In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 104
"To think such young people could defeat Red Rank adventurers! How fascinating!" the King spoke up happily, clapping his huge palms in delayed congratulations. "Could it really have been only a couple of months since they began taking missions seriously? Alfred, Ellen has been training one of those young women, right? And the other one was training with your guards? You should be commended too!"
"Well for Miss Kokonoe, being Jubei's daughter, that is not unexpected. Being Jubei's daughter she would have been training for most of her life under the tutelage of someone who trained our greatest swordsman. As for young miss Linze Silhoueska, Ellen has only managed to give her three weekends of instruction."
"What about the other one?"
"Young miss Elze Silhoueska only spent two weekends beating up my guards. I mean" the Duke made a helpless gesture. "I guess even my own Captain of the Guards felt that it was too cruel to have her come around and terrify his men too often."
"Hmm. I suppose with Lady Monika's way with Sir Zah Playa, they would have plenty of practice training someone in a hurry up from nothing into someone well capable of protecting themselves."
The Duke nodded in agreement. The two were still fully convinced of their theory that Monika was periodically rewinding time for Playa and removing his memories as a way of pseudo-immortality so she doesn't end up alone.
"Are are they really that strong?" Yumina asked. The performance of the Xenovivi hirelings didn't really impress her much, nor the demeanor of their sworn lady. "The border is it really safe?" With those sorts of people?
"Ahahaha yes. Well. They certainly are eccentric."
"The strength of the Zeno March may be worrisome, their conduct even more so. But their loyalty is unquestionable," the Duke offered.
"You must remember, Yumina, that these are people who are expected to go above and beyond with their lives defending us from an all-out assault by Regulus. All other forces fight for glory, the one thing that they require is to have no fear whatsoever of death."
Yumina put her teacup down and gave a pinched look to her father. "I'm sorry but I'm reminded of something that Sir Zah said"
"No person, no matter how terrifyingly powerful, can change the world alone. Personal power inspires respect, and is a stepping stone to other forms of power, but ultimately it is a force multiplier. The role of the hero is to open the way to victory. Without those inspired by his example to follow behind, any war can only rush headlong to defeat."
"Well certainly that is something that is perfectly obvious," replied the Duke. "Though I suppose the death of a hero also impacts morale for the whole army as much as it inspires others to do better."
"And speaking of that," the King noted "you stopped before telling us how that odd young man dealt with his fight."
Yumina blinked. "Umm. He could have lost, you know?"
The Duke and the King leaned back. "That would be stupid," they both said at the same time.
"But that would be stupid enough that someone might think it was funny, so I can believe that could happen," said the Duke.
"Or he could be much weaker than he appears, but that doesn't matter because a good mind is a terrible thing to waste," said the King.
And then they spoke again at the same time like a pair of gossipy house-husbands "So tell us what happened!"
Yumina sighed. "And then Sir Zah said-"
"A hero is not just some random murderhobo. Likewise, a villain is not just anyone who seeks their own benefit at the expense of someone else. What separates them from powerful but ultimately mundane operators is how much others may be led to live by their example."
Sir Zah tugged at his white gloves, opening his fingers out near his face. First the left, then the right. "It is so easy for those with power to get entitled and completely lack boundaries. That is why I must apologize for holding your mistress in rude contempt when we first met and why her absurd over-reaction to disrespect is just bizarre."
And Miss Lydia responded "Please tell me you're not one of those idiots who try to cast with magic stones sewn to his fingertips. It's wildly inaccurate and eventually they get their hands blown off. There's a good reason why we put magic stones on the end of long sticks, you should know!"
Sir Zah paused. "Note to self: invest in metal finger caps."
"Oh gods!" Miss Lydia swore as she rolled her eyes up in disbelief. She looked towards Miss Elze and said to her "I envy you. I envy you so much. At least you are allowed to do something /to/ your burden."
Miss Elze cupped her palms over her mouth and shouted back "Beat his face in!"
"Do do your best!" Miss Linze added. "You you can do it! Maybe."
"Lydia-san, do not hold back. Punish him most severely if he tries to reserve his strength!" said Miss Yae.
"What even are you people, really?" Lady Zorah huffed. "Is he your Cynthia? Is it fun to see him lose?"
And then Miss Lydia turned back to Sir Zah and raised her round shield. At her waist instead of a sword and dagger, she had a sword and wand. "Come, show me by what rights you dare call yourself the ABSOLUTE MASTER of WIND MAGIC."
Sir Zah nodded and stood very straight up. He held his palms level up to his chest, and then seemed to push down towards the ground. He very visibly took a deep breath. Then he exhaled.
Deep breath. Then exhale.
The wind rushed in, making the treetops shake. Inhale.
The wind rushed out, rustling the leaves back. Exhale.
And it was at that point that Miss Lydia realized she might have made a little bit of a tactical error.
She began to chant "Come, Wind! Gust, break through-"
Sir Zah spoke out "Come Wind! Force of storms, gather in my palms-"
A sphere of compressed air that would hit with force equal to being run over by horse shot forth towards Sir Zah. He swung his arm down and WHAP.
He just slapped that attack out of the air.
Miss Lydia frowned. She readied herself and tried again. "Wind, penetrate! Spiraling spear blade, [Spiral Lance!]"
Yumina was told from her studies that the [Spiral Lance] was equal to the Fire spell [Burning Lance], the Light spell [Shining Javeling] or the Water spell [Aqua Cutter]. The elements of attack magic all had their equivalent for a "bullet" or a fast-moving blunt projectile and a "lance", a highly-penetrating blade. The [Burning Lance] was more feared because it explodes on the hit, but the [Spiral Lance] was faster and almost invisible.
Again, Sir Zah just slapped the attack out of the air.
"How are you even doing that?!" Miss Lydia said. It looked easy, but backhanding a magic attack out of the way was more difficult than it first appeared.
Magic attacks were fast. By the time the hand dropped, the attack should already have hit. That was why everyone used wands a little flick at the wrist, a big change at the tip.
Miss Lydia's eyes widened. "Wait, if you can do that, then you can also reach!" She quickly raised her shield up and braced herself.
She was suddenly flung to the side, as if a great invisible hand slapped her whole body. She flipped around in mid-air and rammed her shield into the ground, scraping and bleeding away her speed. She dropped back down to the ground and looked up warily.
"What is that spell? An invisible mobile barrier?" she hissed. "Like [Cyclone Wall]? Wind magic might be mostly invisible but it's not silent!"
Sir Zah smiled. "Something like that, yes."
He was always so silly and moving around showing his emotions with his body because his face was hard to read, but when he would just stand still and get serious it was eerie.
He waved with one hand and explained. "Your magic is a beautifully structured thing. You get as much out of it as you put in. No such thing as spell levels or ritual components or a limit to how many spells you can cast per day. No such thing as a mana bar, it all casts directly through stamina which makes a mage running and jumping around tiring themselves out uselessly ahead of time and reducing the spells they can cast."
He turned towards Miss Linze and saluted her before turning back towards Miss Lydia. "Which is of course why it is /so unexpected/ and a spellsword can be a very dangerous adversary."
Then he flicked out with his palm and there was a loud whipping noise. "The secret to this type of Wind Magic is not the generation of gusts and pressure, but the control of motion. Unlike Earth or Water magic, there is less need to summon the elemental forms because air is always all around us. Everything is always in motion, not just the wind but the trees and the rocks and even even the earth beneath our feet.The [Heavy Wind] is a counterspell it is the negation of motion. A [Heavy Wind] fixes itself in space."
Miss Lydia scowled. It was clear she didn't get much out of that explanation. That did not explain how the air slap could push her away. Unlike [Air Impact], she didn't feel any force. Could he make things weightless? Was it a hard vacuum? As a Wind Magic user herself, she wondered what strange lost magics Sir Zah knew from his distant country.
"It is said that that the beginner practices the basics to defend themselves, the novice seeks the one winning move, the expert has an arsenal of techniques for the right moment, but in the hands of the master the basics become the unbeatable killing stroke," Miss Lydia said reluctantly.
Then she shook her head and scowled. "But this is not enough. I'm not convinced."
Yumina felt her fists clench in sympathy as the Zenovi bodyguard readied herself again.
"Wind prevent! Silence visits, [Mute]!"
Yumina blinked. While strictly speaking, it was not necessary to speak the words of a magic spell, it was necessary to at least /say it/. A magic caster must be able to hear themselves. Trying to cast a spell without at least the motions of speaking drained much more magic power. Wandless, voiceless spellcasting was not a sign of true mastery, but something much more inefficient done in an emergency.
The [Mute] spell created an area of no sound, usually centered around the caster. It was not a stealth spell because the area was immobile.
Miss Lydia cast the spell not around Sir Zah, but herself. She held her shield up to cover the lower half of her face, and so now no one could have any idea of what spell she was going to cast next in this magic duel.
She cast a series of fast air bullets, [Air Hammers], the equivalent to the fire spell [Dancing Flames]. If Sir Zah was going to slap magic attacks out of the air, obviously the tactic is to overwhelm his defense.
Yumina squinted in disapproval. But then wouldn't the obvious response to shift to a simple wall defense?
Then Miss Lydia reached out and struck at her shield with her reinforced wand head. A loud reverberating sound rang out, and everyone felt their brains shake in their head. Yumina felt dizzy and about to vomit all of a sudden. This was the [Quivering Tone], her unique personal Null magic.
Sir Zah fliched, for it seemed the [Tone] hit him the hardest. He put his hand up over his mouth, and then the spread of [Air Hammers] hit his body.
He staggered, but didn't fall. He was bent over backwards almost in a U shape, but a pillar of air slowly pushed him back up to his feet. He touched the side of his neck with his thumb and cast [Soothing Vibrations].
Then he grinned. "So we're fighting with sound now? Good. Good."
Miss Elze palmed her face. "Don't sing, Playa. Just don't. You spoony bard."
Miss Linze giggled. "I'm always interested in hearing more things from Mister Zah's homeland."
Sir Zah stood up straight and shook his head sadly. He took a deep breath in. The air rushed in through the clearing. A deep breath out. The wind rushed back away, sliding around and tugging at everyone's garments. And he said "A hero inspires others to follow his example. I can never be a hero. Today I am once again Alone in the Wind (1)"
Sir Zah clapped his hands together.
And slowly he drew his palms apart. And lightning crackled between his hands.
And the lightning began to SCREAM.