The sound of game pieces hitting the board resounded in the room.
Leon advanced his pieces, but his opponent showed no change in expression, striking back without hesitation as if everything was according to plan.
The endgame was approaching, and Leon began to think more. He knew that his formation hadn’t been good since the midgame, but it wasn’t so bad that it was a sure loss for him. There could be an opportunity for a comeback.
“You took too long to admit defeat.”
Leon finally surrendered, and was criticized harshly.
His opponent was a clever looking girl with cool, thin eyes. She was beautiful, yet cold.
As the daughter of the marquis, she was a little arrogant in her criticism. Besides, Leon didn’t know when the match had already been decided.
“Go easy on me. Next time, you should play against Miss Mariwa or someone else.”
Miss Toinette is a busy person. I would feel bad asking her to indulge in games like this.
They were evenly matched when they were young, but she had improved a lot since then. Nevertheless he still played a few matches against her, but his chances of winning dropped drastically.
He wondered if she could win against Chris now.
In any case, there was no way he could outmatch Surfania at this point.
“It’s true that Miss Mariwa is a little busy. ……By the way, Michelie and Prince Charles have enrolled, right?”
Even as he brought up their acquaintances, her reaction was bare. Anyone who didn’t know her better would think she was a curt, cruel and cold person.
She only had one word to say about the Academy filled with upper class children and talented commoners.
Surfania Calibrachoa, the wicked daughter of the marquis.
This was how she rated the Academy.
She showed no mercy towards anything she didn’t like. There were rumors about her seducing boys and girls alike with her beauty, while acting as the mastermind for every corrupt practice committed in the Academy. This was in no small part due to her cold appearance and demeanor.
She couldn’t completely and utterly deny the rumors because she was in fact unfriendly, but she wasn’t skilled enough to seduce anyone. Perhaps that part of the rumors was because Leon was always with her.
After all, Leon was a commoner, while Surfania herself was the daughter of a highly ranked noble. Normally there should be nothing in common between them, but they were seen together since they enrolled in the Academy. As a result, rumors began to spread about how she was able to seduce him.
But she never debated against the rumors. Perhaps it was because dealing with the rumors was a hassle in itself. Leon ignored them too, thinking that such idle rumors would go away eventually. If anyone bothered to get to know Surfania better, they would know that she could be bossy sometimes, but was just bashful. For better or worse, that was just her personality.
However, her identity as a villainess became set in stone due to a certain incident.
“Leaving the prince aside, how is the wicked girl doing?”
“She’s surprisingly normal. She’s taking classes and spreading her circle of friends.”
Surfania never addressed Michelie by name. Perhaps she simply hated her. Also, she still held a grudge from years ago when Michelie made her cry. That’s why she called her a wicked girl.
“Knowing Michelie, I thought she would have done something to Christina the moment she enrolled.”
“Yes. Or perhaps, even before she enrolled.”
“Whoa, that’s scary……”
It was definitely possible. Leon trembled in shock.
He recalled Michelie’s innocent smile. According to her personality, she would do anything within her realm for the sake of Chris while maintaining that smile.
“Her life of peace within the Academy seems far out of reach. ……How is Christina doing? I heard she broke up her own fan club or something.”
“I wouldn’t care to hear about such stupid things.”
Still with a blank expression, Surfania reset the board for another game.
Leon himself was shocked when he heard it, but Surfania had a point too.
“On top of that, she’s been getting involved with a really idiotic first year student. Do you know of a Lady Freesia Istar?”
“I do. They’re a matching pair.”
He caught a glimpse of Surfania looking stern.
“Hm? What’s wrong? Are you jealous that Chris has a new friend? You’re narrow-minded as always.”
“That’s obviously not the case. ……She disbanded her fan club right after that wicked girl enrolled. Isn’t it obvious what she’s doing, personally crushing something that was made as a sign of good will towards her?”
“You mean Chris standing against Michelie and ruining herself? You’re really into that, Surfania. I don’t think that’s it though.”
Surfania sounded displeased. Most of it was directed towards Michelie.
“Ruining herself for the sake of her sister isn’t what that idiot would do.”
Surfania was half confident about that theory, while Leon was completely suspicious about it.
To Leon, Chris was willful and optimistic. Most of all, she would never give up. If anything, she would have found a more optimistic approach.
Most importantly, Mariwa Toinette would never allow that to happen. Leon could say that with confidence as a student of the same teacher. That, and as long as she didn’t have complete confidence in her plans, she wouldn’t choose such a pessimistic course of action, even for Michelie’s sake.
There was one more thing.
“Even Chris wouldn’t do such a thing if she wasn’t certain that Michelie would be unhappy in the future.”
“That’s precisely why we are investigating. Have you discovered anything about that wicked girl’s origins?”
Michelie’s origins. In order to understand the motivations of Chris, and in order to understand who Michelie was before she was adopted by the Noir family, Surfania gathered information among the upper classes, while Leon did the same among the middle classes. It was a lot harder than they expected, and there was little information they could obtain.
“It’s not public information, but there was someone who testified that he saw someone who looked just like Michelie. He ran a stall downtown, a long time ago.”
“Someone who resembles that wicked girl. Who was it?”
“The late princess, Evelia Edward.”
It was as she expected. Surfania’s eyes became thinner as she began thinking.
“The lady who was more valuable than gold, and who proposed the dismantlement of the privileged classes…… That wicked girl is the most bothersome within the royal bloodline.”
“It’s not a hard fact though.”
“Speculations are fine at this point. Even fragmented and vague things can take shape when you piece them together, and if not, we can fill up the gaps with our imagination. Now I can roughly understand what that idiot and that wicked girl are trying to do.”
“Merely based on speculation?”
“I must say I have a rather vivid imagination.”
Surfania sounded certain. Putting speculations together and filling the gaps with deduction was something she was good at, but not for Leon.
“Anyway, let’s stop beating around the bush and make up with Christina already, Surfania. If we apologize, things may go back to the way they were, you know.”
“No way. Why do I of all people have to apologize?”
Leon looked at Surfania, who still managed to put up a straight face.
She was behaving childishly, in spite of her status as the greatest villainess in the Academy.
“I have done nothing wrong at all.”
“Nothing wrong at all, huh.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
She began to sulk. Leon sighed in silence.
The rumors about Surfania were not entirely due to her unfriendliness. There was a certain event that contributed to this.
It happened when Christina and Surfania saw each other by chance.
“The battle between the daughter of the Noir family and the Calibrachoa family……”
Surfania heard Leon say that and turned away.
It had been almost two years. Shortly after their enrollment, Surfania bumped into Chris and gave her a good scolding.
Chris had suddenly cut off her ties with Surfania before their enrollment, and Surfania never got any news about Chris after that. She must have held it in for a long time, and finally exploded when she saw Chris in front of a huge crowd. She scolded her so badly that Leon was dumbfounded, and Chris almost cried.
Since then, the image of Surfania and Chris stayed the same.
The cruel and merciless villainess, and the reliable girl who got scolded to the point where she looked helpless.
In a way, Chris became even more popular than she had been, thanks to Surfania the villainess.
In that situation alone, Leon sympathized Chris.
“You almost made her cry, you know? Where did you learn to scold someone like that anyway?”
“I simply improved my vocabulary from reading entertainment novels.”
“Those novels clearly aren’t good for education.”
Surfania showed no remorse for her unladylike behavior. She ignored Leon and picked up a book to read.
“I don’t really care. In fact, I couldn’t be happier distancing myself from everyone like that. Unlike Chris, I find it a bother to be loved by everyone.”
Her unfriendliness and hobbies never changed. Nor did her personality. In that sense, she never matured a single bit.
However, she ceased being a weakling. She had gained the ability to analyze things calmly, just as her appearance demanded.
She was growing up, even if just a little.
“Since you’re refusing to patch things up, what are you going to to?”
“Could you stop asking such obvious questions?”
Surfania answered while flipping the pages of her book.
She began to betray her cold appearance, as if he had lit a fire in her.
“I’m going to grab her by the collar and give her a good beating.”
“Don’t do that.”
Leon sympathized with Chris, so he gave the violent girl a strong warning.