“What type of technique?” asked James.
“Fighting technique. Close quarter combat, and with weapons. At least, that’s what I’m best at. I can’t really do bows.”
James did agree that he didn’t know combat techniques whatsoever, and they would definitely help him inside the dungeon.
“What tells you I don’t know technique?” he asked.
“The way you stand,” replied the beanie.
“Huh. You can tell by just that much?”
“Well, it’s either you never studied fighting, or you use some really obscure techniques. Probably the first, in my opinion. After all, the obscure techniques are usually not well known for a good reason.”
James was pretty convinced of 2 things: First, the beanie had not always been a beanie. The consciousness inside the beanie used to be a human. Or, at least humanoid enough to understand the way the human body worked well, and shoot a bow. Second, the man (at least, James thought the person in the beanie was male) was an expert at fighting.
James didn’t have any concrete proof, but his intuition was telling him this. Listening to this beanie would be worth his time.
“What weapon do you use?” asked the beanie.
James was tempted to ask the beanie if it could tell what weapon he used, but was afraid of the response, “if you were better at using a weapon, I’d be able to tell.” So, he told the beanie the truth.
“Mainly knives. I have a knife for use in close combat, and I also use throwing knives. I have stabbed a monster or two with a spear. But, I haven’t learned any technique whatsoever.”
“Show me,” said the beanie.
James felt a bit embarrassed, but did some basic movements, stabbing at the air. The beanie didn’t say anything while he did so, making him a bit nervous.
Finally, the beanie asked him a question using telepathy.
“How long has it been since you started fighting?”
“Started? Uh, a bit more than a month.”
“Hmm. Well, it’s not the worst case. You don’t have any real techniques yet, so you’ve just been doing the things that feel most natural to you. This could’ve been a bit of a hassle if this dragged on too long, but thankfully you haven’t developed any bad habits yet. That being said, you haven’t developed any good ones either.”
James was expecting to be told that he had no talent for fighting whatsoever, and that he should give up, so this response didn’t faze him.
“By any chance, would you come from a planet named Earth? That would explain some things.”
“What?” James was taken aback for a moment. “How do you know that?”
“Well, that’s not for me to tell you. You’ll have to climb the dungeon to find out.”
The beanie appeared to know a thing or two about the dungeon, and about how it was connected to Earth. James wanted to ask more questions, but the beanie moved on. James let it go, since the beanie probably wouldn’t even answer his questions.
“Anyways, take your stance again.”
James moved back into the fighting stance.
“This is what I meant by your balance is off. Where do you think your center of balance is right now?”
James looked down. He was leaning on his forward left leg more than his backwards right leg.
“You see, your center of balance is too far forwards, and it is also not below your body. You’re bent a little bit. You almost always want to have a stable center of balance. That will allow you to be both steady and mobile.”
James followed the beanie’s instructions. Immediately, he felt better. When he tried moving from his new stance, his movements were less awkward. The most amazing thing about it was that James hadn’t even noticed the flaws before the beanie pointed them out for him.
James was filled with amazement. Just what was this beanie? Or who? James didn’t even know whether he was talking to a person or not.
But, he didn’t have much time to think about such things. The beanie was a very demanding coach. After it fixed his balance problem, it immediately pointed out a few more errors, and made James correct them.
“No, too high. Lower. No, not that low. There we go. Lord, what are you doing? Around your rib cage. That height!”
“Back needs to be straight. Shoulders back. I said straight, not curved. Okay, now you’re curving the other way.”
“No, that’s wrong. If you’re shifted that far, then you won’t be able to turn the other way.”
“If your back knee is bent that far, all it takes is someone to tap you and you’ll faceplant into the ground.”
“No, that’s wrong.”
James wanted to smack the beanie onto the ground. “How is that wrong? My balance is directly over the center, I’m not twisting my waist to face forwards. What’s wrong here?”
“Try jumping forward from that position.”
James tried to do as he was told, and he ended up landing badly, twisting his ankle and having to drink a recovery potion.
“And that is why what you were doing is wrong.”
“HOW COULD YOU EVEN PREDICT THAT I’D TWIST MY ANKLE?!”
“Honestly, I didn’t think you’d get injured. I thought you’d try a small hop, and then stumble or fall. Imagine my surprise when you launched forwards as if you were trying to tackle somebody. I am truly sorry.”
The beanie was most definitely not sorry at all.
James thought that the verbal abuse he received from his sister made him immune to insults. But, the straightforward yet harsh criticism he was currently being assaulted by made him reconsider. The beanie probably wasn’t even trying to insult him, but that made it even worse. The sheer amount of errors it pointed out as it watched James fumble around dug into his heart and ego like a sharp spike.
However, in the end, James felt that it was worth it. He had learned nothing but knowledge of the basic stance, as well as some basic strafing and shuffling movements. He didn’t learn anything to do with a knife. However, James felt that he would be able to dodge enemy attacks and start his own with more precision now, by using his body more effectively. It was as the beanie said. James didn’t have any good habits, but he didn’t have any bad ones either, which meant that he could easily change his mistakes.
“Hmmm. You weren’t very good at first, but your rate of improvement is remarkable. Of course, that’s also partly due to me. Still, I did not imagine that you would improve so much. Impressive.”
When he heard the beanie’s voice, James tried to look at it. However, since he was wearing it, his attempt was unsuccessful. So, he had to reply while staring at the wall.
“Are you just praising your own teaching skills?”
“It’s not just my teaching skill, actually. But, whatever. I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
Not just the beanie’s teaching skill? Then what was it? Another question formed in James’ mind. He thought he was confused when he first encountered the dungeon, but now, his head was crammed with so many of them that his skull was about to burst.
The beanie thought for a moment. “Hmm, it appears I don’t have much time left.”
“What?” James panicked. “What do you mean? Are you gonna die? You’re a beanie, can you even die in the first place?”
“I’m about to run out of magic power, and go into hibernation.”
“Oh.” James felt kind of stupid for panicking. “Wait, run out of magic power? Wait, was it due to those magic stones you absorbed?”
“Yes. If you want to awaken me again, let me absorb more magic stones. You can get them from the dungeon, although I do believe a noble like you can simply buy enough low tier stones. ”
“What? What do you mean?”
“Just buy them...right. You are from Earth. I forgot.” The beanie sounded like it had just remembered something. “Nevermind, forget what I said.”
“Wait, what do you mean I’m a noble? Also, what was it about”
“Your glasses. Those are something only nobles wear, usually. Tricky to make, and very fragile. Yet, they attract all the delicate dames, for some reason.” The beanie skipped over the part about Earth. James noticed this, but didn’t bother pressing, since he wouldn’t be able to get anything out of it.
But still, what was it even saying about his glasses? James felt as if the beanie was talking about the medieval period, where glass products were considered high luxuries.
“Anyways, let me do something about that. Although they are fashionable, spectacles are definitely a hindrance to fighting. This will be best.”
Without a warning, James’ eyes began to feel warm. The sensation didn’t hurt, but it was a bit unpleasant.
The beanie kept talking, but didn’t explain what he was doing. “I’m exhausting the last of my current magic power with this, so I will go into temporary hibernation. Collect more magic stones, and activate me again. I’ll be waiting. And don’t forget to keep your back straight.”
He was forced to close his eyes due to the weird feeling. Eventually, the unpleasantness faded away. When he opened his eyes once more, his glasses were in his hand, but he could see normally.
“Wow.” James blinked. He wasn’t used to the feeling of not having anything on the bridge of his nose. James tried putting the glasses back on, expecting to be able to see how blind he used to be. However, to his surprise, he found that he was able to see perfectly fine with or without his glasses.
“This must be the work of that damn beanie.”
James pulled the beanie off his head and looked at it. The presence in it was gone.
He leaned back and thought about his conversation with the beanie. The beanie actually knew it was talking about. It really did know fighting techniques. James wanted to be under its tutelage. His strength would improve dramatically.
Due to some things the beanie said, a few suspicions built in James’ mind. Additionally, he felt that he knew the beanie’s voice from somewhere.
James would have to wring more information out of it later.