A week had passed since then, and Barbara was still struggling to keep up against multiple Skeletons. Although the number she could manage at once had increased to six, these monsters were still much tougher than Goblins, so she had yet to achieve any remarkable results.
Regardless, Barbara had been keeping her attitude positive all the while, so the team’s mood and communication during combat had not been bad at all. Having considered how things have been going, Tsutomu guessed that Barbara would be able to fulfill her minimum roles as a Tank within the remaining twenty days, so at this time, he still did not feel the need to hurry.
Though she still had much to learn to fully function as a Tank, such as controlling the magnitude of her skills, for now, it was more important that she trained to avoid taking critical hits and being surrounded by monsters — to let a portion of the monsters’ attacks focus on her, reducing the damage intake of the entire party. Such was the minimum requirement of taking the role of a Tank.
Moreover, since Tsutomu also intended to teach Eunice about <<Combat Cry>> and other aggro management skills, having her watch along as things went on also worked well; all Barbara needed to do was start by using <<Combat Cry>> once, then use other situational aggro skills according to the Healers’ direction.
As for Eunice’s progress, on the other hand, she had successfully homogenized her support skills’ durations within the first two days. For the next two after that, she had achieved the ability to adjust the quantity of mental strength she put into her healing and support skills; now she was able to input weak, standard, and strong amounts of energy for situational use. Additionally, her direction of skill shots had also improved. In the remaining three days, she had shown to be able to output higher healing power than Tsutomu when she cast <<Heal>> while standing in <<Area Heal>>, and had successfully learned to place <<Haste>> skill pick-ups after observing Tsutomu’s demonstrations and some practice.
Tsutomu was somewhat surprised by how quickly Eunice had gotten the hang of everything, since he had initially intended to have her practice the uses of <<Area Heal>> and skill placements while in actual combat instead.
“Now, I’ve done everything so far. So what’s next? I’ll learn it in no time at all!” Eunice declared to Tsutomu. Her expression was prideful, her chin turned up, and the fox ears on top of her head stood out like she was asserting herself.
Early in the morning, everyone was having breakfast in the Dining Hall of the Golden Tune Clan House. Tsutomu was here as well, and since he had free time, he passed the time by practicing his direction of support skill shots; Eunice did the same while she spoke with him, sending a <<Haste>> shot flying around in the air.
For Eunice, all the skills she had been assigned to learn thus far were attainable without difficulty as long as she gave them time. As such, she was annoyed by Tsutomu’s position within her Clan and how he seemed to think nothing of being received as such an important guest.
It was true that he had brought in new information most useful for White Mages — healing allies with a long-ranged form of <<Heal>>, using <<Area Heal>> in a Skill Combo — both of which Eunice would never have come up with herself. However, Eunice did not like the fact that Tsutomu was so highly regarded by Leon just because of a handful of achievements. The topmost reason for Leon’s acknowledgment of him was the fact that he had defeated a Fire Dragon with just a party of three, but the two other members of his team were Garm, the fearsome Knight famous as the Mad Dog, and Camille, the Dragonewt who possessed a unique skill and had already racked up achievements in other Dungeons. Tsutomu at the time was not all too weak, either, but since he’d had those two of the most famous figures in town with him, the possibility was high that they had just happened to mesh together well.
Even in his team’s second battle, with Amy in their ranks instead, his strategies still relied on Garm’s strength to ward off the Fire Dragon, while Tsutomu himself simply provided healing and support. Eunice would have acknowledged Tsutomu’s abilities if his healing and support skills were extremely difficult to master, but as it turned out, she had only needed ten days of practice to learn them, shots and placements included.
From what Eunice could see, the only thing this man had over her was some degree of creativity. To her, he was a better fit to be with mid-tier Clans that had not reached even the fiftieth layer yet. Eunice felt a big hit to her ego to see this kind of person was considered above her in some respects, and had even intentionally humiliated her in front of Leon at one point.
[But that nonsense ends today!]
Eunice had successfully learned to place <<Haste>> pick-ups in the same way Tsutomu did, albeit without needing Tsutomu to teach her. Thinking that he must be so frustrated to see someone else simply going ahead and learn a skill he was so proud of, Eunice looked up at Tsutomu with quite a degree of amusement showing on her face.
Tsutomu himself, on the other hand, did not care much for Eunice’s condescending attitude; rather, he had a certain level of appreciation for her fast improvement and enthusiasm, what with her being so persistent with her practice and even resorting to drinking bad-tasting Potions to keep going. He had initially estimated that it would take Eunice at least a month to learn the fundamentals of healing and support skills; seeing that she had achieved results beyond his expectations, he gave her a mild round of applause.
“You’ve learned support skill placements in a week without needing me to teach you… that was quite unexpected. Most impressive, Eunice.”
“…Hmph. This isn’t even my best yet!”
In the past ten days, Eunice had not been subjected to any emotionally charged words from Tsutomu. But now, being hit with a statement of genuine praise, Eunice looked away while her expression hinted that she was not as dissatisfied as one would think… that, and her yellow tail was wagging up and down.
Tsutomu, seeing Eunice’s expression and reaction, felt somewhat suspicious and puzzled, but he decided to disregard that for now and continued the discussion at hand,
“Now, let’s get you used to real combat. We’ll start with a party of three — you, Barbara, and an Attacker. It’ll be in the Wastelands, same as before.”
“I know, I know.”
“As for the Attacker… Diniel should be a good fit. Having a bow with us should make training scenarios more easily adjustable.”
Eunice nodded and immediately went over to call Diniel, who looked to still be sleepy while munching on a sandwich. Barbara, while sipping some sort of clear yellow fruit juice with a straw, cracked a bitter smile.
“Eunice really dislikes you, doesn’t she, Tsutomu?”
“Well, it’s a good thing that she’s still capable and cooperative. Hahaha…”
Tsutomu had seen a fair share of people with great capabilities but difficult personalities back in Live Dungeon; among them, Eunice still was in the relatively manageable portion. Reminded of his game Clan Members, some of which were incompetent to top off their undesirable personalities, Tsutomu’s eyes turned into those of a dead fish… which was then further intensified by Barbara’s chuckle.
“By the way, Barbara, I’ll be having you practice in actual combat more and more from today on, so it would be very helpful if you followed my direction as much as possible.”
“Y-yes, I understand.”
“Well, I say direction, but it’ll mostly be the timing with which you use <<Combat Cry>>, so there’s no need to be that nervous.”
Barbara, having occasionally been given the strict treatment from Tsutomu during battle, looked clearly relieved as she held her straw in her mouth. The Golden Tune’s policy during battles was for every individual to decide their own actions without any specific instructions, so Barbara was quite surprised by Tsutomu’s style of giving out precise commands.
It was not necessarily the cast that she was afraid of Tsutomu’s words, but each time during battle when she thought she had just messed up, Tsutomu would always give out instructions to help correct her approach. Barbara did not particularly think it to be unpleasant, but she simply could not keep herself calm and composed knowing that his sights would never overlook anything.
“I’m aware that I might have come off as quite self-important when giving out orders, so let me apologize now if you think that is the case.”
“Oh, no, I don’t find that offensive at all. It’s just… you’re kinda scary, or something,” Barbara cut off her sentence awkwardly, and proceeded to blow into her straw, bubbling up the fruit juice in her cup.
Getting that sort of reply from Barbara, Tsutomu was at a loss for words. He himself was not so aware of how much he had raised his voice, but since Barbara felt it was scary, he now figured that there must have been a tone discrepancy between them. Feeling that he had misread Barbara’s personality, and in turn inappropriately acted toward her this whole time, Tsutomu had a few drops of stressful sweat run down his forehead.
“I’m… sorry about that. I’ll try not to sound scary from now on.”
“Wait, no! I do think you’re acting with our best interests in mind… And I know I’ve been spoiled in some way by the leniency of this place, so…! I think it’ll be better if you kept being strict with us!”
“Ah, if you say so… Still, I’ll try to watch my tone, at least.”
Somewhat pulled back on track by Barbara’s loudness, Tsutomu eventually nodded in agreement with her.