Chapter 68 – Glasses boy worries about the next step
“In the first place, people can be killed easily. Think of that as a foundation.” Zant told us.
This ugly old man started telling us something important while we were panting and at the limit of our physical and mental strength.
Honestly, I wish he could look at the condition of the other party first before he started talking.
However, from Zant’s point of view, lecturing me and Lisse while we are physically and mentally tired is just an efficient usage of time.
“You want to be strong? If you ask me, assassins don’t need to be strong.
“Or rather, as you raise your skills, you’ll inevitably become stronger, but even then, a ‘strong assassin’ is synonym to ‘incompetent’.” Zant told us.
Yes, I do want to be strong.
When he asked me and Lisse about what we were looking for, Zant said that with a flat smile… A strong assassin is an incompetent one.
“In the first place, ‘strong’ is a unit of comparison. ‘Stronger than him’, ‘weaker than him’, ‘can beat that Demon Beast’, ‘can’t beat that Demon Beast’.
“This isn’t the right way to think about it. Assassins don’t live while working with this kind of banal logic.
“Assassins don’t compare. We just do one-sided killing.” Zant told us.
One-sided killing, huh?
How to say it… The way that Zant is referring to assassins… Makes me really think of a hunter.
My fast-beating heart started to slow down, and my breathing started stabilizing.
Me and Lisse ran through the road ten times today.
We were finally starting to be able to barely see Zant’s back as we ran. He was still too far ahead, but we could see him at least.
Though we are putting our all into this, while Zant doesn’t seem to be serious yet.
Moreover, me and Lisse have yet to make any progress in our competitions. We are still at about the same speed.
It’s been two weeks since we started training, yet neither me nor Lisse have been able to move to the next step, so we just kept on moving through the road.
Our physical strength, running speed, and technique to move through the road have all improved, but we have yet to get a passing grade. I don’t know when we’ll get it, but I know it’s not gonna come today.
And on a side note, I’ve recently noticed that the scaffolding of the road changes position each day.
Even if we learn the placement of the scaffolding and figure out what is the ideal route to move faster, that knowledge won’t carry over to the next day, as the positions will be changed.
Essentially, we’re forced to keep on adapting to the new environment with each passing day, forcing us to keep finding new routes.
And today, Lisse asked Zant, “How long are we going to keep on doing this? I want to get stronger as soon as possible.”
Lisse wants to move ahead to the next step.
Zant then asked what I thought about it, and I agreed with her.
Though at the same time, I’m also fine with the road for the time being.
We have yet to get a passing grade on this, after all.
I’m not satisfied with my running just yet. I still have yet to learn how to make use of some of the scaffolding options available.
That said, I have noticed that my speed and running skills have improved dramatically when compared to when I started out. As long as I can see improvement, I don’t think it’s a waste to keep on running.
But because of our comments, Zant started his lecture on what being an assassin meant.
We were near the entrance of the road. I was sitting on a wooden stake that is used as scaffolding, Lisse was sitting on a rock, while Zant was leaning next to the entrance door.
He seemed to still have plenty of strength to spare. He surely has an amazing stamina, even if he’s horribly skinny.
“If you need strength, then you’re already in a situation where you’re on even ground with your opponent.
“A first-class assassin won’t let that happen. You’ll defeat your opponent on your own terms, not on theirs.
“Kill them without fighting. Unilaterally. Don’t let them even realize what happened.
“That’s what an assassin’s strength is all about.” Zant told us.
… How to say it… This seems more philosophical than practical?
“If that was possible, then nobody would ever struggle with anything.” Lissi commented.
I agree with her. I can’t do that, so I have to think of a way to get stronger.
Zant laughed at her reply, “I know. This is just an ideal. I can’t do it either.
“If there was ever an assassin like the one I just mentioned, then the world would have surely been unified by that person already.
“In short, the ideal assassin doesn’t exist. Neither in the past nor the present.”
I guess that makes sense. If an assassin could win without ever fighting, then that person could easily kill as many important people of as many countries as they wanted.
“However, I want you to aim towards reaching that ideal, even if it may seem impossible.
“Essentially, what I want to tell you, is that different types of strength exist.
“Will you seek out your own strength? Or the strength that can be applied to a wide range of people? From third-rate adventurers to the so-called heroes?
“Lisse, what kind of strength are you seeking?” Zant asked her.
“Strength that is second to none. No matter the method.” Lisse confidently replied.
“So you’re looking for a wide range of strengths and for your own strength too? Well, that much is normal.” Zant said.
“Eh?” Lisse seemed to be shocked by Zant’s reply.
However, I think he is right about that. It’s a normal way of seeking strength. I wouldn’t be surprised if most adventurers had the same mindset as Lisse has.
“What about you, boy? What kind of strength do you want?” Zant asked me next.
Me? Well… I have been thinking about it for a while, and there is one thing that I’ve noticed that I am severely lacking at.
“What is clear to me, is that I lack firepower.” I told him.
“Ooh?” Zant gave me an amused smile, “You use a bow, right? When you say you lack firepower, does that mean you want a way to kill stronger Demon Beasts?”
That’s the gist of it.
“As you said, I can already kill people. Killing people is easy.” I said.
Killing strong people is still hard, but I already have what is necessary for killing people.
Of course, even if I can do it, I don’t really want to. I’m still a hunter, not a killer.
However, my hunter skills aren’t enough to handle Demon Beasts.
Demon Beasts are strong. There are only a handful of them that I can beat.
Even the Ironhead that I encountered just before I arrived at this city. All that I could do was stealing one of its eyes.
I can’t hunt it with my skills.
And I don’t think this is something that can be solved by getting more skilled either. Because I’m unable to land a fatal blow no matter where I aim my arrow.
That’s because I have a fundamental lack of firepower.
“You’re noticing the limits caused by using a bow, then? You’re right. The power of a bow is limited by the bow itself.
“The wielder’s skill can increase its effectiveness, but there is still a fundamental limit on the firepower of a bow.” Zant commented.
That’s exactly it.
Due to the structure of the bow, there is a limit to how much power can be put behind an arrow.
No matter how skilled you are, you can’t put more power into your shot than what the bow can handle, otherwise it will break.
“So, you are trying to find a way to raise the firepower of your bow, is that it?” Zant asked me.
“Yes.” I nodded.
I have no intentions of giving up on the bow, but there are limits to the bow’s firepower. No matter how much I train my body, the bow will not become stronger.
In that case, I need to obtain firepower with different tools.
There are plenty of ways to do it. Poisoning, setting fire to arrowheads, using traps that make use of the environment, using specific tools on the right circumstances and so on.
“I can think of plenty of ways to do it. Do you want to hear about it?” Zant asked me.
I hesitated for a bit, but, “… Not yet.” I declined his offer.
I don’t think it’s time to discuss that yet.
Although I can’t help thinking about it right now, I know that our current focus should be on the road.
After we pass this stage, I can ask him about the method.
“Fine. Ask me when you’re ready then, boy.” Zant told me.
Normally, I would be thinking about and testing various things on my own, but… I’m currently enrolled on the assassin training school.
It would be a waste to throw away this precious time by worrying about things on my own.
So, I won’t hesitate and will ask people to teach me ideas, methods, or means that I can’t figure out on my own no matter how much I think about it.
It’s just that we didn’t reach the right moment yet.
“Alright, this should be enough of a break. Go again, kids.” As Zant told us that, me and Lisse started running through the road again.
It was three days after that, that we finally got a passing grade.