The sharpened point of Manato's spear-staff sank into the left shoulder of the goblin he was fighting with Haruhiro.
He immediately wished he had gone for the right shoulder as the goblin gave a scream of rage and twisted its body around on the end of the spear, trying to stretch out its right arm to slash at him with its sword.
"[Hit]!" Haruhiro shouted as he struck at the goblin's outstretched arm, scoring a hit on it and drawing a far bit of blood. With tendons cut, the sword slipped through the goblin's fingers.
"Thank you." Manato gasped as he spun himself a little, using the momentum to throw the goblin to the ground.
The goblin was trying to get up, blood gushing everywhere as it stared at Manato with beady black eyes full of hate which sent a small shiver up the Priest's spin. But he wouldn't let that stop him. He had to appear strong. If he was shaken, then the entire party might follow. He had to be strong for their sake if not his own. So with a final cry, Manato pushed his spear into the goblin's head. The feel of pressing his blade into the creature's skull caused bile to form in the back of the young man's throat.
He couldn't freeze up. The fight wasn't over.
Ranta and Yume were teaming up against a second goblin, with Moguzo was facing off with a third goblin, being backed up by Shihoru. Mary stood beside Shihoru, her staff at the ready, but not seeming to be in any hurry to join in the attack.
But that was not her job. She was supposed to protect the Mage and provide healing. She would do nothing else, even if her assistance on the frontline would have been a great help to Moguzo.
"Haru, help Ranta and Yume, I'll back up Moguzo." Manato instructed the Thief.
"Right." Haruhiro said, moving off to the side in order to circle around the enemy.
Manato ran forward to Moguzo's aid as the Warrior struggled with his goblin. The sword and shield style that the goblin was using was much more fast paced than what Moguzo could keep up with while using his oversized sword, and the larger boy was being pushed back by a series of strikes.
The Warrior was ill matched and was struggling to hold his own by himself. Manato had known that going up against three opponents at once might have been too much, but against his better judgment he had agreed to try. They were lucky that the armor Shirou had given them was of a good quality compared to the warn down iron chainmail provided by the Warrior's Guild, otherwise Moguzo would have likely taken injures on both his arms and sides already.
Manato joined in with a strong overhand [Bash] bringing his spear right down at the goblin. Even though the creature blocked the attack with its shield, it was forced to stagger backwards, giving Moguzo the room he needed to get in a good swing of his own that knocked the goblin flat on its ass. Unfortunately, they hesitated too much to press their offensive and the goblin was back on its feet and once again had its shield up before they could finish the job.
"Thanks." Moguzo said, as he breathed heavily.
"Keep your guard up and spread out around him. Remember that we can take all the time we need. Haruhiro will help Ranta and Yume finish their target off soon." Manato told Moguzo.
"Right." The man said, nodding his head.
The two of them took their time, each strafing around the enemy in opposite directions and trying to keep the pressure on it. The goblin spun around, trying to snarl at both of them, swinging his sword and shield around in an attempt to keep both away. Then, seeing that it was out of options, it started to rush at Manato, determining him to be the smaller target.
The Priest blocked the monster's sword slash and tried to retaliate, only to having his action blocked by the shield. He was pushed onto his back leg and struggled to keep up with the goblin's mad attacks. "[Mystic Missile.]" Shihoru's spell slammed into the goblin's side, knocking it away as if it had been slammed into by a large animal.
Moguzo tried to finish the goblin, bringing down his sword in a two handed [Rage Cleaver]. "Thank you!"
The goblin abandoned its shield, rolling out of the way as the large sword slammed into the ground with a dull thud, cutting a small groove into the soil. Even with the miss, the goblin was now bleeding, and had lost the shield that had been giving the boys so much trouble.
"Damn it!" Ranta shouted. Manato's eyes darted to the boy and saw him staggering back from his own goblin. Blood was dripping down from a cut across his upper arm, above his gauntlet.
"Mary, I have my hands busy here. Go heal Ranta." Manato said, trying to keep his focus on the goblin in front of him. However, he nearly dropped his spear in surprise when he heard her response.
"I refuse." Mary said in her detached voice. "It's only a flesh wound. It doesn't require healing."
Ranta summarized it best with his response. "Are you shitting me!?"
Morale was very mixed as Manato and his team walked back into barracks later that afternoon. The day had been successful, with them having managed to hunt down seven goblins total, even if the yield from all seven of them was only around the same as the one they had managed to take down two days before. However, there was one thing that put a damper on their spirits: Mary.
They were all starting to see why Mary was often jokingly called 'Scary Mary', and why she never stayed with a party for very long. After all, who would want a healer who wouldn't heal?
While they had managed to get through their fight just fine, with Yume pulling off a kill on the goblin that had injured Ranta, before the five of them all ganged up on the remaining target, it was still a confusing moment for all of them. It wasn't helped when after the battle was over, and Ranta was demanding to know why she wouldn't heal him, she just glared him down and forced him to talk to her with respect, calling her 'Ms. Mary'. She told them that she would decide when she would heal them and what actions she would take. The her brutal coldness made everyone uncomfortable. Not only did she not help with fights or healing, she was bad for morale too.
In the end, Manato ended up healing Ranta's injury.
It was still the only [Cure] spell he had been required to use that day, so Manato returned to barracks relatively fresh, though with some food for thought.
Why would Shirou have recommended such an unreliable person to them? Was it simply because unaffiliated Priests were rare and there was no one else? Did he just not know what she was like? No, that wasn't it. The way they talked, Shirou knew exactly what Mary was like, but recommended her anyways. Why would he do that?
"Looks like Shirou-senpai's group is already back." Haruhiro said, gazing towards the kitchen where a small line of smoke was coming from the chimney. "I know we're starting to make a little money, but I'm still glad they are willing to feed us. It sure does relieve the stress."
Haruhiro was right, even after the last two successful hunts, without their senpais assisting them with expenses, they would have only just broken even. And there was no way that they would have been willing to try and handle the fights against multiple opponents they had that day without the armor and weapons Shirou had provided them. Not to mention the training allowing their group to make proper use of Yume and Shihoru's ranged support. They had a lot of reasons to be grateful.
Still, Manato would like to ask for an explanation about Mary.
However, when they entered the kitchen they found Rin there tending to a pot of stew with a slightly concerned look on her face. However, when she saw them she gave them all a charming smile, like the kind that would be carved onto a statue of a mother goddess.
"It's good to see that you've all returned home safely. Dinner will be ready in a few minutes. It might not be up to Archer's standards of cooking, but I hope you will still join us anyways." She said.
"Huh, where's senpai?" Yume asked, looking around the kitchen, as if he would be hiding under one of the tables or in the closet, terrifying of an image as that was. Manato laughed to himself as he pictured a dark closet slowly opening to reveal Shirou standing there with a practice sword in hand, him and his team all screaming like little girls, like in some low budget horror movie… Movie?
"Archer has been sent to bed. So I'm going to be taking over in the kitchen until he recovers from his sleep deprived state." Rin told them.
"That's right. Shirou-senpai did say that he had been staying up at night so that he could work on our armor. He also helped up with training and had been doing all the chores and preparing meals." Haruhiro said frowning. "I guess he must have tired himself out helping us."
Manato's group shifted around awkwardly, knowing that they were to blame for Shirou's exhaustion.
"Don't feel guilty. Working himself hard like that is just in his nature. He didn't go to bed willingly. He was pretty insistent that he could still hunt and cook. I had to use my magic to knock him out, the same why I did for the four of you when you were peeking." Rin said with a small smile. With the reminder of their crime, Yume glared at the boys while Shihoru just blushed and turned her head away. Manato's shoulders plummeted. They had said that they were sorry. He regretted having given into to his baser instincts… even if they had managed to get that view… No, he was supposed to feel regret! Regret! "If it wasn't you, then it would have been something else. Archer is like a fidgety child who can't sit still for five minutes to save his life."
The Rookie group was all shocked into silence, having Shirou described as a problem child was something so bizarre that they didn't know what to say or think about it.
"Enough about that though. How was your day? Did hunting go well?" Rin asked them as she put out a pot of tea for them to drink from. She took a sip of it herself and barely masked her disappointment at the taste. It was still pretty good compared to what was normally served around the city, but it just didn't compare to what Shirou made. It lacked that sense that the entire universe had suddenly and miraculously obtained true and perfect balance for a few fleeting moments. The kind of thing where you half expect a rainbow or aurora to appear just to mark the moment.
The party didn't really know what to say. The boys all exchanging glances. None of them really knew Rin as well as they knew Shirou, and save for Yume, they couldn't even be said to know Shirou all that well. The most they knew about Rin was that she was a crazy powerful Mage and Priest, who was more than a little scary even in physical combat. Ranta in particular was eyeing the door, wondering if he should make a run for it. The Dread Knight had found Shirou to be just as scary, but mostly calm and passive and so Ranta could deal with being around him. But Rin was someone who could even master a guy like Shirou and engage him on a casual level, which elevated her from scary to terrifying in the perverted Dread Knight's eyes. Not to mention the killing intent they had felt from her the night before.
It was Yume who spoke up, seeming as unconcerned as ever. Possibly even excited. "It went really well! Yume and Haru managed to track down five different small groups! Two of them were too big, so we had to leave them alone, but we managed to beat the other three! Yume even shot two Go-blues herself." Yume said in her bubbling and childish manner, saying it as if they had gone fishing rather than had been fighting for their lives.
"Goblins." Haruhiro corrected flatly.
"Is that so? I'm glad everything is going well for you all." Rin said with nod of approval.
"Yep, everything went much better than before. Only Ranta got injured once, and Mary said that it was just a flash wand." Yume said as she took her own tea. Unlike Rin, she didn't seem to mind the drop in quality.
"Flesh wound." Haruhiro corrected her again.
"And let me guess, Mary didn't want to heal him before returning to the city." Rin said with a knowing smile.
"Yeah, that's right." Yume said, nodding her head before putting a finger to her chin and puffing out one cheek to show that she was thinking. "Which was kind of weird, because Mary didn't even know Ranta yet."
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean!?" Ranta shouted indignantly.
"Don't take it personally. Mary just has her own philosophy when it comes to a Priest's duties. Because of the limited number of heal spells a Priest can perform, she believes it is best to only use them when the situation calls for it. Those limited number of heal spells represent the boundary between life and death, so she is very careful about where she uses them. If your life isn't in danger, then it is best to save the Healing for later. If your armor can handle the attacks, there is no need for a blessing. If victory is assured, there is no need for a miracle." Rin explained for the younger group. "If Manato had left the wound as is, Mary probably would have healed it once you returned to the city, since she would have time to replenish her reserves."
Manato was stunned. Mary's actions suddenly made a lot more sense. He himself had been rushing to make sure that his team was always alright, even from the smallest of wounds. How many times had he healed them from basic scrapes and bites that had not been life threatening injuries and had drained himself of magic in the process? Perhaps he was far too careless with his healing magic.
"I see. So that's how a veteran Priest thinks." Manato said, more to himself than anyone else.
"Actually, no." Rin said with a small shake of her head. "Most Priests agree that if you ignore small wounds, they tend to cause people to make more mistakes and become more seriously injured and can even cause death. This is why Mary is so often thrown out of her parties. Normally her livelihood comes from raids since she can provide extra support once the raid is already over and she no longer needs to worry about conserving energy. Besides, for day long trips into less densely populated areas, such tactics are usually unnecessary at best for more experienced Priests with larger magic pools. Mary should have more than enough magic to heal all of you."
"If it is pointless, then was does she act like that? Why did Shirou recommend her?" Ranta grumbled.
"I have no idea why Mary thinks the way she does. I really don't know her that well. I've only worked with her twice and only really know her through the Tikkos. As for why Archer would recommend her, it's probably because Shirou shares the same philosophy when it comes to battle." Rin said.
"Senpai thinks the same way?" Yume asked. The others vaguely remembered how during their training regiment, Shirou had refused to allow them to be healed of their bruises until after the training was over.
"Yes. Not only would Archer refuse healing if he received a flesh wound, he'd also does a lot of resource management when it comes to his weapons. He always carries with him far more weaponry than he needs and when choosing what weapon to use, he will use the lowest quality weapon he thinks he can get away with using so that he can save the stronger weapons for the more important fights." Rin explained.
"That sounds stupid. Why not just use your best blade all the time?" Ranta said.
"You might think that now while you're dealing with only a bunch of unarmored mud goblins, but once you fight with stronger and more heavily armored opponents, you'll find that swords don't last very long when swung against armor day after day. Your armor can usually be repaired, but repairing weapons is a much more expensive process. It's usually cheaper to just replace your weapons around once a month because of basic wear and tear ruining the cutting edge. Or at the rate Archer goes through them, twice a week." Rin said, chuckling a bit. "Archer even uses his own personalized techniques to extend the weapons lifetime, but he still ruins them pretty quickly with how hard he uses them."
"Replacing a sword once a month." Haruhiro said, lowering his eyes and biting his lip. "A low-quality iron short sword costs four silver in the market. That's more than double what our entire group has made put together. Higher quality weapons cost even more. Upwards of forty silver pieces for good steel, and even more for higher quality or exotic metals." Count on Haruhiro to have kept his eyes and ears open in the market to check on the value of things. "A full set of second-hand armor costs eight gold at the very least, and the leathers to help wear it is another five silver, then there is all the food and the money he gave Yume… How much in debt are we to Shirou-senpai?"
Manato flinched a little after hearing Haruhiro listing out all the numbers. Shirou must have simply given them thirty gold worth of things already, fifty times as much as they had received from Bri.
"Don't think of it like that. You are under no obligation to pay us back." Rin said, waving them off. "We've done pretty much the same thing for every other group that has walked through the barracks doors since we got here."
"You guys do this every time a new group shows up? No wonder they still live in this dump." Ranta said, sounding more in wonder than guilty.
"We aren't poor if that is what you are asking. All of the equipment you've gotten from us hasn't cost us anything more than time and energy. Our party is sitting on around six hundred gold at the moment. So we actually could afford to have straight payed for all of those things if we had to. Archer just prefers to do all the resizing jobs himself. He says that the Blacksmith's Guild is too slow and expensive when it comes to refitting armor." Rin said with a short laugh, seeming not to notice the others' eyes at the mention of just how much money they had. They weren't just not poor, they were loaded. "The Blacksmith's guild is furious at us for it. They try to undercut our business, but we aren't actually competing with them. It's kind of funny how they keep dropping their prices, thinking that they will out compete with us, when we aren't selling any armor or weapons."
"How much would the resizing job normally cost?" Haruhiro asked.
"If you already have the armor, it costs around two gold. So that is ten gold if you have to both purchase the second-hand armor, and have it resized. Still better than making a full set from scratch, which would be thirty to fifty gold, depending on the variety." Rin said, giving them all a good estimate of the costs involved in their line of work.
"Um… Ms. Rin." Moguzo said holding up a hand, like a kid in class trying nervously to attract a teacher's attention.
"You don't need to be formal. Just Rin is fine." Rin said politely.
"The food." Moguzo said, pointing towards the pot which was starting to steam violently and bubble over.
I'm probably going to stop writing for a while. Morale is low, and I find myself just no longer caring about the story, or fanfiction in general. No it isn't writer's block, it's depression, and it is a bitch. But that is something that comes and goes, so I'll probably be back eventually... probably... eventually.
There are a few things from canon in Grimgar that I forgot, because they are all video game logic that doesn't really make sense in context. Such as Priests being forbidden from using bladed weapons, because they are symbols of violence and death, but one wielding a warhammer and breaking people's skulls open (evil cultists are humans too you know) while screaming about how he is going kick the living shit out of everything that lives is perfectly acceptable. (Priests are encouraged to kill enemies when able, and are even allowed staves that have sharp points, but they aren't permitted bladed weapons.)
I am trying to find rational explanations for everything, like the Gleaming Line being some kind of inherent trait, since Thieves aren't actually taught it and they don't have a God to bless them with it, but I can't think of any way to rationalize why the Priest's Guild would be morally opposed to using blades. It isn't like their god opposes swords in general. He/she is the same god as the one overseeing the Paladins who all use swords.
Explanation about Gleaming Line in the Light Novel.
Gleaming Line's visual aspect is only a metaphor. He doesn't literally see a line. Not in the Line Novel at least.
It's actually more like the Mind's Eye character trait in the Naruverse, in that if you have enough insight about your enemy, you can fall into a trance in which you predict all their moves based on prior knowledge of the enemy type. You visualize what victory looks like and then create a series of events that would achieve the desired end.
So Shirou, being the OP bastard that he is, pretty much always has it going without knowing it, and not making the connection because it is supposed to be a rare event, not the normal state of mind.
The reason why Haruhiro falls into it so often is because he focuses on fighting a single enemy type day in and day out for months rather than diversifying his prey. He also doesn't allow himself to get cocky and remains in a constant state of believing that he is one misstep away from death.