While moving in the direction Leon had chosen, members of Absolute Helix and Golden Tune had some downtime to mingle with one another. As they chatted, it was apparent that Diniel, perhaps due to being a former member of Golden Tune, was disliked by Eunice, but the rest of Absolute Helix got along just fine with Barbara and the two others.
Hannah and Daryl talked mainly with the Tanks, while Amira chatted with the fellow greatsword-wielding Attacker and Leon, keeping her usual casual tone. Leon, seeing that Amira was not at all nervous despite him being somewhat of a celebrity, was quite amused by the conversation that took place.
“…What are you looking at?”
To Tsutomu’s side, Eunice’s ears wagged as if to spell out her curiosity. She turned to scowl at Tsutomu upon noticing that he had been looking at her. In turn, Tsutomu snickered at her upon observing that her attitude had not changed one bit.
“Looks like you’ve been working hard.”
“…Hmph, of course. We’re already at layer sixty-nine, you know. What about you? Looks like you’re not in a hurry at all.”
“How about you beat layer seventy before bragging, Miss Number Not-Top-Three?”
It was apparent that Eunice had been closely following the Dungeon Maniacs’ Healer rankings articles, what with her immediately being riled up by Tsutomu’s sarcasm. A groan leaked out of her nose.
“Hmph! What are those articles even good for, anyway!? They call themselves ‘maniacs,’ but they’re just a bunch of ignorant hobbyists! You’d have to be an idiot to listen to them!”
“Really? I think their assessments are pretty fair, and they’re some of the most open-minded people around here, too.”
“Say what you want. Unlike you, I don’t care what they think. They don’t matter to me at all.”
Tsutomu turned to look at Leon instead, paying no mind to Eunice as she directed her attention elsewhere. After a little more walking, during which none of them made any eye contact, a few monsters appeared just as Leon had predicted.
The monsters the two parties encountered this time were Hell Scorpions.
“All right, we’ll go first,” Leon said.
“Got it,” Tsutomu replied and told his Clan members to be on standby. For this encounter, they were to simply observe.
Golden Tune’s general party structure was the same as that of Absolute Helix’s, and their Attackers were high-leveled. Watching them in action would serve as a good reference, especially for Amira.
Eunice waved her White Staff, casting support spells for her four teammates. Barbara and the Paladin pulled all of the Hell Scorpions’ aggro to them. Leon proceeded to rush ahead at blinding speed and stab one of the Scorpions with his long sword, and the Greatsword Fighter, clad in a blue power aura, approached the rest of the monsters.
As one would expect, Leon was the strongest fighter among them by a long shot, thanks to his unique skill <<Gold Bless>>. In fact, in and out of his Clan, he definitely was one of the best Attackers around.
The Greatsword Fighter was level seventy, and her skill rotation was refined. Due to not having trained extensively in the other Dungeons before, her swordplay was behind Camille, but she made up for it with superior tactics suited for God’s Dungeon specifically. Amira was at first uninterested due to having no reference point other than her mother, but then she started observing the Greatsword Fighter’s moves more and more closely.
Daryl kept an eye on Barbara, whose Job was the same as his. In terms of overall skill, Daryl was the stronger one, but that did not mean there was nothing he could learn from her. Hannah was shivering, in awe of Leon’s absurdly fast maneuvers, while Diniel simply yawned through the fight, holding no particular interest in anyone or anything.
Eunice’s performance, from Tsutomu’s point of view, could be described as ‘perfectly fine’ for a White Mage — not bad but not particularly good either. Comparing her to Stephanie and Lorena, however, it was clear that she was rough around the edges. Her basic support and healing effectiveness were not as good as Stephanie’s. She did not have any effective personal spins on the formula like Lorena’s improved aggro management and teamwork, either.
[Well, she IS doing well, though.]
Tsutomu was not looking down on Eunice, however. Both Stephanie and Lorena had been in this scene for a long time, while Eunice had only started exploring God’s Dungeon four years ago. It was natural that there would be a difference in their skill levels. Although her personality was not doing her any favors when it came to Tsutomu’s evaluation of her, he did consider her to meet a certain standard of Healers. The people she was comparing herself to were just too good.
As for the two Tanks, Barbara had gotten much better, and the Paladin, who had assisted Garm against a Black Dragon during the Stampede, was also showing improvement. Their movements still needed work, however, as they were not quite as refined as Daryl.
After sufficiently observing Golden Tune’s other members, Tsutomu turned to look if Eunice was properly managing aggro and buff durations. By the time that was done, the Hell Scorpions were defeated, and Leon proceeded to collect the dropped Magic Stones with blinding speed.
“That was great. Now it’s our turn, yes?”
“Yup. Looking forward to seeing what y’all got! Well, here I go again.”
And so Leon zoomed away like a gust of wind on another scouting round. In the meantime, the two Clans’ members proceeded to chat with one another again. Amira was particularly passionate in questioning the Greatsword Fighter, causing the latter to be somewhat taken aback.
“Do you not have anything to say to me, Tsutomu?”
Eunice strutted over to Tsutomu and looked up at him. She seemed confident in her performance during the battle just now. Tsutomu looked down at Eunice as she proceeded to narrow her eyes and proudly puff up her chest.
“You did all right, I guess.”
“…What? That’s it?”
“…But you taught Lorena and Stephanie a lot of stuff. It’s not fair…” Eunice said, sounding grumpy as she turned away.
That comment left Tsutomu quite annoyed.
“…Listen, try putting yourself in my shoes for a minute. Lorena is a member of Silver Beast, a Clan that has helped me out when I was struggling with… things. And Stephanie asked me to teach her, so I did. Then there’s you, adding yourself onto my workload — why would I want to teach you?”
“Yes, I understand. It’s because Stephanie flirts with you, but I don’t. Now try putting yourself in MY shoes — you know that I’m never going to do that, right?”
“Uh, there’s no flirting involved — you just have to ASK. Which is something you don’t really do, apparently?”
“Hmph, don’t misunderstand. If I REALLY wanted to get stronger, I would ask and beg and even roll around on the ground. But Leon would be disappointed in me if I do that, so I won’t.”
Seeing that Tsutomu apparently did not understand her reasoning at all, Eunice shook her head and cracked a mischievous grin.
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand, since a troll like you is never gonna get a girlfriend or boyfriend anyway — but doing that would be cheating! You do know what cheating means, right?”
“…Wait, you think asking people to teach you things is like cheating on your partner?”
“Hmph, it’s too late to try and explain yourself now, Tsutomu. I know you’ve been doing weird stuff with Stephanie. I’m not about to sink to her level, you know?”
“Now you’re just getting all the wrong ideas. Nothing is going on between me and her at all.”
“No way! You should listen to how she talks — she praises you like crazy every chance she gets! It’s like she’s a fanatic or something! I know you’re trying to make me do something like that, too!”
Eunice pointed at Tsutomu as if she was a superhero calling out a villain, causing the latter to drop his shoulders, tired of dealing with her. Her assumptions did not come out of thin air, however, since she had indeed listened to Stephanie singing excessive praises of Tsutomu during the post-Stampede celebration.
“You know, if you wanted guidance, you could just… ask, like a sane person.”
“My heart belongs only to Leon, and I won’t give up until he’s mine alone! We’re gonna go back to the countryside and have a lot of kids…”
And so, Eunice was stuck in a fairytale-like delusion. Tsutomu looked around trying to find help, but the other Golden Tune members only shook their heads. It seemed that Eunice would not be back for a while.
“I’m back, y’all– huh, what’s happenin’?”
“Ah, Leon. So, here’s the thing…”
Tsutomu explained the situation to Leon, who had returned from his scouting round at just the right time. Leon then looked up at the cave’s ceiling and scratched his hair.
“Gotcha. I’ll try and talk her out of it.”
After that was out of the way, Tsutomu’s party proceeded to explore the area that Leon had pointed out. They almost immediately encountered some monsters, which they fought with relative ease.
Daryl was holding up quite well as a Tank and was now as strong as Garm and Bittman. He still lacked the confidence to think and act on his own, however, but Tsutomu’s instructions cancelled that out for him.
Hannah’s performance as an evasion-based Tank was getting better as well, thanks to her getting used to the Volcano layers’ environment. The ability to fine-tune her aerial maneuvers using her wings, which had already been an advantage during her Attacker days, also served to help her attack-and-evade Tanking style. It could even be said that this was her true calling all along.
Amira had been doing extremely well since the first Bolseyer battle. As for Diniel, she had always been a nigh-perfect Attacker, so there was no particular thing to point out. She did have a problem when it came to motivation, what with her tendency to not participate in exploration and training sessions unless convinced, but at least she had been carrying out her necessary duties without fail so far.
Soon enough, the monsters were wiped out. As Tsutomu collected the dropped Magic Stones, Barbara excitedly ran up to Daryl and talked to him.
“That was awesome! You’re as strong as the rumours say, Daryl!”
“It’s thanks to Sir Garm and Sir Tsutomu’s training! I still have a long way to go, though.”
“You think? You seem to already be as strong as Garm, from what I saw.”
“Oh, no! I’m not quite there yet!”
Daryl denied all the compliments, waving his hands and his black-furred tail. Seeing that, Barbara decided not to say anything more, though it was apparent that she disagreed.
[Sure would be nice if he was more confident…] Tsutomu thought to himself. Just as he was done collecting the Magic Stones, Leon approached him, wolf ears folded down.
“Hey, Tsutomu. I had a talk with Eunice — she shouldn’t have any wrong ideas now.”
“All right. Thank you.”
“Still, it’s hard to believe that there’s nothing between you and the Ealdred Crow girl, you know?”
“Uh… yes, there really is nothing between us. All I did was teach her how to be a Healer.”
“Could’ve convinced me otherwise — because, man, she’s been talking you up. Whenever I mentioned your name in a conversation, her eyes practically lit up.”
Seeing Leon so surprised, Tsutomu tilted his head, not quite understanding why. Leon then brought up another topic, his eyes sparkling as he proceeded to ask Tsutomu,
“Oh, by the way! Do you think I can pull off the same fighting style as that Hannah girl?”
“Should be difficult for you, actually — since you’re a Swordfighter, which doesn’t have any group aggro-pulling skills. Maybe it’ll work out if you try very hard and put your own spin on it, though. Your unique skill would help, too.”
“Hmm, I see…” Leon held his chin and pondered things over, then said to Tsutomu, “Thanks, man!”
As Tsutomu imagined what an evasion-based Tank Leon would look like, he felt a tug on his robe.
“What is it?”
Turning around, he saw Eunice, quite apparently having something on her mind. Eunice looked up at him, as if she was resolved to reply to his question,
“So, Tsutomu… would you actually teach me if I ask you what I want to know?”
“If you beg and roll around on the ground.”
“Just kidding. Well, what’d you like to ask?”
Feeling that she was being poked fun at, Eunice heaved a sigh and put on a serious face.
“I’d like you to… be our party’s Healer for a bit.”
Silavin: I got fooled by the title D: