Bellocchio asked Tianna if being an adventurer was her life’s goal, which made her look back to the last few, turbulent months.
She only knocked at the door of the adventurer guild because she needed money, but she met her partners there, and thought of it as the work of destiny.
“…Honestly, I won’t deny I only saw it as a temporary job at first.”
“But now… I like being an adventurer, and I won’t quit until I achieve our party’s goal of becoming A or S rank, or heroes in this city. That is my intention, and I want to be here to see that day.”
Said Tianna as she looked directly at Bellocchio.
Bellocchio respected his disciples decisions. Even if he saw problems with them, he would warn, teach, and guide. Tianna remembered this, so she had no shame in who she was.
She had the bad habit of gambling, and being an adventurer came with difficulties and prejudice. She felt bad over being the cause of her teachers’ downfall, but also knew she could not continue living while looking back and carrying that with her.
But Bellocchio’s answer was harsher than she expected.
“I will be honest. It does not seem to me like you are completely earnest.”
Tianna took offense to this.
“Wha…!? I’m working hard as an adventurer! I won’t say that there isn’t some sense of obligation too but…”
“Then why are you so passive?”
“Would you say you are proactive in your work as an adventurer?”
Tianna nodded in response to Bellocchio’s heavy words.
“…Perhaps it was rude of me, but I took the liberty of looking into your party.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“At first I wanted to make sure you were not being threatened or exploited by a villainous party, and was relieved to learn that was not the case.”
“But you are still too naive. It is not a matter of strength or ability. You lack resolve.”
“What do you mean?”
“You, or rather, Survivors have achieved remarkable things, but all you do is use magic. That is a sad thing to see.”
To a sorcerer, being called a magic user was the same as being called an idiot.
“That’s not true!”
“Then tell me, why do you not study labyrinths and the monsters that occupy them?”
“You are proactive in the sense that you use magic to take down monsters and remove dangers at the eleventh hour, but at your age, this is not enough to call someone a capable sorcerer.
After seeing your behavior in Fishermen, I cannot say you strive to learn anything else. Your leader does all the thinking when it comes to what kind of labyrinths you will be exploring and what to do in them. All you do is follow.
Am I wrong?”
“W-well… My leader is very knowledgeable…”
“Nick, correct? He is the most experienced, but is relying completely on someone’s else’s experiences the proper behavior of a sorcerer?”
To Tianna, it felt like she was punched in the head.
He was right. Nick had the knowledge and the ability to make decisions during explorations, but that was all due to his experience exploring labyrinths.
It was very useful and reliable, but in theory, his experience could not answer why things were the way they were.
Sorcery was not just about cramming knowledge, it was about studying the world and everything in it, and solving its mysteries.
“Labyrinths and monsters are not directly related to sorcery, but it is also rare to find something that is not related at all. Labyrinths are filled with rich magic energy, and monsters use a different kind of magic energy. There is a lot you can discover if you do your own research, so why do you leave it all to your partner?”
He was entirely correct.
Tianna was afraid of her master’s eyes as he criticized her.
Bellocchio was calm, meaning he calmly explained to her why she was completely wrong. This had a bigger effect on her than any sort of yelling.
“What is it?”
“It’s true, I have been complacent. I’ve been focusing only on what’s in front of me and making money. I’ve been thinking it was fine as long as I was making money, and forgot to pay attention to what lies ahead.”
Tianna had an excuse. Her number one goal was to get her life back on track. That was why Nick proposed they formed a party in the first place.
She did not intentionally hold back on giving her opinion when they talked, but it was true that Nick was the one deciding their course of action and how they conquered labyrinths.
However, Tianna now realized that Nick only had experience as a C rank adventurer, and there would be times when his experience would not be applicable, especially since he had no experience with labyrinths higher than C rank.
Tianna made two mistakes.
The first, was that she had gotten lazy, just as Bellocchio said.
The second, was forgetting to doubt her partner’s words, like he told her to do when they met.
Tianna felt embarrassed as she realized this.
“I am ashamed.”
“…But master, can I ask one question?”
“Go ahead, there is no need for reservation.”
“You said being an adventurer is a transient and decadent work, so why are you trying to correct my life as an adventurer?”
Tianna felt deeply ashamed, but noticed something peculiar.
To Bellocchio, it would be convenient if she quit, so why would he scold her for being lazy?
Tianna was feeling regretful as she reflected on her actions, but this brought some calmness back to her mind.
“Yes, being an adventurer is a transient and decadent job. I have no intention of taking that back.
Adventurers earn their daily income by exposing themselves to danger. I will not say there is absolutely no future prospects for adventurers, but they are slim, and it is a very inefficient way to achieve success in life.”
These words felt ironic, but there was no irony in his tone. He looked at Tianna with an earnest expression.
“Then you should have the resolve to survive in that environment. Tianna, you are your party’s sorcerer. Your life is in your partners’ hands, and theirs is in yours. You cannot be satisfied with simply casting magic, surely there is more you can do.”
“Only I can do?”
“You are free to perceive magic in your way. If you have no intention to use the power of freedom, knowledge, and imagination for your partners’ survival, you should quit being an adventurer.”
Bellochio was standing up and speaking passionately, before suddenly noticing this, clearing his throat, and sitting back down.
“…So master, if I can show you my resolve as a sorcerer adventurer, I can continue on as an adventurer?”
“Yes. If you lack resolve, you need to be beaten back into shape, and if you are not up for this job, you need to look for a more adequate path for yourself. I can’t tell what exactly it is yet, so you should show it to me with your sorcery skills.”
Tianna was taken aback.
Did he go out of his way to propose a match because he wanted to express this?
Was he always so over-protective?
Thinking back, Tianna realized that although he bordered on being a misanthrope, he was always well respected by his pupils. He probably cared just as much for the pupils that graduated before her as well. Thinking about this, made Tianna feel even more guilty.
Surely there were people that resented him as well, but with his personality, he was bound to get kicked out of the power structure. Tianna started thinking about what her and other pupils like her could have done.
“…Understood. I will show you the results of my studies during our match.”
All she could do was meet his expectations.