In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 100
The two young magic fighters faced each other all the way across the ring. Linze raised her wand even as Sarah raised her orb-tipped staff. Linze took a step to the side trying to circle around and Sarah matched her by stepping to the left.
They began to circle around, waiting for the other to begin. Unlike fighting with weapons or fists, in magic duels it was casting speed and power expenditure that was most important.
If you only had a single strong affinity, then it was fine cast whatever you want immediately, it's not like you have any other option. But if you and your opponent have multiple affinities, then certain spells are simply more efficient against other spells. Wind, for example, is much faster than Earth but almost useless to stop Fire. Water had flexibility, with liquid or solid attacks, but lacked true speed or explosive power.
The first person to call out their element like "Come forth, [Water!]" would have a small disadvantage.
There was also how unlike fighting with blades, which could be done with dulled training blades or to relatively harmless first blood, magic always had the risk of being godawful lethal.
Linze waited silently. This affinity matching issue was not a factor in her duel with Charlotte, because the Court Magician massively outmatched her in skill and power. Unfortunately, Sarah was just as cautious and did not underestimate Linze at all.
She had the patience of someone who knew her place in the world, and that stepping outside of it would cause pain. Being proactive had too much risk of being hurt, being notable was detestable, one always had to cling to those with power in order to feel safe.
(" I do not despise commoners. In many ways, Sarah is proof that any commoner can rise to become better, more productive, once they shed the fetters of laziness, the blinders of their ignorance, and learn their true place in the world.")
("So there is some room for social mobility in your human pyramid scheme after all. Can't even commoners become nobles too, as the King might reward? That's why I don't find this divide between nobles and commoners too important it is only a pity that nobles can't lose their status from being useless sacks of flesh.")
("Ugh. I cannot dispute that. That vexes me as well. Those of us who wish to live to the standards of our noble blood are debased by those people.")
("I have no inherent objection to the system of nobility, and heck, if you want to think us Adventurers are honorless unscrupulous people I am fine with that, because at some level that's what we accept for our mercenary freedom. But even the King can't so easily scold a noble for misbehaving. There is no easy system to punish crimes against the smallfolk. If you just kill people, it's a pain in the ass to replace them. If you let them get away with this, they're just going to get even more shameless about their shittiness.")
And that was why democracy was the worst of all systems, except for all others that have been tried. At the very least, a system of appointees was better than any inherented post. Constitutional monarchy for the win, maybe?
("Kindness without power will only be trampled upon. Power in the hands of the unworthy destroys the peace. But commoners who have false ideas about their station are more dangerous than nobles.")
("I can't dispute that either, we could go full Bolshevik here if things get really bad. Nobles should know their place too, that swords can't make bread. Fealty is owed for protection, that is the reason why they are raised high in the first place.
("And on that note, I'm seeing a pattern here. In what way did you help Sarah into your service?")
It was easy to see how much Linze and Sarah were similar and how much they differed in their common features.
Linze had a broad face with kissable lips framed well by her short hair that urged you to torment her a little bit and watch her cutely moan for mercy. Sarah had ample curves in all the right places and her long braided hair made her bosoms look disproportionately large for her height. Her clothes were similar to farmer attire but the deep blue of her leather corset emphasized the swell of her breasts and the shortness of her skirt. Her braided pigtails bounced with every step.
She looked so soft that you were tempted to just grab ahold of her until she squealed.
But her eyes had no such softness. She had the implacable calm of slaughterer.
("Is it not obvious? She was desired by a petty lord, and normally that would be the end of it. As a woman myself I find it execrable, but this is the way of the world, and the life of a bastard child is a pitiful one. But this lord had a reputation for breaking and killing his women one he grows bored of them, and so Sarah decided to flee instead.")
("Jesus Christ the people in this kingdom. I have a feeling the only reason the King didn't start purging without a good excuse was that if he started with killing his asshole nobles he'd never be able to stop
("That is horrible. But that aside, talented people are valuable to the whole fief too! Three affinity magic, that's Ugh.")
("There are only two reasons a man might desire a strong woman. The first is to dominate her. The second is to bear strong children. But if it is not the second, then the more precious and beautiful a thing is the more powerful is the feeling of destroying it.")
("I really wish I could say I didn't understand why such people even exist but that would be lying. And then what happened? So did you happen to help her escape?")
("Her father and brothers were tortured and killed while she was away. Their bodies were hung outside their village as an example.")
("I see. Damn. Like the wannabe xianxia edgelord protagonist you are, I am really hoping you did something about that lord. If it is too politically inconvenient even for you, well some people might have some free time and invisibility magic.")
("Hah! Why should I confess anything to you?! You suspicious person roaming around the inner court!")
("Heh. Fair enough. Don't give me anything that can be used against you.")
And really that was the reason why the Xenovivi family could get away with so much shite in this kingdom. They were the King's wolves on the border. Because for all that they were annoying, they were also capable of some deep skullduggery. If anything, their brash behavior lead many to think they were just too dumb for such things.
("Your girl stands no chance. Sarah Lanyard has tasted the need for power, but if she had just gone alone she would have just died uselessly. They would have played with her until she turned into a mindless sow and threw her body out into the fields. Is it not a better place in the world to be my weapon against all those who wreak evil?")
It was Linze who lost her patience first, and cast "Come forth, [Water!] A frozen field! [Ice Pillars!]"
At the same time, Sarah cast "Come forth, [Water!] Obscuring mist! [Call Fog!]"
So their opening moves were mutually to remove line of sight. Smart, because that was how magic aiming worked. Bad, because now how does one attack?
Both of them used this time to call up independent attack magic. "[Dancing Flames!]" for Linze and "[Brilliant Pebbles!]" for Sarah. Dancing Flames created hovering fireballs, while Brilliant Pebbles threw out little stones that acted like landmines.
Linze ran and struck at the ice pillars that she put up to cover the field. The Piercing Flames exploded against the ice pillars, turning them into flying shrapnel. Sarah gave out a staggered "Eeek!" from behind the fog.
"Come forth, Water. Frozen cover, [Ice Sheet]!"
She couldn't just approach because the [Brilliant Pebbles] were hard to see through the fog. But by freezing the ground in front of her, the small explosions could be much reduced. The piercing flames of the [Dancing Flames] had speed and potency but were limited to three shots, but while destroying one's footing was about as much you could expect from [Brilliant Pebbles] magic-users typically didn't wear armor and many shins would hurt.
But a support spell like that wasn't a spell that was spent making Sarah keep her head down.
"[Earth Needle Wave!]"
Linze didn't have a Wind affinity, she couldn't just blow the obscuring mist away. She ducked behind an ice pillar.
"I'm sorry about this" Sarah's voice came out from the gloom. "But this is no game. I'm going to try not to hurt you too badly, but milady is right. The world is not kind and you need to know whom you can trust.")
Ice blades shot forth from the left while Sarah's voice came from the right. Linze ducked and slid down the ice sheet she'd laid onto the ground.
("This is kinda boring, we can't really see much of anything. We can see Linze somewhat, but her opponent's hiding as much as being inside a fighting ring is possible.")
("Hey, Playa isn't it odd? This sort of magic, it doesn't look like battlefield magic. It looks like fit for, um, assassination? But somehow, I think, that makes me feel better about things?")
("Heh. You know, this would probably be a lot more unnerving if Linze didn't already know how to fight someone who didn't need to use their eyes.")
"Come forth, Water! Cover me in majesty! [Water Cloak!] [Water Sense!]" Linze yelled.
Water fountained out from behind her back like a pair of wings. Then she chanted again "Come forth, [Water!] A frozen field! [Ice Pillars!]" but then began to jump from pillar to pillar, with her [Water Cloak] flapping behind her allowing her to double-jump.
The ice pillar she was standing on rose higher and higher as she fed its growth with [Freezing].
Linze jumped off the pillar and towards where the pair of fire bolts came from in the fog. "Small Spiral Barrier! [Aqua Shield]!"
The fire bolts were deflected away and slowed her descent. Then she changed her grip on her wand. "Come, weapon of ice and light! [Chill Saber!]"
Fssh-crink. The top of her wand froze up and a long shining ice blade extended out from the tip. It shone from within with a cold blue light.
Linze dived into the fog and soon there was only the clanging sounds of metal upon unnaturally resilient ice. Magicians as a rule did not like to go into melee. Linze was just another squishy mage.
And that was unacceptable.
Absolutely no one expects to face Wing Gundam Linzero.
("Wait can it be are they actually somehow evenly matched?")
("Well mistress, it's not like the Adventurer ranks are power levels. It only shows the number of missions completed and the difficulty of missions survived. Sarah already did well being Red rank at only twenty years old.")
("Sarah knows staff fighting. She'll be fine. I think.")
("Damnation, what are these vicious girls? Where did they come from?")
("Uh the Refreese Imperium?")
("Heh. Someone who speaks that people are not born equal should have expected this. Talent and training and temperament create a variety of outcomes. Equality of opportunity, because it is our differences and talents that make life interesting. There is no inherent fairness in the world, except for what we make of it.")
This fight would not be won by whoever had more magic power or skill in casting. It would be a matter of whose passions rang stronger.
Was it Sarah, who was willing to give her life in the service of her savior's justice?
Was it Linze, who was willing to give her life in the name of unreasonable love?