The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength Chapter 257

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If I’d known more about it, I would have learned reinforcement magic earlier. While it wasn’t necessarily important for most people, it mattered to me. I wouldn’t have just been ahead in training, but there were other relevant factors. Like, how reinforcement magic could leave things permanently more durable. That said, it wasn’t much. Compared to active reinforcement, even months or years of use might only be ten percent of that effect when considering how durable something was. A proper permanent enchantment would be much better, but that took difficult to learn skills and money. 

What was the use of it then? The lingering effect wouldn’t be additive with actual active reinforcement… but it was relevant because I wouldn’t always be able to afford to reinforce my equipment in battle. I had other things to spend mana on, after all. If I could make something slightly stronger by spending mana outside of times I needed it, that was a good thing. It would also be good practice for if I did use it in battle.

As for why it mattered… most of my weapons couldn’t keep up with my level and Strength. There were plenty of materials available for reasonable prices that were strong, but strong enough to withstand normal use and strong enough to withstand more than twice the limit of normal human potential were different. Sure, there were enchanted weapons and adamantine… and I had a magical mace and an adamantine throwing dagger. Wanting a variety of weapons made things more difficult, and that was especially true if I had to replace multiple weapons as I continued to grow stronger. Besides, investing in myself wasn’t a bad idea, and I might find myself without weapons again somehow.

I couldn’t always count on getting dropped into a dungeon with no equipment instead of being killed, but I also couldn’t necessarily bring everything I wanted with me everywhere. There could be dungeons where we couldn’t bring Carlos, or got separated from him where I might have to fight using something from the monsters around. Plus, the durability also worked on armor… or on bare skin, but not nearly as well as on stronger materials.

Everyone else was working on improving themselves as well. While I thought overall our party did quite well, I was more aware of my own weaknesses. Alhorn continued to practice his light magic for blinding enemies… taking consideration to account for strange eye placement and focusing the light such that it wasn’t omnidirectional- and blinding our own party. That was hard… which made sense. It was like the difference between a lightbulb and a laser, a huge difference in power output and complexity. And while it sounded great, even if he could do something like lasers they wouldn’t be useful as damaging weapons. Unless we were trying to kill very thin enemies, anyway.

However, once I had the thought about lasers, I couldn’t leave it alone. “From what I remember, it sort of bounces around in a contained area and can only leave if it’s all going in one direction.” I scratched the back of my head, “I’m sorry I can’t give a better explanation… but it can be done!”

Alhorn nodded. “I think I understand the idea, at least.” He had already made significant progress in aligning the light to go one direction, more or less. He could blind an enemy quickly, but it wouldn’t necessarily last long. It was still only slightly stronger than a flash of light, and enemies with more Toughness might be less affected, only troubled for a short time. A real laser with enough intensity could blind an enemy for a whole fight… or permanently, in theory. Not that there was a practical difference in duration between those two, usually.

What else did I know? Light was like particles but also like waves. That wasn’t something I could explain easily- since I didn’t really understand it- though I tried my best. “Oh, and lasers all end up being just one color, one wavelength. Because of how it’s focused.”

“Were you an expert studying light on Earth?”

“Nah.” I shook my head. “This is more or less commonly available knowledge. If I were an expert I’d know more helpful details. Actually, most knowledge could be found easily, for the past couple of decades. Before that it was still somewhat more open than here…”

As Alhorn practiced his light magic, I tried to do the same. If I could make a laser, he could definitely replicate it. Even before he’d advanced his class he’d been better than me at light magic, either a natural affinity or his class. I had some luck with making light different colors, but it certainly wasn’t a laser. I eventually left Alhorn to his own training.

The most vigorously practicing member of our party was Socks. However, if I had to say it… her progress was the least. That was because what she wanted was basically impossible. She wanted to climb. Socks felt the worst of all of us as not being able to properly participate in the battle with the dragon, and while Halette had been in a position to support us against any incoming extra enemies, Socks had just been on the ground.

It wasn’t like Socks couldn’t get up on things. She was tall, and could jump… but if she couldn’t get all the way to the top of something in one leap, she basically couldn’t get up at all. Slopes were one thing, but nearly vertical climbs were difficult. She did learn how to scramble up some trees, with difficulty and some sacrificed trees that weren’t sturdy enough. In the end, instead of climbing she made the most progress in jumping higher. I had always been impressed by the ability of dogs to jump. Socks wasn’t any different in that way, though I imagined she was somewhat restricted by her size. Her Strength helped, but her size made her heavier and thus she could only get fifteen or twenty feet off the ground. For most cases that was more than enough… but if it hadn’t been for the sake of behaving in town, she probably would have tried jumping up onto the tops of all the buildings around. Though once Halette saw she wanted to try it, she explained to Socks that they probably couldn’t hold her weight. Socks understood that, at least, even if she didn’t like it.

Kantrilla was the first to participate in a form of training I hadn’t actually been intending to be a real thing. However, upon recovering she had been adamant that she wanted to be able to resist being flung backwards by a dragon… or at least something big and strong. While I wasn’t big, I was strong. I could provide enough force to hurl people in various ways, and we tried all of them… starting slowly. For a large impact, I started by shoving with my shield. That way the force would be distributed across her, instead of compacted like the head of a warhammer or mace. It was of course best to avoid such situations, but if that wasn’t possible… reacting was the next best thing.

Even after Kantrilla worked on her stability, she couldn’t stop me from shoving her backwards… but at least she could avoid being toppled backwards. The difference was, no matter how good her balance she just couldn’t put up enough force to stop me, and more importantly she would break something if she didn’t let herself be knocked back. I was a lot heavier than I looked, so I could provide enough momentum to force back nearly anyone of humanish size. Alhorn was tough enough that he could take my attacks with less deflection of energy, but his 600 and growing Toughness was still much short of my Strength. 

In turn, when Alhorn was on the offensive I realized how much I needed to build up my own durability in that way. While I was supported in my body not falling apart when using Strength to resist something, and my Toughness wasn’t bad… I still needed more to be truly safe in taking an attack head on. Not that I planned to, but maybe there would be some reason I couldn’t dodge. Training Toughness was still the worst out of all the attributes, but it had to be done.

In addition to shoving people, people wanted to practice falling correctly… and while they could jump from something, flinging them through the air was also a good way. Of course, we made sure there was plenty of hay or other padding where they might fall- at least at first. I also made sure not to toss people in such a way that they would land on their neck… at least without Kantrilla on standby. As long as someone didn’t instantly die she could probably save them… but there was still a very large incentive for people not to get hurt.

Kasner, of course, was the easiest to fling… but he actually took to righting himself in the air the most easily. Just a touch of wind magic and he stopped his rotation, and if the height was sufficient he formed a pool of water- held in ice- to catch himself. He even had a method to make the water ‘softer’ as he fell into it, because otherwise enough velocity would still hurt.

If I was the one being flung through the air… Socks was the one who did it. She had the advantage that she could hold me off the ground to begin with, her teeth latched firmly around my arm without biting into it. I can’t say I thought it was fun at first… but once I got the hang of it it wasn’t bad. 

Was our training becoming crazy and weird? Probably. Maybe we wouldn’t need to know how to do any of this… but maybe we would. Even just properly knowing how to fall could be a big deal if we stepped into a pit trap… though Halette had saved us from actually meeting that fate for the most part. Still, if dungeons kept behaving weirdly, it was hard to say what we might need to know how to do.

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