“But she is Duke’s chosen partner….
I guess she’d obvs have to be like that to catch his eye,” Mel continues under her breath like she’s given up.
“Sorry for calling you cruel,” she says seriously, abruptly bowing her head to me.
I’m surprised by the sudden gesture.
And Gilles must be as well, since he’s also staring at her wide-eyed.
I never thought that someone would ever apologize to me like this.
As a villainess, it’s not like there are people just lining up to offer excuses for their misdemeanors, and plus I’m living in the world of nobility.
Here, pride is often more important than your own life which makes apologies hard to come by.
To admit guilt and own up to one’s mistakes may seem like an obvious thing to do by modern standards, but in this world asking for an apology is akin to pulling teeth.
So for Mel to apologize to me so readily… and to be sincere about it… Contrary to expectation, she seems to have been brought up quite well.
She might even turn out to be a decent sort of person….
“But, ya know I think Master’s had it pretty rough these last couple years too, Ali-Ali~ I know, I know. You had nothing to do with it, it wasn’t your fault.
Will you just hear me out for a sec” Mel asks with a slightly bitter smile on her face.
I give a small nod.
Since classes are in session right now, there’s no one around to interrupt us.
That makes this the perfect time to talk.
“Did ya know Liz Cather, has been something else from the veeeery beginning.
The first time she showed her face in front of Duke and his friends, she started yammering about how it’s weird to treat people differently.
How you shouldn’t judge people based on social status.
And how nobles are just people too, so ‘can’t we all be friends’ Albert-Sama and Gayle-Sama must have found her endearing and unique or something.
Since, because their families are at the top of the food chain, they’re just used to people acting all reserved around them, right”
As soon as she said Liz-san’s name, Mel’s expression turns sour, like she just crunched a bitter, disgusting bug between her teeth.
Does she find Liz-san that distasteful to deal with Though, for sure, any normal person would think that someone spouting such nonsense from their first meeting would be completely insane.
Even commoners of this world should have a clear understanding of what the class system is like, so for Liz-san to undermine our whole political system in front of the future leaders of the country….
anyone would think her mad.
Wait, did she say Albert-Sama and Gayle-Sama So she calls her master by his name, but she adds honorifics when talking about my brother or their friends
“You’ve been observing her from the very beginning” Gilles asks her, a strange expression on his face.
Wait, that’s a good point.
If Mel’s been observing Liz-san’s actions since the beginning, why wasn’t she appointed the role of being Liz-san’s monitor
I’m usually around, but I’ve got this awesome ability that let’s me totally erase my presence,” Mel says puffing out her chest and laughing proudly.
So, even though her appearance is that flashy, she can conceal herself in plain sight
The scariest type of person is the chaotic wild-card you don’t see coming.
“Anyways… So, Liz Cather shows up all thick-headed and oblivious and ends up getting under everybody’s skin, right And everyone’s all curious about her cause she’s this new, sparkly, pretty little thing.
Curiosity’s great! But she mistakes their curiosity for genuine interest! I mean, how dense can you be! The girl literally could not read the mood if it smacked her in the face.
And then something crazy starts happening.
The curiosity and slight annoyance they all felt for her starts becoming something else.
Soon, they start feeling good about her, and then it’s all over.”
“By that point, she’ll have completely seized control of their hearts, albeit unintentionally,” Gilles jumps in immediately, agreeing with her assessment.
Mel lightly bites at her fingernail and glares menacingly at the ground.
Even her adorable face isn’t enough to make her look cute while acting like that.
She must truly despise Liz-san.
The bright, airy tone that she had started out talking with seems like a lie.
Now, every word is heavy and sharp, like it’s filled with poison.
“Mel, have you ever actually interacted with Liz-san” I ask.
“I’ve only seen her from afar.”
“Why is it that Duke didn’t fall for Liz Cather’s charms” Gilles ponders aloud, one hand supporting his chin.
I’ve been wondering about that myself.
Why didn’t Duke-Sama fall in love with Liz-san She’s beautiful, altruistic, kind, pure-hearted, innocent… isn’t she basically every guys’ dream girl
“…..Hmm~ I wonder.
Isn’t that because he already met another more captivating, charismatic girl first” Mel says, glancing none-too-discreetly my way.
Huh Is she talking about me
Although I fully admit that I’m not anything like an ordinary young noble girl, I should still be quite a far-cry from being Duke-Sama’s ideal type.
Could it be that leaving a strong impression in Duke-Sama’s mind before Liz-san even appeared was a bad thing But, I’m just supposed to be a hateful villain….
Of course I need to make an impression…!
“Ali-Ali, your thoughts are totally different from Liz Cather’s, right Liz Cather’s ideals are great and all.
And they aren’t exactly wrong.
But that’s all they are.
Ideals,” Mel says, smiling in a way that sends a wave of dread washing over me.
“She’s not doing anything about them.
But Ali-Ali, you’re always looking realistically towards the future.
Your ideas may seem cruel, but they are achievable, and you act on them….
Like how you’ve been regularly visiting the impoverished village–“
Mel abruptly stops talking mid-sentence, shutting her mouth with a snap.
Her expression is one that says she just blurted out something that she shouldn’t have.
…..How did she know that I’ve been visiting the impoverished village
Could the fact that she knows mean that Duke-Sama knows about my nightly visits as well
“Mel, how do you know about that”
“Did you hear about it from Duke A servant is bound to be influenced by her master.
That would explain why you’re so hostile towards Liz Cather and why you like Alicia so much despite never having talked with her before.”
Although he should only be speculating, Gilles speaks matter-of-factly, as if he’s already sure that he’s right.
Is he really only 11 years old He’s more eloquent than actual adults.
“Exxxxxxactly~! As expected! You’re quick to catch on, aren’tcha! Gilles, you’re from the impoverished village yourself, right My master ran a background check on you right~ from the beginning! Ooh, and his face was price~less when he found out.
He was nearly beside himself worrying about you, Ali-Ali, but of course he didn’t let you actually see that, did he” Mel says in a bubbly, excited tone while smiling gleefully.
Her expressions and mannerisms really do change at the drop of a hat.
Out of all the people that I’ve ever met, she’s got to be the one with the biggest personality.
So, how is it that she didn’t make it into the game I can’t help but find it strange that she didn’t appear at all.
I know she wouldn’t have been one of the main characters, but as a side character, I’m sure she would gathered a decent amount of fans even with just a minor role.
“Ali-Ali, he’s constantly worried and checking that there’s nothing dangerous hanging around you. Oh–! But it’s not like he’s having someone spy on you or anything, so don’t worry! I think he’s actually been holding himself back pretty well with just watching over you himself when he get’s the chance.
But then again~ You never asked him to watch over you, so even doing that is a bit much~”
…..Ouch. That last remark hurt.
But I deserved it.
I made my bed, so I have no choice but to obediently lie in it now.
“It was about a year after you stopped attending the school, Ali-Ali, that suddenly everybody started talking bad about you.
Or, I guess… more than usual They probs thought you were never coming back at that point!” Mel says unhesitatingly.
…..The more I talk with her, the more I get the feeling that this girl and I will really get along.
“You’re not the least bit nervous saying that in front of the person in question, huh”
“It’s not like you care about that stuff anyway, right Ali-Ali”
“You’ve already figured out my personality to that extent Impressive.”
“Ali-Ali praised me~!!”
“Aren’t you supposed to be the oldest, wisest person here Hurry up and get on with your point,” Gilles says, casting his eyes to the sky in exasperation.
His expression tells me that he’s just about had it with her meandering story-telling.
He really might be the most mature out of the three of us.
Mel’s face falls into a slight pout, but she still continues telling her story, even if her voice is a lot less animated than before.
“Of course, the worse the gossip got about you, the fouler Duke’s mood became.
It didn’t take long until there was a constant scowl on his face.
He had literally stopped smiling entirely….
and that was when Liz Cather made her move.
She started going up to him all the time and badgering him.
‘Shall we go get some tea together’ ‘I would really like to see you smile.’ etc.
Those lines do indeed sound like a heroine of an otome game.
Usually, those words would be enough to turn the tables undeniably in her favor, but seeing as Duke-Sama apparently likes me, hearing stuff like that all the time probably just made things worse.
After a while of that, just seeing her face must have been revolting to him.
“Ali-Ali, it’s exactly as you’re imagining.
Duke’s attitude towards her just kept getting colder and colder.”
“But, Liz Cather couldn’t take the hint.
She thought he was acting that way because he was feeling sad or lonely so she just became all the more persistent.
She started doggedly sticking to him, desperately trying to get him to open his heart to her,” Gilles adds as if continuing the story from where Mel left off.
He says it as if he had actually been there and saw it all himself.
Mel’s eyes go wide as she stares at him.
“You already heard”
But since it’s Liz Cather we’re talking about, I just figured it would be something like that.”
Mel looks closely at Gilles with interest now.
Even though she had looked at him so coldly when we first met…
But, the the fact that Mel’s attitude towards Gilles seems to be quickly changing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
On the contrary, it’s nice to see.
If Liz-san were to find out that Gilles is from the impoverished village, she would surely start treating him like some pitiful little child.
She’d probably express her sympathies saying, ‘Even though we’re all human, to think you had to go through something so cruel!’
However Mel was suspicious and wary of Gilles from the onset, and made sure to observe him carefully.
And, after observing him for a while, it didn’t matter that he came from a place that the whole world looks down on with disgust and hatred, she became interested in him as a person.
And I’m sure in the end, she’ll grow quite fond of him regardless of his background.
That’s so much more admirable than Liz-san’s blind pity.
Mel also said that she liked me from the get-go, but I’m sure that was a conclusion she came to after extensive observation.
“Um, Mel Do you know where Duke-Sama might be right now”
“During this time of day… He’s probably at the dining hall.”
“He’s in the dining hall” Gilles asks, surprised.
Duke-Sama actually goes to the school’s dining hall No way. I can’t imagine it.
“Well, I said dining hall, but what I meant was that he’s probably on the terrace that only the student council can eat at,” Mel adds seeing our disbelieving expressions.
Ah! So that’s what she meant.
Of course someone on Duke-Sama’s level wouldn’t take his meals with the regular students.
“Ali-Ali, are you going to go find Duke now”
I have some things that I want to say and some things that I want to ask him,” I explain, and then I start walking out of the forest.
I may only have attended the academy for a short time, but I still at least remember how to get to the dining hall.
I hadn’t walked more than a few steps before I noticed that Mel’s presence had completely disappeared.
Gilles seems to have realized it as well.
….What a fearsome skill.
If she’s able to conceal her presence in an instant like that, then it wouldn’t be strange for her to appear out of thin air at any given moment.
As expected of Duke-Sama’s servant.
“What sort of magic does Mel use, anyway”
I had only been muttering to myself in thought, but Mel’s voice answered seemingly out of nowhere…..
I guess that means she’s still close by.
But wait, did she just say earth magic This is the first time I’ve met someone who uses that element!
I’ve always found it a bit odd that earth magic users were treated as mob-like characters in the game….
Usually, wouldn’t it be one of the main elements
Well, there’s no use questioning that now.
I need to hurry up and find Duke-Sama.
With that thought in mind, I quicken my pace a bit and forge on ahead.