In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 89
The minimap showed five red dots walking down the street headed towards our inn. But as soon as they arrived in front and prepared to enter, they were intercepted by some white dots emerging from the alley nearby.
Five white dots barred the way. They were about ten steps away from the front of the door. Other neutral white dots, random townspeople, rapidly evacuated the street in a hurry. Wise.
Monika projected the minimap onto the table. We stared at the door then back towards the table, wondering if we should intervene. The dots outside had some small movements showing a verbal confrontation.
Then one of the white dots was suddenly pushed back, as if punched or hit. That was the signal for the other white dots to attack. Now the minimap boiled with activity. The five red dots shifted formation to a reverse diamond, protecting one specific hostile unit. The white dots spread out to surround them.
The red diamond formation moved forward and practically smashed through three of the white dots, sending them careening every which way. They were flung off and stopped moving, apparently having crashed to the ground.
And then even more white dots boiled out from the alley and nearby buildings. I counted. It was now about twenty (less three incapacitated or knocked unconscious) versus five.
Okay those neutral tagged white units were getting their asses soundly kicked. I saw one white dot get hit and zoom all the way down the street. Two more crashed into the walls on the other side of the street. We heard a loud thump as another one was rammed onto the closed front door.
There was a free-for-all going out there. I stood up, almost immediately followed by Elze. I tugged down at my white leather gloves, feeling the magic crystals sewn into the fingertips. Since it was breakfast time, she wasn't armed with her metal gloves. But it was for this reason that she had bought a pair of brass knuckles that could clip onto her belt.
Yae was, of course, armed. She was a swordswoman. She would never carelessly leave her swords behind.
Monika zoomed out the view a little to show an organized group of blue dots walking towards the battle outside. Town guards. They rounded the corner and took a look at the fighting and /turned around/. What. Why?
Micah caught the look in my eye and nodded. Swiftly she evac-ed out to the kitchen. We strode forth, opened the door, and beheld a scene of utter devastation.
Men in bronzed half-plate armor were strewn all over the place. A guy was rammed halfway into a window. Via his butt. He was now trapped in their with his legs and arms out but unable to get any leverage. Several more people were slumped unconscious across the street. Shards of ice and broken earth pierced the stone walls of nearby buildings.
The few remaining fighters with their weapons out now stood in a line as if prepared to receive a cavalry charge. But their opponents were just four strange women in strange outfits with even stranger weapons.
"My lord!" one of the armored men shouted upon seeing me. "Stay back! Please allow us to deal with these trespassers!"
Wait. He looked familiar.
/"That's Maldon. One of the soldiers we rescued along with Sue in that ambush it feels so long ago now,"/ Monika reminded me.
Then I heard a mocking "Ohohohohoh.!"
And I sighed.
"Of course. Zorah's back. Back again." And she brought friends.
"Smash them! Crush them! All those impudent fools who stand in our way - ! Show them their place, trod beneath our feet!" she screeched.
There were four fighters with her. The first was a large well-muscled woman with short light silver-blond hair, metal gloves and greaves. Another had a long-handled warhammer, a woman of average height and features with her dark hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. Another had a long but thin basket-hilted cavalry saber, and her long black hair trailed behind her in silken waves. Finally the last had curly hair that was tied into two braids on either side of her face, and she carried a magic wand that looked more like a reinforced scepter. All of them wore a deep indigo cloak.
The Ortlinde men grimaced and hefted their weapons. They too carried single-ended swords, because at least the blunt side could be used to subdue people non-lethally.
"All right. That's it. Everybody. [Freeze.]"
I closed my fist, and then suddenly everyone else on the street had their feet up to the knees encased in ice. Those fighters in the middle of charging to attack fell flat on their face.
There were a series of cracking noises, and from behind those four garishly-dressed fighting women, Zorah Zornea Zenovivi stepped out with bits of ice clinging to her ankles. She was still dressed in an impracticable frilled red dress, but at least now her round bustle skirt only reached down to the knee. Her black stockings showed the outline of slim yet powerful legs.
From how everyone else couldn't move and were more or less glued to the street, I knew that breaking the ice without leverage required very significant amount of strength. My brows furrowed. Did she have some sort of [Null] ability for strength? Or considering what I recalled of the last time we encountered her something regarding maybe weight or density?
"Miscreants! Nothing here but fools who only pretend to be strong." She pointed at me with a pointed red finger, "And you, you rude creature no longer are you satisfied to hide behind women's skirts, now you have brought a weak mob to defend you rather than face your sins boldly and openly like a gentleman."
I stared blankly at her. "You just beat up, like twenty of the Ortlinde guards. With people you brought in, what even is this hypocrisy? And on that note," I turned towards Maldon, "What are the Ortlinde Guards doing here anyway?"
"We have been seconded to your authority, my lord." Maldon lowered his sword and gasped for breath. "Much as inadequate as we may be. It is clear we have underestimated adventurers."
Well they were light horse infantry anyway. I opened my palm out and waved at the street. Abruptly the ice around all their legs melted away. Now that things had calmed down everyone separated back into two groups.
"Yes, you silly mallards," Zorah added. "You turn proven adventurers into your house troops, instead of the reverse trying to turn good house troops into shiftless adventurers."
I glanced behind me, and found that Yumina had placed a white domino mask over her face in a hurry. It was possible that Zorah might recognize her face, and the whole point of this little expedition was to allow her to travel in relative anonymity. Linze frowned minutely at her until Yumina brought out another domino mask. Linze accepted the peacemaking gesture.
So, were they some sort of secret service? Sounds legit.
I turned back to the street. "I was not told about this," I objected. Then I blinked and realized. "Wait. There are twenty of you. Twenty good men."
"Yes my lord."
" and I was away in Alephis for two days dealing with the King's poisoning," I muttered. "And since it takes *five days* to reach Reflet from the capital, this means you lot were here all along."
I knew who to blame for this.
She popped up for a bit and made Jazz hands. /"Surpriiiiise."/
"Wait you just said something I cannot ignore and now I have an actual legitimate reason to crush you and bring you in for questioning," Zorah muttered.
Implying you knew you didn't have one before and fully aware you were just doing things for own petty whims?!
Zorah and I bared teeth at each other.
But because she knew enough to head over to the Silver Moon Inn I suddenly realized this meant that they were watching and gathering information on us too. This was dangerous for uninvolved civilians like Micah.
Then I turned back to address Maldon again, and paused. The streets behind him were clear of injured soldiers. Okay, so the best bodyguards are unobtrusive ones, but since when were you ninjas instead of knights? "Wait wasn't there supposed to be more of you? Why did you take away the injured? Dude, you know I'm a healer, right?"
Maldon turned back and then faced me again. "We cannot bother you with such trifling matters, my lord! A little pain is a reminder to do better." There was something ashen in his tone. I was reminded abruptly that his brother died in the ambush to kidnap Sue, and now again and /with even more people/ his own strength proved insufficient to accomplish his duty.
"You may be an impudent guard who dares to howl at your betters, but at least you know the proper reward for your failure," said Zorah. "I approve."
Yeah no. Pain for pain's sake doesn't teach anybody anything. This is why even military training has been rigorously examined and reworked down to a science. "That is the most asinine thing I have ever-"
I felt a tug on the back on my cape. I turned around again to see Yumina shyly pulling at my back. She shook her head, pleading for me to stop antagonizing Zorah for now.
What was it about this woman that made her so profoundly irritating to me? Was it the voice? Yeah, I could easily fall in love with a voice. Her voice had this sort of grating high-pitched fake falsetto. Vocal range has a surprisingly large amount of relevance to how much people feel about other people.
Too little tonal variance makes you sound robotic, boring, or arrogant. Too high and you sound shrill and nagging or whiny. Sudden manic changes will just make you sound insane. Deep voices from men are more pleasant, but trying to deepen your voice too often while speaking can damage the vocal chords. This was why I tried to develop an attractive resonance instead. I took cues from not just Char Aznable but Charles Aznavour.
"All right. Fine. Lady Zorah," and it took a lot for me not to add MISS FISHFACE like Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past's Zoras to that, " why did you even come here? What do you WANT?"
Zorah flipped over her feathered fan and hid the lower half of her face. Her eyes were like cutting blades. "As I said before, you must be made to pay for your sins."
"What sins, dang it?!" There were too many to list.
"I AM TALKING ABOUT THIIIIS!"
Zorah reached behind her, then flung a tube at my face. It slapped against my [Air Shield], which was always active but allowed physical objects below a certain velocity to pass through unhindered. The tube resolved itself into
A magazine dropped onto my waiting palm. I unrolled the magazine.
It was exactly as I had expected. It was FASHION KING ZANAC'S ADVENTUREWEAR.
"This is FILTH! PURE FILTH!"
Hey! I resented that! It took me a lot of cajoling to get Elze and Linze and Yae to pose for this! Aer even managed to badger Micah into a shoot. Monika's [Laser Printing] couldn't print out color photographs, but color engraved printing is 1500s technology! It just takes a lot engraving skill and multiple blocks, and while Europe prioritized line and tone for book illustrations by the 1600s color was the norm for East Asia.
I began to flip through the magazine. Belfast was not a Puritan society. I've seen a lot of people go around with even less. What the heck was even her problem?
And then I found the page where Zanac and I were posing back to back. He was wearing a similar outfit to mine, complete with helmet and short cape. With his tired eyes covered, his broad-boned baby face made him look a fair bit younger. One could almost even think it was a photograph of two brothers. Because of his height, Zanac is the younger one.
Yes everything in the Zanac Adventurewear magazine were JoJo poses.
I flicked through the pages some more and ahaha oh wow I remember how Linze was so completely mortified by this pose with her sister. She actually broke down crying afterwards and Elze punched me in the face.
"YOU HAVE SOILED ZANAC WITH YOUR FILTH! SOILED HIS PURITYYYY!" Zorah screeched out. She took out another Zanac Adventurewear magazine and slapped it down to the ground. She began trampling on it, each stomp of her slim feet in high-heels punching through the paper and into the flagstones. "SOILED IT! SOILED IT! SOILED IT!"
Her back arched back. Wrryyyy.
I breathed out "Oh thank god it's actually something stupid instead of something like inciting war between Belfast and Regulus and putting your family first on the battle lines again when the fighting breaks out."
"What was that just now?!"