While experiencing the now familiar feeling of falling down, the three landed onto the ground, their hands linked together. This was the first of several times that they would have to experience this. Tsutomu immediately faceplanted on the ground.
Around them were the guildhall and lime-colored grass that spread out as far as their eye could see. Somehow, this seemed like a nice place to land in, although Tsutomu could sight the occasional monster here and there.
“Alright then, Amy-san. Search for enemies, please.”
Amy rushed out of the meadow like the wind, and soon, Tsutomu could no longer see her. Meanwhile, Tsutomu took out a white cane from his bag. Seeing the color of his equipment, one could tell that Tsutomu was a white mage. He then started doing solitary image training.
(TipToe: image training – playing the actions in your mind to get better at actually doing them.)
After that, as Garm prepared to move out, Amy came back with ragged breaths.
“There aren’t any adventurers~ There aren’t any big monsters either~ Let’s go!”
“Roger. Well then, let’s start with those goblins over there.”
Amy, who had just raised her hand and reported, and Garm, who had just finished preparations for moving, were still unarmed and in guild uniform. They might have been there to ensure that death would be a one in ten thousand chance, but mostly they were just there to deter other parties.
All guild staff members, aside from clerks, are eligible for an exam after they clear the 40th level of the dungeon. After that, if they score high on both a difficult written exam and a practical skill-testing exam, they will be interviewed by the guild chief, and if seen as non-threats, they can become recognized as official members of the guild staff.
Parties who would go after others guarded by two people in guild uniforms were almost nonexistent. There were the occasional people who thought that they were easy pickings due to being unarmed, but they immediately fled after Tsutomu brought out their weapons from his magic bag.
“Well then, those three things are our objective. I’ll cast Protect.”
As Tsutomu raised his white cane, the white gems in the front-lit up, and everyone was then covered in an ochre color. This was a support skill that hardens the skin of the people the spell was cast on, scaling with the caster’s MND. “Thank you~,” Amy said as she took off into a run, with Tsutomu and Garm following shortly after.
As one of the goblins noticed Amy, she kicked it in the jaw agilely. Garm threw his fist at another goblin that was headed towards him. Tsutomu kept his cane on the ground, as he looked towards the last goblin.
Amy wasn’t injured in any way, but Tsutomu healed her for good measure and for practice. As he waved his cane, a green fist-sized projectile came out, and it managed to hit her in the back as she was still moving.
For the time being, he continued to hit the still-moving Amy, much like a game of target practice. As soon as Amy got bored, Garm stomped on the goblin’s neck with his feet.
When the goblins died, they became green particles and disappeared without a trace of blood, leaving behind only a few small transparent magic gemstones. Amy brought back a few small pieces of the scrap.
“Tsutomu, your aim is getting better, huh? When you started out, you healed the goblins!”
“There have been fewer mistakes recently, too. Please take that into account.”
“The face that Garm was making at that time was really funny too, it was like a dog itching to bite something!”
As Amy laughed hysterically and threw Tsutomu the stones, he laughed nervously and placed them into the bag. Garm stepped to the side upon remembering that facial expression.
Garm guided Tsutomu through the dungeon the first time he went in. When he hit the goblin instead of Amy with a heal, the goblin, which was previously weakened, became well. In the game you couldn’t heal enemies, so this came as a surprise.
After that battle, Garm told him that he should only heal them whenever they regrouped, so Tsutomu continued to think that this was totally different from the game.
And so, from the next day onwards, Tsutomu did exactly that. He would just look on from behind Amy and the goblins. He would heal them after the battle was over, and Garm would praise him.
After mundanely repeating this for half a day, Tsutomu returned to the guild and confirmed that his skill level had risen by 5. He also noticed on the bottom of his status card that he had acquired some new skills. A support skill, Protect, and an offensive skill, Air Blade.
The next day, Tsutomu was now required to cast Protect before the battle. Garm and Amy dealt with the goblins. Heal was cast after the battle. When Tsutomu asked if it’d be okay if he used Air Blade, Garm scolded him much like a parent would a child.
“Tsutomu, your job is to protect before combat and heal after combat. Nothing more.”
“Uh, isn’t that a bit wasteful? Once I die, I can just respawn and come back, right? But yeah, it’s not like I want to get hurt, though.”
“White Mages are expected to use support skills before the battle and heal the party afterwards. There’s no problem if you stick to doing that.”
Tsutomu basically had no real experience in dungeons. So, he then grew rather weary from being coddled by Garm. Garm called out to him in a foreboding manner, and so Tsutomu put on a fake smile and held back his urge to dive into the dungeon.
After that, he trained for five days, practicing aiming his skills, and focusing and spreading the area of effect. It wasn’t perfect, but combined with the effects of the white cane, he had begun to see some results.
Afterwards, he watched the top clans in the dungeon explore for about half a day. He then realized that Garm was not in the wrong, and issued an honest apology.
“Basically, if you get hurt, you can just drink potions after the battle.”
“The cheapest potion is 10’000 G, you know? If you watch carefully, there’re a lot of parties that come back with low HP. Even if your level goes up you won’t be able to consume them. This is why people in the grasslands are stuck there for a long time.”
“Uwah~ Tsutomu, you sure are tough on those insects.”
Parties who haven’t gone past the tenth layer are considered to be insects by the rest of the community, though the nickname was kind of harsh, Tsutomu remained silent.
As they were chatting, five more goblins approached them. Tsutomu applied buffs, and then Amy and Garm went after them bare-handed.
Though Tsutomu wanted to stop getting carried and pull his own weight, he followed Garm’s instructions until he hit level 10.
Besides, from the start, it was decided that Tsutomu would carry on like this until level 10 – though he did continue to selfishly practice aiming his heals.
The current mainstream party configuration was four attackers and one healer. This was what most top guilds followed.
There were tactics in the game that allowed the attackers to kill enemies quickly under the cover of a tank, but it was much harder to pull off here. Thus, Tsutomu was excited to hear about this. However, when he got to actually watching this happen on one of the monitors in the guild, he felt disappointed.
The basic chain of action was to apply buffs first, then strike. Basically, the injured people would just drink potions to heal, while the healer hid. The only trouble the healer would have would be reviving dead party members at the end of the fight.
Surprisingly, healers were for the most part disposable. Magical skills depended on one’s MND to be effective, and that’s what healers used to revive and heal.
When the healer applied buffs, monsters recognized them as a threat and dropped their focus on other members of the party to target the healer with hostility.
As Tsutomu watched this on the monitor, while sitting on a bench, he quietly asked Garm to explain the situation.
Garm said that the leading clan wanted to go as far as possible, so they would leave recovery to potions, and leave healers to revive in case of unexpected attacks.
And as long as they were the highest, they’d be displayed on the monitor, so their popularity within the city and the guild would increase.
When popularity increases, profit would follow. The equipment that the party members are using would skyrocket in value, and it would be advertised in weapon and armor shops.
The problem was that the rest of the clans tended to blindly follow the top clan’s strategies.
And when the top clan wasn’t doing so well, it followed that other clans weren’t too. Their equipment would be mostly destroyed, and they’d have little to no HP left after a dungeon run.
Healers and pack mules were treated less fairly than everyone else, as they weren’t profitable or popular. Tsutomu saw many in the guild treated as such. It wasn’t a situation he was comfortable with.
[Healers are neglected even though they’re crucial to a party. I definitely won’t forgive this unfair treatment.]
Even if game tactics weren’t necessarily going to carry over to real life, and healers were considerably more squishy, it was still unjust to treat them in such a way.
Above all, Amy and Garm undermined Tsutomu’s opinion of the healer being good. Amy, in particular, had some words to say about the class.
–To begin with, it was time to change that stereotype. Tsutomu was now level 10, and at that level, it was okay for him to be the leader of the party.
After that, he tried to defeat dozens of goblins and requested they go back to the guild, even after just leveling up.
“Alright, let’s head back immediately! There’s stuff I want to do when we get back, but do we have time?”
“Tsutomu, you’re in surprisingly good spirits today. Are you thinking of something lewd?”
Garm glared at Amy, who was teasing Tsutomu and playing with her hand.
“Tsutomu wouldn’t lust over you, pervert.”
“If you want to die, you should be more straightforward. Do you want me to kill you as soon as we exit?”
“I doubt you can.”
“Why are you guys like this?”
Amy threw a spare magic stone towards Garm. After trying to break up the fight between her and Garm, he gathered up the mess of stones.