With an STR score of 45, the next monster I used Slash on died in one hit. A good result, but I don’t want to use any more Bonus Points than it is absolutely necessary, so I might try lowering the STR value quite a bit before the next random encounter. If I want to min/max my stats, I have to figure out the exact number of points placed in STR to know how much should be enough to both one-shot the enemies and still have many points to spare for other abilities, so for the next battle I will lower my STR to 13 points and we’ll see how this goes.
Okay, I can say that the result was not ideal, but it wasn’t all that terrible either. With my STR at 13 the Needlewood survived the initial slash, meaning that I must have lowered my stats a bit too much. Thankfully, that’s what Roxanne is here for. When I finished my attack she immediately jumped into action and showered The Needlewood with attack after attack without giving it time to breathe (or whatever it is that trees are doing). One of its branch attacks was faster and more unpredictable than the others, so I thought she was going to get hit by it, but she avoided it at the last possible second by leaning forward and slightly to the side. That move! That right there was the same maneuver that boxers back in my old world were using when they wanted to avoid their opponent’s punch and launch a counterattack right afterwards! I think it is actually called a duck. Using her body flow to its fullest extent, she moved and dodged around the monster with a combination of both grace and deadly accuracy. Using the opportunity she created for me, I swung Fragarach at the monster when its back were turned against me, ending the battle.
「I should have expected nothing less from you, Roxanne. Your movements just now were amazing. Thank you for your continued support.」
「Yes, just leave it all to me, master!」
「I thought about it ever since I first saw you fighting, but you are quite strong, aren’t you, Roxanne?」
「Thank you for the kind words, but I think that someone who kills monsters with a single blow is even more amazing.」
I’m happy that she thinks of me that way, but the entirety of my strength comes from my sword, not from myself. But that’s okay, there’s no need to be telling her that just yet, or ever. Next, I did another Character Reset to increase my STR by a few points so that I could kill Needlewoods with one attack with Fragarach. For a number of next encounters, I was gradually increasing my STR, trying to find that 「sweet spot」 that would get me what I was looking for. Every time when my stats weren’t enough, Roxanne was there to finish the job for me.
「Alright Roxanne, listen up. Next time we run into a monster, I’m going to try to defeat it with my bare hands, and if that won’t do anything we’ll call it a day and go back to the inn.」
With my current settings I should be able to damage the next Needlewood just enough not to kill but at the same time literally leave it at death’s door. I have a good feeling about this. This time everything should work out, and there is no more room for mistakes.
The next Needlewood that came at us was slashed by my Fragarach, but it didn’t die. All right, so far, so good. Now for the next step. I took a step back, unequipped Fragarach and placed it against the nearby wall. All this time, Roxanne was covering me up by dodging the swings of its arms as she danced around it. Then she proceeded to go on the offensive.
Roxanne punched it with her right fist, and lightly backstepped whenever one of the branches threatened to hit her. It tried to strike her shoulder but it missed, and as a result, its trunk swayed. When it got its shit together it tried to do another strike from the right but Roxanne avoided it once more, dashing straight back in front of it and making it eat a good ol’ one-two combo and dodging it by half a step to the side. This exchange of dodge and hit continued for a while.
It was spectacular. All I could do was to simply stare in amazement at what was happening right in front of me.
Roxanne avoided each and every one of the Needlewood’s attacks. None of it was even close to reaching her. From where I stood, it looked like it wasn’t even trying to hit her. Not only she makes it look like all of those branch swings are easy to avoid, but she’s also doing it by the paper length, the literal skin of her teeth. The distance between the enemy’s bushy fists and her body could be measured in centimeters, if not in millimeters.
At a glance it looks like she is constantly in a pinch, but it is actually the opposite.
The Needlewoods are rather big and somewhat slow, and that makes their attacks methodical and easy to predict. It also means that they wouldn’t be able to dodge swift and agile attacks even if their lives depended on it. But that is how battle works. If you can clearly read your opponent’s moves, it is generally better to dodge them at the last possible moment for maximum effectiveness.
All of Roxanne’s movements were exactly like that. The way she moved her feet and twisted her body… it was just like she was dancing on the battlefield. Compared to her, the Needlewood’s attacks are all just so… monotonous. I mean, what can you expect? It is just an oversized moving bush that can punch people, if you think about it. But this is a perfect moment for me to strike! I will also hit it now!
Right now, the Needlewood is sandwiched between me and Roxanne from the back and front, and to its sides are the Labyrinth’s walls. It literally has nowhere to run. I slammed my fist against its bark, but did that really do any damage?
A branch was swung towards me from the left, so I dodged it by imitating Roxanne’s movements, and what do you know, somehow it worked. Then another branch went flying towards me from the opposite direction, which I avoided by twisting my upper body to the side. Now that it has left itself wide open, it was the time for me to strike!
My next two blows connected, and I avoided the counterstrike by pulling my body away from it, going back a few steps because of the momentum that carried me backwards. That was a close one. For a moment there I thought I fucked up, which would suck after I made such bold declarations.
On the other hand, Roxanne continued to brilliantly dodge the Needlewood’s clumsy attacks. The more I watched her, the more I understood that moving the way she moved was simply impossible for me. No matter how hard I’d try, I cannot move as nimbly as she does, which would really come in handy now that I do not have a sword, which forces me to be withing the monster’s arm’s reach all the time, making me work my ass off quite a lot, so being able to dodge properly would take at least a bit of the pressure away from me. A damn shame, really.
Moreover, Roxanne’s punches were way faster than mine.
Using my rage and frustration as a catalyst, I dashed forward. First I threw a kick at it, and then followed up with a punch. When I was done, a branch was already coming my way. At this distance, there’s no way for me to dodge it, so the only option left… id for me to put my everything into this next straight punch and push through with brute force alone!
With the impact of my fury-filled blow, the Needlewood’s entire body shook. After a few seconds, it collapsed on the ground behind it.
Fucking… finally! It took like, forever, but we finally managed to beat it with our fists only. In this battle to the death, I was the one who emerged victorious. Of course, it was a death battle only for me, because Roxanne wasn’t hit once throughout the entire encounter.
The monster turned into smoke and disappeared.
Almost immediately after it was felled I checked my own status. How was that, game? Good enough to finally get myself that Monk Job?
Well, apparently it still wasn’t enough, because I still didn’t have it. So what, all that unarmed brawling I just did was for nothing? No, let’s not get all pessimistic just yet. I’ll try checking the Party Job Settings next and search through Roxanne’s Jobs. Now, let’s see here… Beast Warrior Lv.6, Villager Lv.8, Farmer Lv.1, Warrior Lv.1, Swordsman Lv.1, Explorer Lv.1, Monk Lv.1 …
Oh, would you look at that. Roxanne got it.