In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 87
The Lady Monika.
Sue had only been able to tell Yumina a little of Sir Zah Playa's companion. Sue did warn her that Sir Zah's whole reason for being in Belfast is to look for magic that could give her back a real body.
Dark. Dark. Dark. Dark.
Suddenly the excuse that "Belfast allows polygamous marriages" didn't feel so valid on the tip of her tongue. Her Mystic Eyes and her normal vision could almost see the same thing, a strange deep and dark shadow cast from a shimmering light from below. Dark serpentine coils writhed in the ceiling.
Yumina could discern the difference between the darkness of personality and the darkness of sin and guilt. And there were certainly a lot of sins there. It was a thick cloying darkness, leeching out from the shadows cast by the light of the mortal world. With Mystic Eyes she stared out, and in return she felt like a [Third Eye] was open.
Staring back at her.
Without malice. Without hope. Without joy. Without fear. Devoid of rationality. A screaming yet silent darkness.
And regret. So much regret.
Monika stalked around the table, her steps failing to touch the floor. She had a sweet but fixed smile on her lips and her bright colorless stare met Yumina's own blue and green.
Emptiness. Nothing but emptiness.
Fake. Fake. Fake. Fake.
"Lady Monika!" her father cried out. "Please-"
Lady Monika flicked her hair back and said /"Player, set me up a sound stage."/
Playa tilted his head quizzically to the side, and then then shrugged. He gestured and said "Come forth, Dark; Come forth, Wind, [Enveloping Darkness], [Soundless Wall]."
And then there was only darkness. A thick muffling fog descended upon the room. Only Lady Monika's bright presence gave any light to the gloom.
/"Not greed. Not fear. Not even lust. Really, how curious it was not for any of those things, to bind our power to this kingdom or to your self, that you said it,"/ said Monika. She weaved past the chairs until she was almost face to face with the young Princess.
/"You know that no matter the era, it's not so easy to be a woman. Men like to play with willing women, but look down upon a woman that is too willing."/
Her touch tracing across Yumina's cheeks was cold and sharp, a taut construct of ionically charged particles. /"So what could possibly motivate a young lady like you to be so daring?"/
(Meanwhile, Playa was standing half-crouched with his arms outstretched to either side.)
("Sir Zah Playa, what are you doing?" asked the King.)
("Ssh! Their vision is based on movement! If you hold still and stay quiet, maybe after a while the danger will pass!")
("Oh! Good idea!" The King swiftly bent down and imitated his pose.)
("Whose vision is based on what now?!" the Queen hissed icily.)
Monika leaned back, and then leaned forward almost as if she wanted to knock heads with Yumina. Then with another sound of breaking glass, she exploded into living color.
Now her eyes were a blazing royal green. There was a slight [Boom] and a hot bright light hovered over Yumina.
And she asked /"WHO are you? WHAT do you want?"/
"Um" She collapsed back to her seat and bowed deeply. "I am Yumina Erneas Belfast. I am sorry, please forgive me if I said something that was improper. I mean my intent was only it was just in the heat of the moment. "
Yumina, with her head bowed, frowned at herself. She had miscalculated. Badly. Should she retract what she had said? It would of course be very bad to pursue someone already claimed. But
At this point, she could do with more information. Something noncommittal, but still with useful implications?
"Lady Monika, pray hear me out. Please forgive this besotted little Yumina," the Princess bowed again. "For what you have done to save my father's life, I can only repay you with my own life"
Monika shrugged it off entirely and asked again /"WHO are you? WHAT do you want?"/
("Monika, those are some POWERFUL questions you're asking there. Is this really the time?")
Monika floated there. Staring. Her face was placid and open and accepting all things. No judgments whatsoever. Yet all the more insistent on an answer, any answer.
Yumina racked her brains for the proper response. Her Mystic Eyes were useless here. She could not get a reading off this spirit at all.
Her own true self was being examined here, it was a very strange feeling to get that in return.
Yumina took a deep breath. She had done no harm, she had nothing to fear.
"I am Yumina. Erneas. Belfast," Yumina spoke after a while. "I want I just wanted to be married well, is that so much to ask? I mean, nothing happened yet. If my words have offended you, I apologize and re.. re"
Retract them. Just say it, Yumina!
She screamed silently at herself. What do you want to fight about here? Do you think your magic is a match for a spirit? Why would you be so STUPID as to provoke the people that saved your father's life?!
Looking down. Under her feet there was nothing but shadows. Darkness enough to sink in, like the depths of a lost sea.
Monika spoke again. /"WHO. Are You?"/ Her words echoed in the room. /"WHAT. Do you Want?"/
Yumina grit her teeth. She flinched back, then straightened her back again. To her end, she would not cower. This would not be her pride as a Princess, but her own pride as a woman. If the worst had happened, if her father had died, they would have delighted in seeing how far she could go without breaking.
"I am I am"
But now her thoughts fogged up. These questions expected something genuine, but Yumina had also always been able see herself with her Mystic Eyes through a mirror. She was not a completely good person either. She had her own selfish desires. But which one?
What did she really want here? To beg for her life? Just for them to stop badgering her? To let her go back and stew in her embarrassment? To beg for their help anyway, to save her kingdom from the human trash that dared call themselves its ruling class?
The heat from the light above made her sweat, but it was the Lady Monika's gaze that was burning.
But there was no hostility there. Harsh, the pitiless light of the truth.
Gentle, the comforting embrace of lies.
Monika smiled tenderly. /"I find it most interesting really, that you remind me so very much of someone I used to know. If I were given the chance to try again, I would not have opposed that person"/
Yumina felt a cold inhuman touch caress her forehead.
And Monika said /"You're going to have to sing it, Player. Sing it like Farrokh Bulsara(1)."/ She paused, putting a finger to her lips as if she was realizing she was asking for something humanly impossible. /"Or at least lip synch it convincingly."/
("Uh sing what now? I'm not even going to ask MONIKA WHY because FOR THE LULZ is a good enough answer. You're going to have to give me a bassline here, Monika.")
A weird thumming came out from the walls. Dum de dee dum dum.
("Oh. That one,(2)" Playa hummed. "Yeah. Makes sense.")
A lilting sequence of notes came out from the walls, thrumming and sliding across her skin.
And then with a sudden flash, Zah Playa stepped out into the light, opened his mouth and dulcet tones proclaimed:
- "I want to break free~!
- "I want to break~ free
- "I want to break free from your lies
- "You're so self-satisfied
- "I don't need~ you."
Yumina's cheeks burned with hot humiliation. All right, so she spoke up before thinking. Did they really think so badly of her? How arrogant she must have sounded. She bowed and shut her eyes, putting her balled up hands over her knees.
Did she deserve this? She looked around but she couldn't even see the face of her father or mother. She was hot in the spotlight, alone and flayed open.
- "I've got to break free
- /"God knows,"/
and here a second voice joined the first.
- "God knows I want to break free"
Zah Playa gyrated out in the open, shouting into some strange black tube. Yumina looked at his true self, and it was almost completely dark. But the core of it shone brighter than sun, so much it that was almost blinding.
- "I've fallen in love,"
The voice sang with heartbreaking beauty,
- "I've fallen in love for the first time,
- And this time I know it's for real~
Then two voices, male and female proclaimed "/God knows/,
- God knows I've fallen in love."
As the song continued, Yumina stopped looking for her own humiliation and just listened to it. They were performing in front of her, and the meaning of it escaped her.
- "It's strange but true~
- "I can't get over the way you love me like you do."
Playa vanished from her sight.
And then Yumina yelped as the sweet voice came out too close to her side. She stepped back as he loomed over her. Yumina giggled uncontrollably to herself as she found that the only thing she could focus on was noticing how Playa had just these kissably womanly lips.
I've fallen in love.
I've fallen in love for the first time.
/God knows/ I've fallen in love.
She stared entranced as he enunciated the sounds again.
- "Oh how I want to be free bebeh~
- "Oh how I want to be free"
Yumina nodded. She understood that he could not afford to be chained down by any noble titles. "I'm so-"
- "Oh how YOU WANT to BREAK FREE."
- "So baby can't you see
- "YOU WANT TO BREAK FREE."
He jerked back from her and began to jank his knees and hips out. Yumina put her hands to her face but completely failed to cover her eyes. How how indecent!
- "Oh we've got to break free
- "We WANT to break free, yeeheeaah,
- "WE WANT WE WANT WANT TO BREAK~ FREE"
Every note was like poking her spine with a live bolt of lightning. Yes, only someone utterly shameless could do this sort of thing. Someone completely free. Uninhibited.
Who is Yumina Erneas Belfast?
Crown Princess of Belfast.
And everything that ever weighed down on her young shoulders from that fact.
Who is Yumina?
The darker the shadows, the brighter the light. And vice versa. Lady Monika was nowhere to be found and yet everywhere. The darkness loved the light.
"Oh we've got to break freee" he crooned.
Playa smiled at her. "Oh we will. Be. Free."
The light of the early morning returned to the room, and Yumina found that her parents were not so far away after all. But now she was sitting down with Playa's face a little too close to her face and his hands on either side of her head, grasping the backrest of the dining chair.
Cutting off her escape.
Now she could see that he had pushed up the thing on his face over his forehead, now exposing most of his face. But behind that blocky black visor, Zah Playa had another mask, a more compact white one with matte lenses that hid his eyes. Nevertheless she could see his tall nose and high cheekbones.
And that dastardly self-assured smirk.
And then he said "I understand. This palace is a little too dangerous for you right now. Isn't that right, Your Higness?"
Yumina from the corner of her vision saw her father start to relax, and nod. "That is true. If they dared to poison me here in the place I thought I was safest then this place isn't safe for Yumina at all."
/"You are Yumina Ernea of Belfast."/ said Monika, from the other side, her voice too close to Yumina's ears. The Princess eep!'ed and blushed again. /"And for us no political marriage can ever be worth giving up on love "/
/"But if you just want to be swept off your feet out of this castle by some tall dark stranger/
"I, Zah Playa of Chara, would be happy to oblige."
Her earlobes nipped with cold. Lady Monika's amused little chuckle was not comforting at all!
It seemed he thought about it and very quickly came to the conclusion that taking her out of the castle for her own anonymous protection would be better than just trying to keep her locked up under guard. But how could a King trust her virtue to some stranger?
Yumina felt like slapping punching him in his pretty little mouth for that.
They could not be chained down that easily, but even as they rejected her they still found a way to give her what she wanted.
She reached out and put her thumbs into his mouth and pulled at his cheeks to make it a grin. "You ARE a good person," she said firmly.
The brightness of his true self shrank down almost to a pin-point, ringed black by shame and refusal.
Yumina lay down on her bed. Face down.
"What in the heeeeckk was thaaaaaat," she groaned out.
Her lips quirked, her cheeks blushed again at the memory, and then she screamed and pulled a pillow over her head.
"Oh I can't believe I had been so shameless! So direct! So vulgar! Aaaah~!"
She began to roll around on her bed. "Mother! Father! This is the man I'll spend the rest of my life with! What was I thinking?! How how humiliating!"
There was a far-off boom. Yumina's attention was drawn to outside her window for a moment, and then she turned back to see
Sushie Ernea Ortlinde was suddenly standing in her bedroom, staring down at her.
Yumina yelped and scooted away from the younger girl.
"How nice for you," coldly said Sue.
"Um. Hello. What brings you here... cousin?"
"I know what you did."
Oh. Well. "I'm sorry. I overstepped my place. That was"
"You thought just because you were Princess, you could get anything as long as you asked for it, didn't you?! And you you did! Just because you're a Princess, just because you're a little older, (just because you have battle magic okays at least that part is understandable), now you have Sir Zah around your fingers too!"
Sue pointed at her with her white-gloved hand. Tears dripped from her face. "Even this you're going to take from me! I saw him first! I was I just wanted to be happy with him spending time with me, and now just because you're a Princess it's not fair! It's not fair!"
Sue clenched her fists, and for a moment there Yumina was afraid Sue would attack her. A difference of two years meant a lot, even so with their year of sixteen months. Sue was biologically closer to twelve, while Yumina was closer to fifteen. Sue only had [Light] magic, Yumina was trained in actual combat magic in [Earth] and [Wind]. But Sue had been trained personally by Sir Zah, there was no telling what she was capable of now.
But Sue just dropped to the floor on knees and wailed. "It's not fair! It's not fair! Waaaaah!"
Yumina got up, and hesitantly tried to take her cousin into a hug. Sue didn't resist.
"Hush now it's going to be all right," she whispered as she stroked her younger cousin's back. "I'm sorry. Of course it's not fair I mean look at you!" Then louder, "Look at you!"
She fluffed up Sue's hair and strongly said "What's a Princess? That's nothing compared to you! Look at you! You're younger than me and you're already so accomplished!
"When my father was dying all I could do was just to sit there looking pretty. How useless! You you may not have cured my father, but you did help save his life! I should thank you forever for that!
"You're younger than me but so what? You're the one they like best! Sir Zah and Lady Monika! Do you really think they'd spend so much time around you if they didn't enjoy your company? You're so cuuute.
"You you're even going to grow up to be so much prettier than me," Yumina sighed. She had already given up on that. "The dignity of a Princess, but you you get to do things I can't. You're allowed to laugh openly, you're allowed to be friends with common people, you're so brave you can talk to anyone without them trying to figure out hidden meanings in what you say. It's not fair that you get all the benefits of this station with much less of the responsibilities."
Yumina knew she would grow up to be a great beauty, but her prized quality had always been her own intelligence. Ironic given that her own father was the more personable of the two brothers, but now between the cousins it was Sue that was vastly more approachable, vastly more natural at making others feel comfortable in her presence. Sue had boatloads of charisma and that would make all the difference. Beauty was a common thing.
Look at Sue. She was one of the few people she knew of that was still so pure, even the darkness in her soul was little more than mischief.
"A Princess isn't anything to be impressed about," she sighed. "Not even my father could talk them into an engagement, just that in two years it would be something to consider. There is no political advantage whatsoever, this is something Lady Monika decided for her own amusements."
"But you're still allowed to travel with them and and try to make him fall in love with you!" Sue groused out.
A contemplative silence stretched out.
Then Yumina let out a little laugh, and Sue made a "hur hur hur" snicker. Yeah. Not even these two sheltered little romantic dreamers could believe that. Lady Monika was the gatekeeper and the one whose approval must be courted. At least without an engagement none of them needed to feel pressured like wearing an albatross around their necks.
But "I'm ten now. I heard Miss Elze and Miss Linze went out on their own to become adventurers when they were eleven. Going off having fun, being a hero for hire! Just one more year. Just wait!"
Yumina giggled. "Of course. Of course. If you could go adventuring with us, it will be just grand. I hope Uncle allows it."
"Uuuh. It's not fair if only you get to do this! I don't care if you're a Princess, I'm going to catch up to you soon!"
Yumina giggled agan, and sighed softly. "What's a Princess? That's nothing valuable at all. In the end behind that I'm just Yumina. I'm not powerful at all, there's so much I didn't know"
Yumina Earnea Belfast pulled her cousin tighter into a hug. Her whole body tingled for tomorrow. She felt like her shameless audacity had just bought her all the rest of her life.
"/God knows./ God knows I just wanted to be free"
(1) Freddy Mercury