In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 103
"Everyone, DO NOT!" Yae shouted back hurriedly.
("Yae, friends don't let friends be molested. Even a pretty girl can be skeevy.")
"T-that's." Yae coughed and only gave a quick glance aside. She kept her attention on her opponent, her sword still held out in a guard position. "T-thank you, but that is not necessary, Playa-dono."
Then in a calmer voice, completely devoid of emotion, she said "Dishonorable as it may be, it is true that in the middle of battle, a samurai must have a heart clear as glass, as brilliant as the moon and unshakable as the march of time. My opponent may sully the sanctity of a duel, but I have my own honor. Forgive me, but I do not need your assistance, that I do not."
"Ooh? So you think it's just to fluster you into making a mistake? How disappointing. You should have more confidence in your own womanhood."
"That was careless of me, to be too relaxed. A duel is an echo of the battlefield. I was underestimating you, that I was."
Cythia shrugged. "Suit yourself."
The swordwoman smiled thinly and stood up straight, raising her blade out at eye level. Again she looked so full of poise, almost regal in stature. Then her lips opened out into a shameless leer and her eyes glittered with darkly erotic glee.
Everyone shivered. So creepy.
(" What even is happening here, seriously.")
("She is a depraved lunatic. Cynthia is indeed an incredibly talented swordswoman but she makes too many enemies by her lack of any delicacy.")
("... What a familiar situation.")
The two swordswomen clashed again.
For a two-handed sword, the katana was not really all that long. Compared to a typical arming sword, it was even slightly heavier without any extra blade length. When swords are crossed, all it would take is a few more inches in the lunge to drive straight into the opponent's heart. (1)
Cythia had almost no defense. Her sword style was geared towards attack and dodge, very little parrying, and swift unpredictable footwork. Suddenly, she was much faster. Her swords strikes flashed like sparks under the sun, and Yae was caught on the back foot. Her blade was good for parrying, but this was a duel under touch rules.
"Point for me," said Cynthia.
Yae nodded. She exhaled and remade her stance. In a flurry of strikes, she managed to tag her opponent in the shoulder.
"Point for you," said Cynthia.
But for all that the rapier was longer and faster, a saber-like blade user could and in fact should confidently push in with fast, powerful swings because a rapier could not parry so effectively. Letting the one with the longer weapon set the pace was no good.
And of course both swords were not actually very good against armor.
But that would be the amateur's view of the sword, where metal must clash against metal. An empty hand was very potent in real sword combat. Two-handed holds were very open to wrist grabs on a missed swing.
Grappling was an excellent way to beat armored foes and stick sharp things into their vulnerables.
The tip of Cythia's blade, though capped with a blunt piece of metal for safety, flashed in the mid-afternoon sun. She angled the reflecting rays to bedazzle Yae's eyes. Yae was wise to such tricks and continued her slash even as she pinched her eyes almost shut. It was a perfect diagonal cut from shoulder to hip, executed swiftly
Cynthia tilted her body aside so that that blade, once committed to its course, passed by her body in a perfect parallel diagonal with barely a centimeter to spare.
Such were the reflexes of a Red Rank adventurer, one who was almost a part of the Royal Knight order. This put her in the perfect stance to stab up into Yae's right armpit. Even if puncture wounds aren't so immediately debilitating as a wide bleeding cuts, such a stab into vital muscle and nerve points would disable that arm and then she could follow through with a stab to the neck.
The foundation of all sword styles was footwork. She pivoted on her left heel and reversed the facing of her right wrist, flipping the sword up towards a reverse upward cut.
Cynthia stopped that cold by pushing away on Yae's wrist with her open palm while simultaneously angling her rapier for a neck stab. So Yae stepped forward to turn the blocked arm into an elbow strike, letting go with her left hand to turn her sword too into chest stab. Cythia leaned into her attack and soon enough they were in a blade lock with their faces so close together.
So smooth were their movements, the two swordswomen flowed like water - like two raindrops coming together.
Cynthia grinned and whispered huskily "So, you're not involved with that suspicious young man over there, right? Then why don't you have dinner with me after this?"
"Aww, why not? Do you know how rare it is to find a pure swordswoman here? An adventurer can be anything, but even then many gravitate towards bows and spears, and most women adventurers have magic and prefer to use that instead. There's so few that want to take the pains and the risks of close combat against monster beasts and men.
"I was trained in the Restia Knight Kingdom, and there the only thing that matters was martial virtue but when I came home, there was no real route to my advancement without grabbing onto some young master's thigh."
("The reason you were kicked out was not because of that, but because you were seducing their wives!")
("Wait, isn't that dangerous?")
("Of course it is. The only reason she's not dead right now is that compared to cuckolding with a man, there's no risk of children happening to stain the bloodline and steal the inheritance.")
("I mean mostly in how seeing their target of their lusts just blithely dismiss them and have success of her own somewhere else it would be terribly emasculating, I think. People are also strongly driven by spite. This almost sounds like the start of a mindbreak hentai plot.")
("I have no idea what that means, but if the Royal Army chooses not to have such an excellent sword, then the border will accept this addition to its combat power.")
Then Zorah raised her arms and angrily shook her fists at the heavens. ("But not happily!!!")
("Frankly, mistress, I don't understand why you even considered taking Cynthia's advice. Just because she has traveled all over the world and seen so many useless young masters, doesn't mean everyone who has young women hanging off his arm is a reprobate.")
("Most of them though. A degenerate recognizes another degenerate.")
("Ehh. Where I come from this isn't all that unusual. As long as you all obey the law and pay taxes on time, I don't care what goes on in their private time. I'm a results-oriented boss. The commonfolk ask for only one thing, not to be bothered needlessly when they harm no one.")
" That is surprisingly open-minded of you," Cythia said to the side. "May I call you a comrade, then?"
("But sexual harassment is still a crime, so we'll certainly have fun watching Yae beating your ass like a drum.")
"That's fair," Cynthia nodded.
She nodded and turned back towards Yae, who politely didn't take the opening in the conversation to attack. "Then how about a bet? If I win this fight, you owe me a kiss."
Yae scowled. "Must you behave so dishonorably?"
Cynthia grinned shamelessly. "Must I? Why must I conform to your expectations instead of asking you to move outside of your limited view of the world? If you are annoyed, then I win. If you accept, then I win."
Yae narrowed her eyes. She had no interest whatsoever in these licentious exchanges. It was sullying the way of the sword, the purity of killing purpose.
"As women, though it is a pain to be badgered by men, it is still a good feeling to know that you are desired, is it not?" Cynthia continued. "I believe that to express honest adoration is a kindness."
Regardless of her opponent's motivations, she could only lose if she allowed it to disturb her focus.
She drew the other sword from her belt.
"See, that makes no sense to me," said Cynthia. "The blade in the off hand is usually lighter and shorter to defend effectively. But another full length sword can't do that as well, and it will just tire you out faster."
Yae exploded into action.
"Kokonoe Sword Style Twin Moon Light and Dark Crescent Blade [Futago no Tsuki no Hikari to Yama Mikadzuki Ha]!"
There was no thought of defense either, she used the momentum of one sword in the swing to drive the other in the follow-through. She spun in place putting her whole weight into the slash, but so fast that there was practically no time to counter. But she would then break through any defense.
No more prancing around, Yae just blasted out and handed her opponent her own ass.
"Dohohoho~!" Cynthia laughed merrily as she was forced off the ring. She slammed on the ground, flat on her back.
Yae looked very dissatisfied.
But she chose to just pointedly ignore Cythia's indecent gaze following her back. Her pink kimono and voluminous hakama hid most of her body's shape, free roaming samurai clothing was mostly unisex. But even so under that gaze she felt naked. It was a very uncomfortable feeling. She was used to the lustful looks from men, but from someone of her own gender it was highly disturbing. She felt her opponent could certainly have fought harder, but she would not give into the trap of asking for a rematch.
Though she thought that perhaps this wave of lustful intent might possibly work to dilute the pressure of false intent via the darkness behind the blade?
She shook her head and sighed as she sat down next to her... friends. "Thank you for your praise, but it was nothing special, Elze-dono."
She supposed they really were her friends after all, she no longer felt like a stranger in their midst. Though she was a stronger combatant than Elze or Linze, she felt like she was already nearing the apex of her abilities while they were still growing towards their potential.
Yae was acquiring a bit of an impostor syndrome (2) about her place in the team. The more praise she was given, the more she felt it was undeserved. She was an excellent swordswoman, but Elze and Linze could offer something of value more than just their fighting arm. She was the best fighter she could possibly be, but beyond that- Yae felt that her own smarts and her own womanly charms were somewhat underdeveloped. .
Cythia's catlike grin seemed to say /'No, that's not true, let me show you.'/
Yae huffed faintly and looked away.
And speaking of Impostor Syndrome
It was time for CHARNAME and CARRYBURDENS to show their mettle!