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In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 96





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Possibilities boiled through my mind. Everything from unbalanced trade agreements to shibari games.

I had to discard all of them.

I swept my cape back before pointing at her with two fingers. "Terms are irrelevant! I will fight you because I want to fight you, nothing else. I will crush you because it pleases me, no more is needed."

Zorah blinked. "That. is possibly a mistake." She crossed her arms and sniffed "But you may be worthy yet."

/"Really, Player? You have the chance to ask for ANYTHING when you win."/

I smiled thinly. Let's not win the battle but lose the war. There's much much more I could take from her than just the results of one little bet.

It would be very stupid to empty your hand if you're playing a card game. But an empty hand is exactly what you need to reach across the table and grab new things.

"Are you disappointed?" I grinned and spread my arms wide. "May I remind you that it was you who offered what you thought was a sexual deviant WHATEVER HE WANTED?"

Monica sucked in her breath. Everyone's heads turned towards Zorah, who let out a little 'gleep!' of realization. Even Yumina looked disturbed.

"Blank checks are the worst checks. Each time we make a choice we close off an ocean of possibilities, but not making a choice is itself a choice," I said evenly. "I choose not to give into all the temptations that occur to me every single day."

For I had realized that I had a Princess beside me, and I would probably use up that favor making Zorah wear a Mario Hat and a fake bushy mustache and have her chase me like I was Bowser, Yumina slung over my shoulder just confused as much as excited about how strange her life had suddenly become. If it weren't for the imminent war and how we had to go on missions, there was much we could do to troll snooty nobles.

Wealth? Political advantage? Pfeh. I would use up personal favors only for stupid things. Everything else I would acquire through my own power or fair and equivalent exchange. I may be an adventurer, but I'm no murderhobo.

"But... Mister Zah... if you do that, then isn't it just like letting her get away with things?!" Linze whispered. She glared cutely out towards Zorah.

"Ahahaha no of course not."

Maybe we could try humiliating a haughty noble lady by making her serve me for a week as a maido, bet against ME wearing that same maid outfit to serve her. Char fears not. A truly shameless confident man will look good in anything.

Or just have her wear a black leather collar out in public no other change in her daily life, except that one change in her fashion. Even when she's talking with other nobles, even when among family, in whatever formal dress they would wonder, has Lady Zorah been claimed? And she dares to display that proof like some sort of slattern?

Ah, such shame! Such delicious shame. Her indignant face behind that makeup, only her eyes able to show the truth of her rage and disgrace. Worse, because I had no intention whatsoever of following through so her reputation would be ruined for NOTHING.

If she didn't have the honor or the guts to live up to the bet, then it would be hilarious taunting her forever about it as well. There's plenty of witnesses, and then Yumina reveals that she is one of them. Trying to silence the Crown Princess will not go so well for anyone.

Such a shame

"It's probably for the best that I do not indulge in such things. Hurting Zorah would hurt Zanac, and I would always do good by my friends."

I grinned and approached the table. With a gesture and a quick chant, I created some short Earth Pillars as extra seats. Yumina followed behind me while the rest of the girls stayed back to eye their opposition.

Then raising my chin, I said to the noblewoman "But win or lose I demand something from you. You will apologize to my friend, Micah the Inkeeper of Silver Moon Inn. And Maldon, formerly of Ortlinde Ducal Guards. Causing them so much distress does you no honor!"

"You don't get to demand things, you despicable man!" Lydia shouted from behind Zorah.

Zorah scowled and made a 'Tch' noise.

After a few moments, she nodded. " Fine. I will apologize to the civilian. Commoners rarely see how much it is to their benefit how our rule is there to make them better. Fitter. More productive. Their lives are lived in fear and mediocrity, but it is because they are weak that we nobles exist to protect them.

"But a Ducal Guard needs to live up to higher standards!"

Mmm. Eh, I'll take what I can get. Maldon's psychological scars would do just fine as long as he wasn't exposed to any more creepy doll faces.

If she had refused, I would have no guilt whatsoever and we're back to Plan B instead of the much more educational Plan A. "Well Bargained and Done. Let us fight."

Zanac waved his arms about like some sort of adorable red panda. "Friends! Please reconsider!"

"No can do, Zanac ol' buddy."

"Yes, dear Zanac. There can be only one."

"There can be only one WHAT?!" he wailed.

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I reached into my satchel and slammed down a bottle of wine onto the table.

"What do you think this is, a picnic?" Zorah sneered.

"We are all sinners here, let us soothe our consciences with drink," I replied as I sat down. "For all those we have trampled carelessly as we move through life, I offer a toast."

"Careful, mistress. It might be poison," said Lydia. "The King was poisoned with wine just recently."

I tilted my head to the side. "Are you people still so ignorant about what or who happened after that?"

"What do you mean 'you people!" Lydia objected instead.

Zorah snorted. "What do you think we are, poor? Keep your cheap vintage. Sarah, attend to me!"

The youngest adventurer reached into the backpack carried by Milah, the largest adventurer, and brought out a bottle of wine and a silver cup. "H-here, milady!" She then took a bucket, cast some water onto it, froze and broke open the top layer, and then dipped the wine bottle into it.

I smirked and stroked my wine bottle from lip down to the bottom like I was caressing down a nubile girl's side. Frost trailed behind my fingers.

"Fool," Zorah sniffed. "You will destroy the rich body of the wine if you freeze too quickly."

"You're thinking I'm using [Water]. But air has temperature, and I am the master of [Wind] magic."

I took out two glass goblets and placed them on the table. And then a third.

Zorah slammed down a second silver cup. "No."

I moved the glass goblet left. Zorah moved her silver cup to block it. Swipe to the right. Block. Swipe to left. Block. And on the far end, like the goal on a football field, Zanac stared in helpless confusion.

By this time Zorah and I were leaning across the table snarling into each other's faces.

"I will stab you with this glass. It will hurt more."

"Silver is denser, you fool. I will break your face."

"Sir Zah, please" Yumina whispered. "Please control yourself. We have a different reason for accepting this duel, remember?"

"Zorah, that's enough. Please calm down." Zanac put a hand on his shoulder and instantly she calmed down. I could tell just how much she wanted to lean into his touch but did not dare to express any womanly weakness in public.

I remembered that Monika said before the solution to this was hugs. Maybe the cause of this was hugs. Zanac was the person who held and comforted her at her weakest and darkest days. The only person who could ever make her feel safe his safety could never be compromised upon!

"What *is* your damage anyway?" I had to ask. "I have a feeling that just apologizing for the offense when we first met won't solve the problem. What do you have against me being around Zanac anyway?"

Zorah flicked her fan open and hid the lower half of your face. "It may have been just that when we started, but there are now stronger reasons to doubt. We have been watching you suspicious people for some time now.

"Zah Playa, age unknown. Country of birth, unknown. Appeared in Reflet about two months ago. Picked up by the Duke and became a tutor. Yet still not satisfied with that and moves between the capital and Reflet with some form of loud [Transport] skill. It is too obvious. You *want* to be noticed. For what reason?

"Elze and Linze Silhoueska. Country of birth, Refreese. Appeared in Reflet at around the same time, but can be traced back as real citizens of the Refreese Imperium.

"Yae Kokonoe. Country of birth, Eashen. Entered Belfast via the Gau River. Verified familial relationship to Jubei Kokonoe, former sword teacher for the Sordrick family."

"All of these foreigners out of nowhere in little more than a few weeks suddenly deep inside our kingdom's most vulnerable places! It's too suspicious!"

Then she looked at Yumina. The Princess fidgeted. She still had her white opera mask on Yumina's heterochromic eyes were very noticeable, and hence why like mine her mask had reflective lenses. Zorah glared at me. "Then you picked up another one? What is she supposed to do?"

"I can I can fight!" Yumina said, her tone growing stronger and indignant at the end.

"She's on her first week as a trainee. She will NOT fight."

"Sir Zah. You promised."

"Well no need to fight THESE jokers in particular."

"Well *you* are suspicious also anyway," Zorah said mulishly. "Where are you from, child?"

Yumina nodded and curtsied a little bit. "Perfectly understandable, Lady Zorea. I am at least a native of Belfast. I was raised in Alephis."

Zorah bent her hips, returning the gesture. "Oh. You certainly know your etiquette, young lady." Since she was heir-apparent but not the Marchioness of Zenovivi, calling her by her family name Zorea instead of house name Zenovivi was the proper response. For example, Sue would be Lady Ernea while her mother would be Lady Ortlinde.

Incidentally, family names in this other world had feminine and masculine forms. Ernes and Ernea for the Royal family of Belfast, while Roa and Rea for the Royals of Regulus. They were the obvious exception to the rule since both the Duke and the King were both Ernes. There was also the formal address Your Grace, Your Highness, and Crown Princess anyway.

"What are you doing with these group of rough roustabouts?" Zorah's gaze flicked back up to me. "Now it has become even more urgent that your true self is exposed!"

"That's just unfair! You don't know Mister Zah at all!" Linze spat out. "You're trying to make him out to be a bad guy, but we don't need your protection and we never asked for it!"

"Um we already know his true self. It is more embarrassing than immoral," said Yumina.

"My dear, don't fall for it. Men like him are a dime a dozen. A man that grubs for money has no backbone, he will not know honor. They prey upon girls who long for excitement and mystery in their lives made safe and protected by the care of their parents and elder brothers!"

Are are you projecting? I leaned back and jutted my chin out. "She is Mysterious Heroine Y. You will refer to her as Mystery Yellow. Hers is already an exciting existence!"

/"What, like Pokemon protagonist Yellow?"/

At this point in time I no longer needed to wear a helmet or even the VR headset all the time. With careful use of micro [Boom Tubes], the screen could be projected to the inside of a thinner and more comfortable white mask much more similar to what Char Aznable would wear. The VR headset and Monika's frightfully vulnerable smartphone body, were now carried in a more protected armored casing around my belt in replacement for the fanny pack I used to wear.

This was the reason Zorah didn't ask {"Is she your little sister or something?"} about Yumina despite our similar masks, because now with most of my face exposed it was clear we looked nothing alike.

"Freedom Red," I pointed at myself with my thumb. Then to each behind me "Valiant Green. Faithful Blue. Justice Pink. (Also not appearing right now, Turing White.) Together we are the ISEKASENTAI, BAKARANGERS!"

The interest in Zorah's eyes dulled. While Yumina did not expressly need to be in disguise to fight in this party, as a mask-wearing person myself how could I deprive her of that joy?

I felt Elze's fingers dig a death grip onto my scalp. "I don't know why but I have a feeling you just said something really insulting just now."

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And so we finally got around to introducing the combatants to each other.

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AN:

Bonus deleted scene:

" if if say you did though, what would you ask?"

We all turned to Linze, who blushed madly and fidgeted in place. "Eeeh?!" Elze shrieked, and recoiled away from her twin sister.

"Elze no kinkshaming," I said hurriedly. And after a pause, "But still wow. You're curious about that, huh?"

Linze put her hands up to hide her face. "P-pretend I didn't say anything!"

"Yes that's right sometimes you really just have to ignore strange things that come out of people's mouths!" Zorah spoke up hurriedly in support.

"Yes, that's right! Tragic sexytimes sadly never happen."

"No one can possibly be that dense but sadly there you go."

What even are you people really? I turned away from the opposite group and back towards the girls.

"Maido."

"Eh?"

"Look at that pompous noblewoman and imagine her in a maid outfit. Serving me for at least two weeks. Living under my roof. Obeying my every whim, realizing the imbalance of power inherent between two social classes that I fearlessly ignore."

Elze blinked. "That's that's a kinda ordinary fantasy," she said slowly. "Playa, I should say that I shouldn't expect /worse/ from you, but that's kinda unexpected too."

"And then IF we lose I would also serve her in the same manner for two weeks WEARING THAT SAME MAID COSTUME," I added. "A truly shameless confident man isn't afraid to wear a skirt, he'll look good in anything."

Elze winced even as Linze went 'hawawawa'. "Yeeeah. That's more what I expected."

I turned towards Zorah and my lips went into :3 shape. "Enough motivation for you?"

"W-what are you even saying, you reprobate?!"

"Or how about this?"

I reached into my pack and brought out a black leather collar.

"Eeek! You- you pervert!" Elze leapt back and made defensive warding knife hand gestures. "Wa-what are you playing at? What are you going to make her do with that thing?"

Linze stared intently at the collar even as she was blushing so red she was almost ready to pass out.

"Do- do you intend on having her walk around with that thing on her neck and NOTHING ELSE?"

I turned back briefly and said " Elze, you are probably a lot more perverted than me, what the heck."

" Noooo!" Elze fell down on knees in despair. "I'm not that kind of giiirl!"

"My gods it's like looking at a mirror," said someone from over at Zorah's side.

I nodded towards Zorah and said "I would have you wear this collar out in public no other change in your daily life, other than this one change in fashion. You are not allowed to just hide away, for one month even when you're talking with other nobles, even when among family, in whatever formal dress let them wonder."

"Oh no! People would think that finally Lady Zorah has been claimed. Is this a miracle?" Zorah's own adventurers spoke up again.

"And she dares to display that proof like some sort of slattern woman?!"

"Oh such shame! Such delicious shame!"

"Worse, because if he had no intention whatsoever of following through so her reputation would be ruined for NOTHING."

"If she doesn't have the honor or the guts to live up to the bet, then it would be hilarious to taunt her about it forever. Foreverrr!"

Ahahaha.

Wait wha-

A sound very much like Evangelion Unit 01's roar came out of Zorah's throat. The air crackled red from a change in [Density] redshifting light itself. Her AT-field manifested and she screamed.

She had gone berserk.

Zorah soon destroyed everything.

And that was why this is non canon.

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