Side Story: Smiles Make the World Go Round
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
It was Valentines Day, or at least this world’s equivalent. Though it was known instead as the Holy Day of Love, it shared a great many similarities to the traditions that I’d once known on the earth. And how, you ask, might a man with three wives spend such a day? The answer’s simple. In combat, of course.
Lyuu had both arms held out in front of her, and her brows furrowed, as if to fire off a beam of light. Her target? Me.
“Take this, Master! It’s my secret technique, Masked Maid Flame!”
“Useless! That trick’s so old I figured it out before I even picked up the book!” I shouted. “Demon Lord Ice Barrier!”
With a grunt, I crossed my arms in front of my face and dug my feet into the ground, as if to defend against the non-existent fireball flying my way.
“I knew you’d be guardin’ like that! You’ve activated my trap card. It’s the good ol’ Masked Maid Earth Trap! It’s real dangerous, but only activates when someone defends!”
“Graaaaghh!?’ is what I would say, if I actually fell for it, but I’ve got a trick up my sleeve too! My Demon Lord Double Magic Cylinder not only guards against your attack, but returns it twofold. Get rekt! By yourself!”
“I would be real shocked and sayin’ ‘Waaaah!?’, but luckily, I know just what to do! I’m gonna fix myself up real good with a Super Shii Heal!”
The adorable happy-go-lucky slime raised a hand, as if to demonstrate that she’d casted a spell on my derpy dog maid.
“Not bad… not bad at all. If you’re using Shii, then I’m going to pull out the big guns. I activate Wisemaid’s Law of Inverses. All healing in the area will transform into damage from now on. Shii can’t help you anymore!”
“Right away, My Lord.”
The wisemaid waved her index finger from left to right like a metronome, as if to set up the reversal field I’d described. The sheep-horned demon was always quick to catch on and play along without pause, even when called on without any prior warning.
“You ain’t got me yet, Master! I’ve got just the thing to counter you. I play “Lyuu Fails at a Countless Number of Chores.” Now Leila’s gotta relocate ‘n work real hard to fix up everything I messed up. She’s too busy to be keepin’ her skill active!”
“…Is it just me, or does it kind of sound like you’re dissing yourself?”
“Shut up, Master. I’d rather not start thinkin’ about it. Please don’t make me. It really ain’t somethin’ I wanna do.”
Then why’d you use it in the first place? It sounds to me like you just did more mental damage to yourself than I’ve done damage to you period…
At a glance, it didn’t seem like the contest Lyuu and I were engaging in had any rules. We were shouting out awfully specific counters to each other’s techniques, many of which seemed completely random and nonsensical to the average bystander. But in reality, it was actually a rather structured, turn-based, and highly strategic game of wits.
The point of the game was rather straightforward. Both players needed to improvise techniques to trounce their opponent through the use of a weakness-based system. Irrational counters were flat-out rejected. One does not simply defend against water with fire, for example.
To that end, every attack had to correspond to an element in the pool, and each element had its own set of counters. Ie. Wisemaid techniques get trumped by Trashmaid techniques, healing beats damage by undoing it, etc, etc.
Both players also served as referees, and Lyuu and I, being the only two to ever play the game, had long agreed to following a code of conduct that prioritized sportsmanship. So basically, if you feel like you deserve to get rekt, you probably aren’t weaseling your way out of getting rekt.
Our longest back and forth, which had lasted roughly thirty turns, had concluded in a draw. We had no other choice. Lefi had reminded us that it was late, and that we were the only two who had yet to bathe, so we’d been obligated to call the match off. Now that I think about it, we aren’t keeping track of health or life points anyway, so that’s pretty much how most of them end… Oh well, whatever.
Errr, wait a second, I can frame this better. It’s not that we can’t close out games, it’s just that our battle is one of such epic proportions that it can’t be so easily settled. Yeah, that. We’re totally not just dicking around, and it’s totally not all just nonsense. Yup. Totally.
“Master? You’re spacin’ out. It’s your turn,” said Lyuu. “Or are you just gonna give ‘n lemme win this one?”
“That’s not happening, and you know it,” I said. “I was just getting ready to show you some real shenanigans. It’s time for me to draw out the true essence of a demon lo—”
“We have finished preparing the meal. It is time for you to join us.”
Lefi stuck her head out of the kitchen door and called for us right as I was about to show Lyuu my final form.
Lyuu and I responded in tandem, then joined Shii and Leila in heading over to the holiday meal that awaited.
And so, on that day, a universal truth was established: not even a battle waged with the full extent of one’s soul could possibly win against the rumble of one’s stomach.
“Impressed, Yuki?” Lefi crossed her arms and puffed out her chest with pride. “It is none other than the Supreme Cake.”
“Yeah, like, honestly, wow.”
She wasn’t the only one putting her delight on display. The wraith girls, the kids, and Lyuu were all doing the same. Only Nell and Leila were acting any differently. The two stood behind the others, as would a pair of guardians. Wait, why’s Lyuu acting all proud? I swear all she did was mess around with me.
…Actually, on second thought, I guess she probably helped out with her fair share of the cooking before she started keeping me busy. Huh, fancy that, Lyuu actually did good.
My criticism had only fallen onto the dog-eared maid because I knew that Shii and Leila had done their parts before joining us. The former had left as not to get in the way of those who had yet to finish, whereas the latter would likely have wrapped everything up herself without the need for any assistance had she not exited stage right early.
“We have learned from the mistake made last year, Yuki,” said Lefi. “This time, we have collaborated and dedicated ourselves to the creation of a single sweet. You will no longer struggle to forcefully consume every last morsel, and we too can share in the delight.”
“Butter it up all you want, but you and I both know that the sharing part is the real reason you did it this way.”
“Indeed. Any concern for you was but a coincidence,” she said.
“Thanks everyone. I’m super happy.” I responded with a chuckle before scanning the rest of the entries in the n-course meal. “Everything looks so amazing.”
“Yup yup! Everyone did lots!” said Illuna. “I made this, and then Shii made this, Enne made this, And Rei made…”
She pointed at a bunch of different dishes and listed off the creator of each as she did. I realized it would take forever for her to go through everything, so I pat her on the head and moved things along.
“So what you’re trying to say is that it’s only this amazing because everyone worked together to make it happen, right?”
“Mhm! That’s right!”
“You can tell me all about who did what while we eat, ‘kay? I’m super hungry, and I can’t wait to get started.”
“Oh, okay! Then let’s get started right away!”
“You’ll get to eat loooots! Then your tummy will be full, and you’ll be happy!” said Shii.
The two near-identical looking girls took me by the hand and pulled me over to my seat.