In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 97
"I am Mylah, adventurer, Red Rank. My ability is [Ramp]," spoke the huge woman. She looked like a bodybuilder, but not grotesquely over-muscled. Since she was so much taller than anyone, it was easy to see how my gaze went down from her face, to her impressive exposed abs, and then to curve of her hips.
The grip on my head tightened. "Playa, don't be a lecher."
"Wow you could grate cheese on those things," I murmured. Then in a calm no-nonsense voice, "Elze, you have abs too. Don't try to go too far with building muscle, I like yours as they are, perfectly in-between cushy and firm."
"S-stop ittt!!!" Elze began to shake my head around from side to side, like a joystick on a Street Fighter arcade game.
"How unsightly," another of Zorah's guards muttered.
"How disgusting, this man!"
"What a shamelessly crooked heart, I'm so envious!"
"" Elze and I stopped and stared at them oddly.
Mylah laughed. "Girl, you've got fire. I like you, you look like you're a fist fighter too aren't you?"
"Y-yes! I am Elze Silhoueska! Adventurer, Green Rank. But I'm only a couple more missions away from being Blue rank! My ability is [Boost]!"
"By the way, I still find this whole etiquette of introducing yourself and your special abilities to your opponent before you fight is quite a silly way to give up your advantage"
"Duels are different from open war, Mister Zah," Yumina explained. "It is most important that both combatants approach from as equal a state as possible. This preserves honor, and protects the peace. It is why armies can even stop fighting as their own generals duel it out, and whoever wins both sides don't waste the lives of their men."
"Oh so that's why Dynasty Warriors does that thing. Mooks gotta mook, I suppose."
" I guess a dynastic warrior path is good other way to describe chivalry?" Yumina added.
So the first fight would be [ELZE versus MYNAH].
"I I am Sara Lanyard! Adventurer, Red rank!" spoke up the mage-looking gal with the double-braided dirty blond hair. "My magic affinities are [Fire], [Water], and [Earth!]."
She looked like a farmgirl, she even had freckles. It's a pity her look was still lacking something. She would look really cute with those big round anime eyeglasses. She was short but b-b-boingg, if you know what I mean.
I felt Linze's hand on my shoulder. "Please allow me to test the limits of my capacity with this one, Mister Zah." Her voice came out strong and measure, Linze was no Shyface right now.
"I am Linze Silhoueska, Adventurer, Green Rank. My affinities are [Fire], [Water], and [Light]."
Her opponent nodded in acknowledgment. Linze's hand didn't leave my shoulder. Why?
/"I think she's waiting for a little harmless flirting like what you did with Elze. Just, you know, to balance things."/
I stealthily reached down and stroked with a finger down the side of her knee.
"Eek!" Linze shrieked and recoiled. She tugged at her skirt, blushing madly. Um wait, that makes it look much worse than what I actually did.
"Playa" Elze hissed.
"Um. J-just win, Linze. And then we'll see what happens after that?"
She nodded happily. "Um!"
Zorah pointed at me with her jaw hanging open in indignation almost like that dude from the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (1)
So the next battle would be [LINZE vs SARAH].
The two swordswomen had been eyeing each other all this while.
"I am Cynthia Aurbell, Adventurer, Red Rank. Self-taught. I have affinity with [Water], but I do not use it. You there Eashen girl! Let us fight."
"I am Kokonoe Yae, practitioner of the Kokonoe Ninefold Paths to the Imperial Court Sword Style. I accept. Please fight me with all your strength."
[YAE vs CYNTHIA.]
Which obviously leaves
"But I want to beat his face in!" Zorah whined. "I want to. I want to. I want to!"
"You might accidentally kill him, and that would displease both the Duke and the King. Please just leave it to me, milady," said Lydia.
"Tch. Don't make it easy for him."
I tilted my head to the side and grinned smarmily. "So, would you say you are sworn to carry her burdens?"
"I am Lydia Colwinde, former Adventurer, Rank Red. Now I am a sworn guard of the Zenovivi Family. My affinity is [Wind] and [Dark]. My personal magic is [Quivering Tone]."
I winced. "Oh boy. Could we just not?"
"Are you scared, boy?"
"Look, when I say I am the MASTER of WIND MAGIC, I am not kidding. Let's sword-fight and just leave Wind Magic out of it, okay?"
"I refuse. You are bluffing. I am also quite well-versed in Wind magic, face me like a man and not a bag of hot air!"
"Ugggh." I began rubbing the bridge of my nose to relieve my sudden headache. Then I quickly looked up and to the side. "Mysterious Heroine Y! You get your wish! Fight her if you want!"
"Yay?" Yumina didn't know how to feel about that.
"I would really rather just fight Zorah, you know? Wind batters itself against the mountain to no avail. Fighting against someone who is my complete opposite would at least be interesting."
"W-well!" Zorah spoke up while turning away. "T-that's something you wanted from me after all. But you're not going to have it that easily. You are not my equal, earn the right to face me!"
I licked my lips. "Operation Piss You Off Mightily Mark Two the Presequel is a go, then?" I swiftly looked to the left. "ZANAC! I have ideas. Let me talk at you!"
Zanac's tired eyes opened wide. "W-what?"
"Is the reason why she dolls up like a Cakeface because she blushes really really easily? She's younger than you, right? While she was still a child, did she ever say /'When I get older I'm gonna marry you/'?"
"ALL RIGHT THEN KILLING TIME IS N-!" Zorah put her hands on the table to flip it over angrily, but Lydia managed to dive in front.
"No!" she screamed. "Do not let him win, milady!"
"Sir Zah. Please stop." Yumina frowned cutely at me. "This is unbecoming of you. Both of you."
Zorah and I clacked our teeth at each other, then huffed back to our seats.
[PLAYA vs LYDIA???]
We had been adventurers for about a month and a half. In that time we had gone from Black to Green, an astonishingly rapid but not exactly unprecedented rise in the ranks. Most of that came from how the girls didn't need to walk so much just getting to the mission site due to our [Boom Tube] teleport skill. Having a healer allowed for taking missions one after the other.
But we had mainly been fighting monsters.
The Adventurer ranks go thus.
Black -> Purple -> Green -> Blue -> Red -> Silver -> Gold.
Blue rank was the highest most people could ever achieve. Dolan, Micah's father, and Barral of the Eight Bears weapon shop were massive men who had journeyed and fought all across the continent. They were true veterans. Red were elite fighters.
Elze, Linze, and Yae, and even me we are all physically about sixteen to twenty Earth years. Yae's actually the oldest. Would a month of fighting be enough to overcome up to ten years difference in experience?
This was no game world. There were no level-ups, you did not gain experience points by fighting stronger enemies. It was all just acquired intuition, muscle memory, the ability to push past pain and fatigue, the raw strength of trained muscles. Magic where applicable, spirit power to improve attack power for others. Power in its purest form - flesh made steel by force of will!
What arrogance! How could we dare to think we had a shot of winning? These people had earned their power, their place in the world, through pain and time and honest effort. I could see in their eyes, they thought we were a bunch of ignorant children.
But in the eyes of Elze, there was only the honest glee for combat.
In Linze, a slow-burning determination.
In Yae, as always the perfect equanimity that fears no death.
In Yumina, uncertainty and fear but at least it was understandable there. But she feared no failure either.
Monika stared back at me. In her green eyes I saw only the protectiveness of a mother lion.
The answer was simple.
Because we dared at all was the reason we were strong.
If you do not leave your comfort zones, you cannot go beyond yourself. The greatest and most terrible opponent anyone will ever face will always be the one staring back from the mirror.
To go from Black Rank to Green rank in a month, was that enough time to match with a veteran Red rank? These were pure girls, Monika loved them for that. We had to prove we were more than the product of our sins. We would protect them.
But war was on the horizon. Should I feel guilty about instigating it? No, after talking it over with the King and the Duke, it was inevitable at some point. Either an external war of defense or an internal civil war. Remember, it took two massive World Wars and megadeaths to knock Europe out of its view of wars being glorious undertakings. (2)
Twenty years of peace was the aberration.
The best way to protect the ones we care about is to give them the strength to keep themselves safe. I just hoped that one month... was enough time to create a miracle.
In this other world with my smartphone.
ELZE vs MYNAH. ROUND ONE of ONE.