. I’d come to train myself so I could pretend to have run into Yuri by coincidence instead of looking like I was waiting for him or had shown up to look for him. That meant no one else was in the courtyard.
I took one last look at the rock. “Eh, this should do.” Piercing Throw worked with any sort of weapon… or really anything I could hold. I’d learned the generalized version with a ball, after all. I gathered up mana and formed it around the pebble, then threw it down at a far angle towards the tiles. The air rippled around it as it travelled and impacted among the tiles, cracking through one and disappearing into the dirt underneath somewhere. “Something like that?” I looked towards Yuri. While throwing still needed a proper stance… it was more able to be accomplished while not having to avoid attacks at the same moment. Maybe that was something Yuri could do. At least there was a chance…