Koujiro gave the Queen an odd look. “What do you mean? I am a King! A hero that should receive a warm welcome wherever I visit!”
“Perhaps, if you had contacted us beforehand.” Katalina’s finger twitched as she tried to contain her annoyance at the man in front of her. She was no longer the sheltered princess that stood before him last time. She was in charge of Sistina now, and Koujiro had barged into ‘her kingdom’ and injured ‘her people’ who were only doing their job.
“Oh, come now. Those are but details. Unimportant drivel. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d rather have a talk with my boy, Claude. There’s no place for a woman in a man’s talk.” Koujiro took another swig while shooing her away.
I could’ve sworn that I heard glass crack from Katalina’s direction. Her face puffed up in anger as she reached into her Item Box and pulled out her dual magic and portal guns.
“Um, Koujiro. I think you’d better listen to her. She is the Queen after all….” I tried to coax him into listening.
“Oh pish, I get enough nagging at home from the girls. The last thing I need is another one ordering me around.”
“No really, that’s not the smartest thing to be saying right now. The Queen is fearsome when angry…,” I said, recalling the few times that she had fought seriously. Especially after the Demon incident, she finally realized just how strong she had become.
“Man, she got you whipped, Claude? How are you going to let some weak girl order you around like some-“
“THAT’S IT!” Katalina yelled as she fired a portal outside into the air, and then, she fired another one behind Koujiro.
Not understanding what she was doing, Koujiro just watched dumbly while she brought her other gun up and clicked the switch. Immediately, a giant plume of fire shot across the room and collided into Koujiro, knocking him into the portal there. With a cry of surprise, he disappeared into it, leaving behind only a charred set of table and chairs in the tavern.
Moments later, we heard a man’s yell growing louder and louder until it was followed by a loud metallic thud. Seemingly, Katalina had sent Koujiro into the sky and tumbling straight to the ground.
“Um…,” I could only stammer out.
“Don’t worry, with a defense and health point rating as high as his, I have calculated that it would only deal just under 25% of his maximum life,” Katalina reassured me with science.
“Alright, then….” I slowly backed away from her to go check up on Koujiro. Either way, I doubt he was going to be happy. Sure enough, he was already on his feet by the time we arrived, having landed in the middle of the main street. His cries while in mid-air had signaled for everyone to clear the way for his impact.
With his sword drawn, Koujiro looked rather pissed.
“Damn it! I don’t normally fight girls, but that really freaking hurt! En garde!” Though he had squared up into a combat position, his stance was a bit wobbly, and he was totally facing the wrong way.
“You okay there? Had a bit too much to drink?” I called out to him.
“Can it! I still have enough sense to go easy on a broad!”
Now, he was going a bit too far with the insults. Even if he was drunk, that didn’t excuse him for insulting the Queen of Sistina. Instinctively, I reached for my knife, but I felt a hand knock against mine. Looking to the side, Katalina shook her head at me.
“No, I’ll deal with him. I’ll show him definitive data that I’m not some weak girl that needs to be protected all the time.”
The look in her eyes, one of utmost focus, made me back off and motion for her to go ahead.
“After you, your Majesty.”
Katalina stepped forward, guns at her side and ready to fight. Not expecting to face her for real, Koujiro hesitated.
“Wait, you’re going to seriously fight me? With your silly toys?”
Not long after he said that, Katalina exchanged the fire magic gun in her hand with her standard ice one via Item Box. With a few quick shots, ice collided into Koujiro’s leg armor, freezing his lower body to the ground.
Shooting more ice bolts into a portal, they ended up smacking him in the back, dealing full damage because he didn’t react fast enough to guard. The impact of those ice shots knocked him forward, forcing him to flail around to correct his stance.
Finding it annoying that he couldn’t move his legs, he brought his sword down and smashed the ice around them. Grunting with rage, he dashed forward to smack Katalina with the flat of his blade. However, she merely leapt backwards into a portal and ended up behind Koujiro. As he turned around to strike, she disappeared again and again, reappearing in the blind spot of each swing through carefully rearranged portals.
“Oi, that’s not fair! What is this? Whack-a-Mole?”
I watched as Katalina continued popping in and out of portals, firing ice at Koujiro’s weak spots. The look of exasperation as he futilely tried to track the ingenious girl had me cracking up. And I was not alone. The townspeople of Gibraltar had gathered to watch the impromptu duel between the two rulers, cheering their queen on.
In the meantime, Koujiro continued to be pelt with ice, creating heavier and heavier layers of coldness weighing him down. Finally, he gnashed his teeth and roared.
A surge of mana rose from him, shattering the ice and kicking up a gust of wind. The swift breeze could be felt many tens of meters away where I stood.
Koujiro channeled his energy into his sword, making it glow bright blue.
“Mana Canceller Slash!”
Koujiro did a spinning slash, creating a wide horizontal arc that collided with objects twenty meters away. The resulting effect blew away any ice and portals within his reach.
With the glowing sword in hand, Koujiro proceeded to smack the next ice shots away, one at a time. He had stepped up his game. Dashing forward, the ice projectiles became crushed snowballs to his blade, regardless of which direction they came from. Now, he was starting to get in his groove.
Just as Koujiro approached Katalina, he leapt over a fiery blast. Seeing that she had exchanged guns, he was prepared to take on whatever the queen hid up her sleeves. With the glowing blade in hand, he would easily cancel her next magic shot and give her a good smack on the head. Magic would hardly do anything against someone with his stats.
‘That would teach her to mess with this world’s champion!’ he brazenly thought.
As he eyed Katalina aim her gun at him in the air, he chambered his next strike to slice through the incoming flamethower. But then, her other gun fired low, catching him off guard.
He had not expected a portal to be fired near his feet. At the last moment, Katalina had created it right between them, leaving him no choice but to fall in. Once again, he accelerated downwards from an unknown height as he was dumped towards the ground. His eyes saw the clouds drifting by as he fell back first, completely sobering him up.
It was a simple blunder. He’d just take another hit in HP, and then be back up again. Yet, when he continued to fall for many more seconds than last time, he started to wonder how high the Queen had sent him.
He couldn’t easily turn around to look at how far he was from the ground. The time he was in the air ticked by for so long that he was starting to get worried. At this rate, his fall would likely kill him. That was the last thing he had expected from the gentle, reserved princess that he met a year ago. Had she changed so drastically in a year?
“That’s not good. I have to do something to break my landing.”
He had a few options. A burst of mana right before he hit the ground would mostly break his fall, since it shot him upwards. Alternatively, he could simply convert his momentum into an attack which would transfer into damage to the ground. The recoil would sting, but that would cause him to bounce off without excess mana usage. This world worked funny like that sometimes.
Koujiro spun his sword, the momentum twisting him to flip over. Interestingly, he saw that the ground wasn’t that far. He moved his sword into position. But then, he noticed a swirling mass below him where he was falling towards. Before he could swing his sword, he slipped into the magic swirl.
All of a sudden, the ground was much farther, throwing his mind into a loop.
‘Wait, what? Why am I so high again?’
It only took a moment for him to realize that what he had fallen into was a portal that had sent him back up into the sky. His eyes widened in surprise. That was why he kept falling. He failed to notice the continuous loop he was placed into by the Queen’s portals.
With this conclusion, he first had to slice through the portal to reach the ground.
“Well, here goes… gotta time it juuuust right-“
All of a sudden, the sword was knocked out of his hand and went flying to the ground away from him. He looked in the direction where the shot came from and saw the tiny form of people below. One of them had fired an ice shot that managed to snipe him at a distance several hundred meters away.
“Well, shit. I’m screwed now.”
Without his sword, he couldn’t channel enough attack power to slice through the portal below. That was the major drawback of the Electi of Proficiency. Without a weapon that boosted his attack by 10x, he had the offensive capabilities of a commoner.
Down at ground level, I had already witnessed several cycles of Koujiro falling into a portal only to be sent back to his starting point. At some point, he must have realized that something was wrong because he spun around to get a better look.
Likely realizing that he was caught in Katalina’s trap, he was about to strike the lower portal until I saw the Inventor Queen aim and fire a single shot. Moments later, the glint of a sword separated from the flailing king who then broke into a panic. We could barely see him flailing and begging in the distance.
“Holy cow, how the hell did you manage to hit his sword from so far away? That can’t have been easy to do for a moving target.”
Of course, Katalina had the perfect answer.
“At this point, he has reached terminal velocity making it rather straightforward to calculate his trajectory as a function of time. Since his positioning is fixed based on this, I simply had to adjust the shot to overlap at the same coordinates. With there being not even a breeze, it’s a simple formula of balancing mathematics-“
“Right, forget that I asked.” I sighed, struggling to understand how she could do these calculations in her head. I felt like a computer program was needed to figure this out.
“GET ME OUUUUUT!!!” Koujiro’s cry in the distance echoed throughout Gibraltar. I was starting to feel sorry for the guy. Unless there was an intervention, he would likely continue to endlessly fall. I looked over at Katalina, discreetly hinting to her about letting him go.
“When I’m over his insults.”
“And that would be… how long?”
“I don’t know. Maybe after a few drinks, on his tab of course.”
Her words caused me to involuntarily shiver. I silently apologized to Koujiro up in the air, as I couldn’t defy the wishes of my queen. He would have to suck it up and deal with it. He had learned the hard way not to mess with the leader of another nation, especially one that wielded her intelligence as a weapon.
The townspeople jeered and laughed at the man who tried to attack their ruler. Their faith in her grew with every passing day. This was just another story to tell travelers who weren’t fortunate enough to witness the power of her Majesty.
But for now, the King of Macali continued to beg for someone to release him from his aerial prison. His cries were soon ignored as background noise while the people went on with the rest of their day. It was another bright afternoon in the Town of Gibraltar.