In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 105
Sir Zah pushed out with his right hand, index and middle finger out, and the lightning traveled out following the path to slam against Miss Lydia's shield. Her shield was mainly wood with a metal rim with a metal core. Fortunately it had a wooden handle and leather straps. The lightning crawled and buzzed like a writhing white snake.
"That's not fighting with sound, that's fighting with LIGHTNING, you misleading clod!" Miss Elze protested loudly.
And Sir Zah responded "Come, Wind. Lightning, shout. The voice of the thunder god, [Zeusaphone]!"
And then the lightning began to weep.
The lightning on Sir Zah's left hand arced to the ground and gave out a sustained bass line. The one from on his right kept pinging on Miss Lydia's shield.
Yumina could see his being shining from within. And then as the impossible music switched to something more upbeat, his true self contracted.
"And this is MY [FINAL COUNTDOWN]!" Sir Zah screamed into the wind. (1)
The lightning pulsed with an impossible chirping music. From out of nowhere, brass horns seemed to sound. Strings wove in and out of the harmony. Lightning flashed in and out of existence in grasping tendrils. How could it be possible!
Such a variety of sound, an invisible orchestra if there was the music of the gods, then surely this was it!
With only lightning
It was vaguely possible, thunder comes after lightning. As a user of Wind magic herself, Yumina was taught by Miss Charlotte that thunder was the sound of lightning passing through the air so wickedly fast that it just breaks apart. The same reason that whip cracks happen, or if you wave your had very very fast you could hear the woosh of wind. Sound was just Wind in motion after all.
[Chain Lightning] produced sound like *crack!* *crack!* *crack!*, Yumina heard that before.
But to know that lightning could produce sound was one thing, this was another thing entirely!
If this was the music of the gods themselves, this was either a miracle or a terrible blasphemy. It was sheer madness given form.
Miss Lydia could only cower under the repeated lightning strikes. Until, finally, with one resonant blow of the impossible celestial horn the musical assault stopped.
She dropped down, flat on her buttocks. She breathed heavily. She looked up with a shadowed gaze and winced. "I concede. I was wrong." She winced as she massaged the shoulder of her shield arm. "To make lightning itself sing much much more than just a powerful magic attack, if there was anything that could prove ABSOLUTE MASTERY of Wind magic, that would be it."
"Thanks!" Sir Zah grinned and approached with a hand out to help her back to her feet. Miss Lydia flinched. Sir Zah stopped, and his grin dropped. He stood there, and Yumina could see his secret regret.
And then Miss Elze shouted from behind him "DANG IT PLAYA! If you could do this, why are you bothering with fried chickens! That- that was awesome! Go put on a show or something! You would so famous! Rake in the gold, you lightning kook!"
Sir Zah sharply turned back and retorted "No way! A franchise is technically in the rentals business, not the business of selling food! A performance can only be in one place at the same time! Passive income is still better than pointless fame. It's a hassle to be too well-known, you'll never get time to yourself again!"
And beside her, Yumina heard Mister Zanac snort. And then that turned into full-blown snicker. "Well, that's certainly Sir Playa for you. He has his own priorities."
If Sir Zah could have such unsurpassed control over Lightning to make it sing, [Chain Lightning] was surely an amateur's trick to him. And [Chain Lightning] was already known as the equal to [Fire Ball], capable of wiping out whole formations of armored soldiers.
But the fear was gone.
Once again, Yumina was struck with the brilliance of presenting oneself as being just some fried chicken-obsessed lunatic.
"Pardon me, father, but is that why the Zenovivi family is so eccentric? If they act so foolish, does it disarm people from remembering how dangerous they could be?"
"In the past, that was almost certainly the reason. Remember, the Zenovivi family are Regulus /defectors/. They became Belfast high nobility by taking sides against their birth country, though they had legimate grievances against Regulus Emperor before that. So that is why they are known today for their total loyalty to the crown, the unwillingness to meddle in anything unrelated to the border, and the sheer folly of involving such unpredictable people in any schemes."
And then the King mused "But actually, we really should try some of his chicken at some point. Is it really any good, Alfred?"
"I wouldn't say it's the best chicken in the world but it certainly has its own unique flavor. Sir Zah has been terribly convincing that fried chicken and chess belong together, and I am quite afraid that I will get fat."
"That makes no sense, wouldn't the grease from the hands get all over the chess pieces? It would be disastrous if your fingers slipped and forced a wrong move."
"Chess is a game you can play with one hand, you know. More significant is if the feeling of satiety has any blunting effect on your concentration."
Yumina sighed. It was still working. Maybe she should consider having her own weird hobby?
Frankly she didn't know what they were so scared about. It's not like there was any dignity of the crown to impact. Sir Zah had a strangely familiar conduct.
After some time, the royal brothers stopped their derail and asked her to continue.
"I concede" Lady Zorah said without any lingering heat. "It was a clean sweep. I recognize your strength and why these girls follow you. However, that will not save you if you harm one hair on Zanac's head!"
"Zorah, that is enough." Mister Zanac's voice was uncharacteristically firm. "Sir Zah is my friend. I trust him."
"F-fine. Ugh. Have it your way, it doesn't matter if you come crying to me later." She turned around and muttered to herself. "I don't understand we have all worked so hard. We have to be strong to defend the whole country. They must fear crossing the Zenovi. How could we be inferior? Am I inferior? If we fail again when the moment comes this is unacceptable! Unacceptable!"
She glared hotly at her own guards. Miss Mynah gave an eloquent 'meh' of a shrug. Miss Sarah cowered tearfully at her disappointment. Miss Cynthia leered back in return. And Miss Lydia just sighed, and looked past her mistress' head to stare at Sir Zah, silently asking him to say something.
Sir Zah tilted his head aside in confusion.
Miss Lydia frowned and began to waggle her eyebrows.
Sir Zah sighed and coughed into his fist to draw attention. "You're not inferior. As long as you have an honest heart and wish to do good, as long as work hard, you're going to be the best around." He spoke evenly and with utter conviction. "Nothing's going to keep you down. You have the eye of the tiger, the thrill of the fight."
Lady Zorah put her arms behind her back and fidgeted shyly in place. "R-really..?"
"I don't think this is the end of it. What would Zorah Zornea Zenovivi be, if she doesn't rise up to the challenge of her rival?"
Lady Zorah looked up, and her demeanor just quivered with an eager sort of tautness. "A rival? Really? You mean it? Someone like you dares to think he's my equal?"
Sir Zah licked his lips and considered his next words. He tilted his head to the side, a sign that to those who knew his habits that he was silently conversing with Lady Monika.
Then he huffed and gave a sad smile. "There is a theory that great leaders display a certain 'weight', drawing people into them. They become an axis around which others rotate. And when two such personalities meet, they are strongly attracted to each other's weight so much that they crash and rebound.
"You and I, we will probably never be close friends. We are similar enough that our differences are all too compelling. Think of a wheel. One wheel makes a wheelbarrow. There's only so much a single person can move with it. But two wheels, becomes an ox-drawn cart and can carry a much heavier load.
"It is pointless for two wheels to be placed so close together. You have your duties at the border. I have my missions for the King. But it is enough to know that the other exists, and a whole kingdom may now move with a powerful purpose."
He smiled gently and spoke in such a throaty whisper that it made Elze and Yumina blush. "In the end, I think, we are no so different. I've been thinking you lot are some interesting people. You're all strong. And you have been raising flags all over the place, so at least for Zanac's sake, I am worried."
Sir Zah reached into his pouch. "And with that in mind, I have something for you." As one, Lady Zorah's four ladyguards tilted around their mistress, curious to see what he was talking about. And then they all squealed with glee.
He took out a studded leather collar? Like for war dogs? Yumina frowned minutely in confusion.
Why were the others so excited?
"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!"
"Mistress! How lucky!"
"This is a strong commitment. I approve."
Even Mister Zanac spoke up in an amazed pitch "Sir Playa! How did you know?!"
Sir Zah's facial expressions were hard to see, but the mischievious quirk in his lips told it all. "Take care of yourselves well. You have your duties in defense of Belfast. You should beware showing yourself to me again for petty reasons if you are not ready for the consequences."
Lady Zorah leaped backwards and pointed a shaky finger out at him. She screeched "You you YOU SCOUNDREL! I was right! You are a total degenerate after all!"
"I was wondering why you were going around picking fights with random people. Unfortunately, I am sorry, I have no time for a goddamn tsundere."
"You will not tempt me into your bevy of wives, you ruffian!" Zorah screeched.
"Yes, how dare you try to attempt to go where no man has gone before," spoke up one of the guards behind her.
"Even though plenty of women have already been there."
"LIES!" Zorah screamed. "ALL LIES!"
If Zorah was as concerned with saving face as she appeared, these people would already have their tongues pulled out. Sir Zah's body language showed that he was wondering if they had some epic levels of blackmail, if for some reason these hirelings actually despised their superior this much, or if really this was just their way of showing affection.
Mister Zanac began laughing. He was laughing so hard he ended up falling and clutching his belly in pain. But he couldn't stop laughing.
"You you! I DESPISE YOU ALL!" Lady Zorah raised a shaking fist. "We are done here!" She turned around and tried to walk away as fast as she could without making it look like she was fleeing.
Her guards chased after her. "Mistress, wait! The carriage is the other way!"
And so Zorah Zornea Zenovivi left their lives just as quickly as she had appeared.
The King and the Duke stared at Yumina.
"I am reconsidering placing you in the care of such a man," the King huffed after a whole.
"What? Why?" Yumina asked, confused. "He's not a bad person."
"I can't explain. Alfred?"
"Don't worry about it, Tristwin. It's probably just a joke. And you know it's all different in the world of consenting adults." He turned towards Yumina and asked "What did he say he would be teaching you?"
Something that Miss Charlotte should not know about? At least not yet, because no one's heart was prepared for that? Impossible new magics could lead a man to a truly terrible fate.
"Well at least that's done," Sir Zah sighed. He waved one final goodbye to Zanac as they too made their way home.
"You are all quite strong," said Yumina. She looked crestfallen. She compared herself again to her younger cousin. Her advantage compared to Sue was that she knew attack magic, but she was just so much weaker than everyone else. "You're all amazing."
She felt Sir Zah's hand drop on top of her head and fluff her blond hair. "Heh, and what makes you think you're not going to be pulling your own weight? The reason why we've gone so far is from cross-skill training. You can only go so far with people of your own skill level.
"But Linze strongly benefited from unconventional magic, and physical combat with such a skilled swordswoman as Yae. Who contrariwise had little practical experience fighting against magicians. And Elze's brute strength needed precision and a more long-term strategy. And if I had been challenged on swordsmanship, I'd have lost.
"That woman was so obsessed with one's place in the world, but here there is a place for everyone. As a franchise owner, the word I operate with is "niche". A specialization for a specific need is always valuable. Don't worry about it, Princess. I may be the absolute master of Wind magic, but I don't know a lick about Dark magic."
"Um, but don't you also have a [Dark] affinity, Mister Zah?" asked Miss Linze.
"I have a lot to learn."
Yumina frowned slightly. But wouldn't him learning all the Dark Magic that she knew just make her redundant? She would learn his Wind magic, but she had no illusions of ever becoming his equal there.
Then she thought about it Dark Magic was all about summoning and curses. The Lizardmen that attacked Sue were called by a Dark Magic spell. Summoning spells were nicely multiplicative two portals with two summons meant the difference between, say ten extra bodies on the field or twenty. Two extra monster beasts could protect left and right, instead of just one more combatant for distraction purposes.
She nodded to herself, satisfied. She had a place here. That was fine.
"Then we should be grateful. I would really like to thank him again. It's a pity he decided not to enter the Palace," the King sighed. They just dropped Yumina down at the doorstep of the Palace and then skedaddled swiftly. "We will see them again when the delegation is ready to leave, at least."
"It's actually somewhat no, it /is/ rude to reject an invitation by royalty," said the Duke. "It's also a powerful enough statement that Sir Zah can refuse so blatantly and not cause offense. Are we offended, Tristwin?"
"No, of course not."
"Well I am offended, because he still owes me a rematch!" the Duke of Ortlinde growled. He had become quite obsessed with chess and one could only really grow stronger by challenging stronger players.
He would have even gone all the way to Reflet to challenge Sir Zah Playa's chess salon, if only the other strongest player there Mister Dolan had not gone away to Mismede too.
"Um. From what I have observed Sir Zah has a problem with being thanked so effusively. I mean no offense, father but he has saved your life, and we are forever in his debt. But it's not that he considers it an insignificant thing, it's just that he needs only to be thanked once. Also the others might be uncomfortable being in the presence of royalty."
"Are you still hiding your identity?"
"No, it would not be good for team cohesion to keep secrets. But as a team, to be a princess is irrelevant. We have our comraderie more important than any social differences. As long as I am part of the party, I am the youngest and the last in command."
The Duke leaned back in his chair and gave a relaxed sigh. "Well at least he's not visiting me at my house now. If he's just walking and shopping around the city, it's not my problem anymore if-"
And then there was heavy knocking on the door to the private tea room. "Come in," the King said.
One of the Royal Guards hurried inside and spoke up "Your Majesty! There is a problem! Those people you asked us to keep an eye on we just received word, there's been an incident!"
"What?! What happened?!"
Everyone stood up in panic. Thoughts of Zah Playa doing everything from offending a noble to being under arrest to open fighting and rioting in the city.
"There's Living Armors running amuck in the West District!"
Yumina blinked. Living Armor? Weren't those the undead monster beasts born of the lingering feelings of people who died leaving heavy regrets? And wasn't the West District the wealthy residences?
The Duke of Ortlinde sat back down and closed his eyes and gave a slow shuddering sigh. "Nothing broken /in/ my house not my problem."