After fighting my way through the life-and-death struggle with the bear, I first of all decided to make a few experiments with my lifeline, magic.
So now I'm still in the same room, sitting on the floor and thinking carefully.
Knowing yourself is important.
First, there's simply the power.
You can say that the results allow me to have quite high hopes in that regard.
The magic of level 4 me has felled the level 10 bear in one strike.
Well, I also hit the bear with a lightning strike from the Lightning Rod, so another test is required to see if one strike really is enough though.
One strike, or not.
If I am to fight alone, that difference is huge.
I can't think that the Lightning Rod's lightning strikes are more powerful than my Thunder, so I can defeat bears with two strikes at most, but there's a trap in the cast time and the cooldown.
Thunder: 10s cast time, 10s cooldown.
If acting in a party, those time windows shouldn't cause problems.
Of course, that assumes the party has someone holding up the frontline.
"Without a tank, the backline can't shine...?"
The firepower is plenty though.
So, does a Mage require a party after all?
For argument's sake, let's assume I hadn't put my leftover Attribute points into Agility, but had gone for Endurance 2 and Protection 3.
Would I have survived my run-in with the bear?
Endurance 2 is average.
Protection 3 is good.
And since I can't change Mind 5, Agility would be 0.
With that setup, I cannot expect to slip past the earlier paw attacks like I had.
So would I have taken the attack and survive?
"An attack from those paws that pulverize horse and cow necks?
That's probably impossible.
The level difference was too big, too.
So, should I have gone full-out with Protection 5?
That would've changed nothing, either.
Normally thinking, you can do nothing with Endurance 0.
For a Mage going solo, the way I spent my Attribute points isn't wrong.
Endurance 2, Protection 5, Mind 3 is an option, too, but decreasing its greatest charm, the firepower, goes against my thoughts a little.
A Mage equipping a shield and standing on the frontline.
Well, there are probably a few of those in this world.
Let's try shooting it at a nearby wall for a test.
Actually, I've already tried it before. I don't particularly need to target a monster to use magic.
I can probably use it against humans, too, of course.
During the 10s cast time, I can actually feel my body generate the mana required to shoot the magic.
It doesn't mean that I actually need to say a 10 second long chant.
Lightning raced towards the wall.
And apparently I don't have to say the chant at the end, either.
However, the lightning feels darker than when I did say it.
I need to test it in practice later, but I can probably think of it having less power, too.
And then there is the cooldown.
Maybe my body is lacking the mana after using the magic, but at least I feel languid.
The cooldown time feels like the time it takes for my body to restore the mana inside it from the air surrounding me.
Why? Because even now lightly glowing particles gather around my body and I start slowly feeling better.
The time that takes? Ten seconds.
———so, can I cast another spell before that time is up?
I once more willed the magic to activate.
The light particles that had still been gathering around my body stopped that and switched to magic activation.
The cooldown was stopped and my sensation changed to that of mana being generated from within my body.
I dropped against the wall again.
———the moment the spell activated, a dizzying feeling of exhaustion assaulted me.
This seems like the side effect from not accommodating the cooldown, in other words the time it takes for my body to naturally recover its mana.
Let me focus on recovering for a while and steady my breath.
So this is how it feels to run out of gas.
But if this is it, I can ignore the cooldown when push comes to shove.
There's no need to push myself too much, but knowing it never hurts.
Most importantly, if I'm solo I can only use this as a finisher.
If I can't win with it yet make myself stagger this much, it's over.
Applying it to this place I'm in right now, it's effective against the bears if I can't defeat them with one hit.
I'll still have to work a means to overcome the 10s casting time no matter what though.
Then there is the amount of mana I can store in my body, doesn't it change a lot with level and Attributes?
Apprentice Mage Level 5
I leveled up earlier, so I'm level 5 now.
Some time I'll need to try out how much I can ignore the cooldown without running out of gas.
Magic: Thunder (Proficiency 1)
This Proficiency entry is fairly intriguing.
Shooting the wall like I've been doing is not counted.
It likely increases by defeating enemies and the like.
I have various ideas on it, but only time will tell what it exactly does.
And with that, I've finished the verifications I can do myself, I guess?
What's going to happen once I learn Double Cast and Cast Time Reduction?
There are so many things I still don't understand.
"... a mentor would be nice..."
I really want one.
I really want many things.
But, well, now's not the time for that.
How am I going to get back?
That's the question.
I can fight against bear-class enemies while buying time for ten seconds.
"Hmmm... it seems really short, yet long..."
That's around the time a world athlete takes to run 100m.
Thinking about it like that, it seems like the blink of an eye.
Now, what should I do...
———and while I was thinking that, the entrance magic circle started shining.
Eh, someone's coming?
In the middle of the night?
Wait, so did I.
Just sitting around and blanking out felt dangerous, so I moved into the corner of the room and readied the Lightning Rod.
From the light appeared———
How did you know I'm here?
That's what I was mainly confused about.
Hearing my voice, Shion-san turned around.
Shion-san murmured something.
Then she came towards me with long steps.
That was quite a magnificent sound.
I've been slapped.
Rather than hurt, everything went pure white.
And while I was dumbfounded, Shion-san checked my body here and there.
"Arms, legs, all there..."
She finished her check and grabbed me by the collar.
My legs lifted off the ground.
"——Does it hurt? Good. That's nothing to the pain you caused Pops and Mom."
———I couldn't say anything.
"Just how selfishly have you lived so far!? Were you some caged bird? Or some Miss Happy-go-lucky? Hm!?"
Shion-san's words, hurt.
She choked me to the limit, and when I thought I'd suffocate, she shoved me against the wall.
My legs couldn't muster any strength and I sank to the floor right there.
"——*cough*! Hah, ha"
I lowered my eyes as I got my breathing under control.
Scared, I couldn't look up at Shion-san.
My body was trembling.
This is scarier than facing the bear.
Now, I should rather say the kind of fear is different.
Fighting with monsters feels like a game.
——Confronting people, that's real.
Shion-san grabbed my trembling shoulders once more.
"—— but you know... the fact that you idiot are safe... I'm really so glad. Stupid Alice."
And just like that, she pulled me in and closed me into her arms.
"So glad... I'm really..."
She was crying.
Ahh... I see.
This, this is no game, and I'm not alone either.
I've done something stupid.
"I'm really... sorry..."
"Really now, stupid!"
Voom, she hit her forehead against mine.
Shion-san was a crying mess.
"... can I... still... call you Onee-chan?"
That earned me another headbutt.
"Stupid... no matter how stupid you are, you cannot cut family ties that easily, you stupid Alice!"
"Haha... you're calling me stupid too much."
"I'm not doing it enough, stupid."
Shion-san hugged me once more with all her strength.
The sensation was so incredibly warm. I hugged her back.
Ah. Interacting with people, facing people...
It's so scary...
...and it makes you so happy.
I really was an idiot, I get that now.
And from the bottom of my heart, I'm grateful.
"... thank you, Onee-chan."
I wanted to convey the words from noon once more, coming from the heart this time.