“Hmm, maybe this would be better after all…” I say as I add a few markings to the blackboard.
The old library that we’re currently in is for the most part unused.
Which is precisely why Gilles and I often come here to discuss things together.
This is also the same place where I wrote my thoughts on how to bring the Ravaal Kingdom under our leadership a couple years ago.
At that time, there hadn’t been a single soul using the room when I got here….
Though that might have been more so because class had been in session.
Regardless of the time though, this room is traversed far more infrequently than the new library.
And I’d take the calming, quiet atmosphere here over shiny new books in a bustling, cavernous room any day.
“But, with this number of troops, you’d be able to defeat them in an instant if you just set up an ambush right here,” Gilles notes, tapping a finger on the blackboard.
“Since we’re just playing around, why would I let things end so easily I’d rather draw things out, torment them a bit before accepting their unconditional surrender.”
We often like to play strategy games when we come here.
We don’t bother too much with coming up with complicated settings and backstories for everything, we just use whatever ideas come to mind first.
But it’s still fun.
“Personally, I’d do something like this,” says a deep voice from behind me as a large, attractive hand reaches up to draw his own interpretation on the blackboard.
At the same time, he rests his other hand heavily down on my head.
This voice and these hands…..
could only belong to Duke-Sama.
How did he even know I was here
I completely ignore whatever he’s writing on the board and just turn back to glare at him.
“Might I ask you to not interrupt our game”
“Your angry face is also very cute,” Duke-Sama says, grinning.
……He’s obviously making fun of me right now.
But even though I know that, my heart can’t help but beat a bit harder.
Ugh, I hate how easily I respond to this man.
I give a small sigh and then reply.
“I just can’t understand you, Duke-Sama.”
“I’m just doing as you asked and speaking my mind.”
“…..Oh, really Is that all Well, I’m certain you are doing this on purpose, aren’t you”
“What am I doing” Duke-Sama asks, his face making it obvious that he’s only playing dumb.
“You’re clearly trying to make my heart feel like it’s going to explode with those casual remarks of yours…..”
As soon as the words come out of my mouth, I instantly regret them.
I basically just admitted that I’m overly aware of him.
Although it’s not like it isn’t true, saying such a thing out loud is extremely embarrassing.
For a moment, Duke-Sama’s eyes go wide, but a second later his usual teasing, devilish smirk is back in place.
“Oh~ So I make your heart beat so hard it feels like it might explode”
“What’s that expression supposed to mean” I ask, glowering at him.
At the same time, I can feel my own face heating up.
For some reason, I seem to be rather weak to this man.
But that provocative smile and that gaze that always appears to see right through me put butterflies in my stomach and leave me weak at the knees.
“A smile and a remark should be much better than putting my thoughts into action, wouldn’t you say” Duke-Sama whispers in a serious, almost conspiratorial tone.
…..I always thought that he would on his thoughts rather regularly though
“Duke, about what you wrote here….
If you do this, then you won’t be able to take down the enemy’s leader,” Gilles says thoughtfully, his eyes glued to the blackboard.
He seems to have ignored our earlier exchange entirely in favor of pondering over Duke-Sama’s solution to our make-believe war.
Hearing this, I also take a peak at what he wrote.
“Oh, he’s right.
If you do it like this, then the troops’ commanding officer will be able to run away.”
“As long as their subordinates remain, no commanding officer would escape by themselves,” Duke-Sama says with an unconcealed glint in his eye.
With his true thoughts leaking through when he smiles, it almost feels like I’m looking at the devil himself.
Seeing his expression sends a slight shiver running through me.
Somehow, he looks like he’s having fun.
“Instead of taking them out all at once, it will be much more beneficial to take your time here and thoroughly crush them, don’t you think” Duke-Sama clarifies.
So leave the head alive in order to be able to make him obey, huh” Gilles says, thinking it over.
“That’s the sort of thinking that Liz-san would hate,” I happily add.
“And~ if you keep the head alive and annihilate all his troops right in front of him, you can completely~ break his spirit and watch him go crazy!” a high pitched voice from seemingly out of nowhere cries gleefully.
It’s accompanied by a sweet fragrance wafting on the air.
…..She really does like to pop out as she pleases.
“And What are you doing here, Mel” Gilles demands.
“Hey now~ What’s with that face! Aren’t you happy to see me~” Mel says in reply to Gilles’s scowl, popping a bright pink, sweet looking candy into his unsuspecting mouth.
“Plus!! Mentally and emotionally torturing the commanding officer like that fits in perfectly with Ali-Ali’s strategy to draw things out and torment them!” Mel declares excitedly, her eyes sparkling in delight.
Gilles’s face looks pinched as he stares at her distastefully around the hard candy shoved in his cheek.
As per usual, she’s saying some pretty disturbing stuff with that adorably cute face of hers.
Moreover, she just blatantly admitted to eavesdropping on our whole conversation.
I also get the feeling that my idea of tormenting them by drawing things out and her idea of mental and emotional torture are a somehow fundamentally different from each other….
“I’m sure Alicia meant she’d physically torment them, not destroy their sanity,” Gilles says tiredly.
It’s as if he read my mind.
“Then, on top of crushing the leader’s spirit, you also want to beat him senseless I like the way you think!” Mel says smacking her lips around the candy she’d just popped into her own awaiting mouth.
Every time I see her, I can’t help but find it odd that such a strong character like Mel didn’t show up during the game.
Was it just an oversight made by the game’s producers
“That really isn’t a bad idea,” Gilles says seriously, stroking his chin.
Even though it’s just a game, if Liz-san were to hear how cruel our strategies are, she’d likely faint….
Wow, my allies may seem nice and beautiful on the outside….
but on the inside, they are all so calculating and despicable, every single one of them.
But despite all that, somehow Liz-san, the idealistic saintess, is bound to win out in the end…..
“Hmm, then next I think we should consider what we’d do if their commanding officer really did run away,” Duke-Sama says.
“But Duke, you said earlier that it wouldn’t happen,” Gilles objects.
“I did, but there’s always a chance that something unexpected might happen, so our military tactics should account for every considerable scenario.”
We should have a variety of strategies at the ready just in case,” I add.
Duke-Sama smiles brilliantly at my words.
“So fun~ I like this game!” Mel exclaims energetically.
We continue to chat comfortably like this, just enjoying our dreamlike time together for a while longer, until Henry-Oniisama comes to find us.