The match between Leon and Surfania ended with Surfania winning.
It seemed as if she could hardly believe that her victory was real.
Well, in truth, this was her first victory ever. She had only played this game against me up until now, which meant that she had never won. And so this one win must have been quite special for her.
“I won… I won! Chris, I won!”
…Perhaps I had beaten her a little too much. I could not help but feel a tinge of guilt as Surfania made a report of her victory, her face had the biggest smile.
“Oh, that’s great, Surfania.”
“Congratulations Miss Surfania!”
While I could not hide the guilt that showed on my face, Mishuli sincerely congratulated Surfania on her win. Surfania looked genuinely pleased as she accepted our compliments before turning back to see her next opponent. Her face now was so much more lively than it had been at the mansion.
A smile came to me naturally as well, as I saw my friend while she moved the pieces on the board.
I was glad that I had brought her alone too, and not just Mishuli.
“And you, don’t you dare run away.”
In spite of having lost, Leon did not look one bit upset as he hurriedly tried to get up and leave. But I grabbed him by the collar to stop him.
“W-what, can I do for you?”
Not only did he make no complaints about my forceful way of stopping him, but he even spoke politely. I wondered where the arrogance he had when falling into our mansion went, but then again, this was only the expected way to treat one of my social standing. Aside from that, this boy had an unnecessary level of fear towards me, so perhaps his behavior was justified.
“Mmm. There is just something that I’d like to confirm. That is all.”
Leon may have been from common stock, but he was depicted as being incredibly talented in ‘Labyrinth Destiny.’
I asked him in a small voice so that Surfania, who was now playing against a different opponent, could not hear.
“You, I don’t suppose you were taking it easy on her in that last match?”
“Impossible. She was really very good.”
He had answered without delay, so I decided that he must be telling the truth.
Had he been doing any such thing as allowing her to win, I might have had him publicly executed. But I couldn’t blame him if this was an honest result of the game.
“But more importantly, why on earth are you here in a place like this? Um…”
“It’s Christina. Also, you don’t have to talk so politely. …We are here incognito.”
I had just remembered that I had never introduced myself, so I give him my name with my family name excluded. I added an explanation as Leon looked confused when I told him that he did not need to speak politely, and he seemed to be satisfied with it.
“Hmm. Well, it would look weird if you’re here incognito and I talked to you so politely, I guess.”
While that was very true, it was somehow very annoying to see him switch back so nonchalantly.
“So, um, Mishuli…”
“Oh, that’s it. Do you want to try this game too, Mishuli? It’s quite fun!”
“…yes, ignore me then.”
I wasn’t ignoring him. I had noticed his obnoxious gaze repeatedly moving towards Mishuli, and so I had intercepted his attempt to talk to her.
Mishuli did not seem to notice this minor battle erupting between me and Leon, as she thought for a moment before asking:
“Do you play this game too, sister?”
“Yes, I do!”
“Are you good?”
“I am incredibly good!”
I puff out my chest. It was no exaggeration either. As a genius, I was so strong that not even an adult could beat me.
Hearing this, Mishuli’s face lit up.
“Then I will try it too!”
I smile at the predictably adorable reply.
“Well then, go over there so they can teach you the rules.”
Aside from the free space underneath this awning, there was also a beginners area, which was most nice of them to prepare. I pointed to the instructor there who was teaching some other children on how to move the pieces. Mishuli’s eyes blinked.
“Uh, umm… Are you not going to teach it to me?”
Of course, usually, I would have been delighted to be her instructor.
But today, I was a different person.
“Today is a festival, you know. …You should go and have fun with other people too.”
I told Mishuli in a sage-like voice that was appropriate for an older sister.
Mishuli’s eyes which had been glowing not a moment ago, now trembled with confusion, as if she could not understand why I was saying such things.
“…I, I want you to teach me.”
“I can’t. Mishuli. There are other people besides me.”
At last, Mishuli fell silent because she did not understand what I was saying. But this was something that I had decided on as part of my plan for independence.
I had to get Mishuli involved with people other than myself.
That was my true purpose today. That was why I had chosen this busy area.
“Mi-Mishuli. If you’re worried, I can teach–”
“That would be even worse. Shut up and stand over there, fool.”
“–Why should I! Don’t you think you’re being a little harsh on me!?”
Not at all. I was being very magnanimous by allowing him to even talk without being polite.
“Now, Mishuli. …Go on.”
I gently pushed her back so she would move forward.
One step, two steps. That was as far as she went before she turned around. She was smiling as her eyes met mine.
Neither of us said anything, but we both knew what the other was feeling.
Then she turned back and walked towards the beginner’s area without hesitation.
I smiled somewhat bitterly, as emotions rose within me upon seeing her back when she walked away.
I had expected to feel like this, but it was still a little lonely.