Chapter 34:

[Intermission] Hide and Seek

My Demon Queen

Upon completion, I now have a gist understanding of how 'science' works. Rather than it being an extension of life, it seeks to explain the already natural phenomenon that happens all around us. Unlink magic which requires the intensive study of the new, science was taking the already present and reconstructing it anew.Bookmark here

At least-- such was my opinion.Bookmark here

"Hey Liliath."Bookmark here

"Yes?"Bookmark here

Putting his book down, he approached me. To speak the truth, I do find Noel similar to myself in the sense that he is diligent in his studies.Bookmark here

"Let's play a game, look."Bookmark here

Flashing a confused expression, I took to the display of his 'phone' that I could never seem to get used to.Bookmark here

//Bookmark here

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Current Points: 195Bookmark here

Quests: Gaining affection:Bookmark here

Play around with her hair. 10PBookmark here

...Bookmark here

Quests: Introductions:Bookmark here

Learn about her favorite food. 20PBookmark here

...Bookmark here

Quests: Gaining trust:Bookmark here

*Find something that both you and Liliath agree with. 10PBookmark here

...Bookmark here

Quests: Utilization:Bookmark here

Play hide and seek with Liliath, 2 rounds. 20PBookmark here

...Bookmark here

Quests will be refreshed daily. Quests that have been completed will be prioritized else the user can select up to 1 quest per category to remove. (removed quests will be refreshed the next day)Bookmark here

Max quest for each category: 1 (Upgradable) (14/20)Bookmark here

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I'm sorry I have yet to learn about my favourite food Noel-- I will be sure to tell you about it the moment I learn of it.Bookmark here

That was the first thought that came to me when I saw the list.Bookmark here

The next thought, or to put in other words, the quests I saw that piqued my interest-- could it be referring to the game Noel mentioned?Bookmark here

"The game you are referring to would be hide and seek?"Bookmark here

"Yup, do you know the rules?"Bookmark here

"Apparently not," i believe this is one of the games the heroes have mentioned in the old archives. Though I have read of it, I have forgotten most of the rules.Bookmark here

However, the gist of the game revolves around a hunter hunting the hunted. The hunted fleeing from the pursuer's grasp-- i assume?Bookmark here

"It's a simple game as the name suggests, hiding and seeking. One person hides while the other tries to find the person hiding. The seeker would close his or her eyes and then count to whatever predetermined amount-- 30 seconds i guess? And the seeker would try to find a spot to hide. You can't really hide forever, especially in the house where there's basically not many good hiding spots-- It's usually played with a bunch of people, the winner being the one last to be found. But in our case it's just the two of use so.."Bookmark here

Novelle-sama was undergoing education at an institution or with the common terminology here: school.Bookmark here

"The basics of being a seeker would then require me to count to 30 whilst the hider attempts to hide?"Bookmark here

"Yes, so you're alright being the seeker first?"Bookmark here

I nodded to his suggestion.Bookmark here

"Turn around and close your eyes."Bookmark here

Adhering to his words, I did what I was told and started counting.Bookmark here

"One, two, three.."Bookmark here

So the rules of the game were as i thought, though it was less brutal than what I thought it described.Bookmark here

I felt Noel's presence frantic around the place, he scampered around here and there as if he was unsure of the spot he would pick.Bookmark here

It seemed that he had sought the first floor, up the stairs.Bookmark here

"Twenty-two, twenty three.."Bookmark here

His presence could be felt behind the door of his personal room.Bookmark here

"Thirty," at said word, I opened my eyes and proceeded up the stairs.Bookmark here

The game revolves around the hunter seeking the hunted. I would be the predator, Noel the prey. It seemed Noel wasn't taking the game seriously-- or could this be his limit? He was sure to be killed if he played such a game in my world.Bookmark here

Reaching the end of the stair, I saw Diana-sama carrying a stack of papers… reminding me of paperwork.. dreadful paperwork.Bookmark here

"Liliath?" Holding the papers in a shifted position, she called out.Bookmark here

"Do you need assistance?" I felt a sense of pity for Diana-sama. I didn't think paperworks existed in this world too--Bookmark here

"Nah, it's alright. So what are you doing coming upstairs?"Bookmark here

"Finding Noel was my task."Bookmark here

"Finding Noel?"Bookmark here

"We are apparently playing a game known as hide and seek."Bookmark here

"Ah-- I see," Diana-sama nodded as if understanding, though, her expression said otherwise. "It's one of those quests you need to do with Noel again was it?"Bookmark here

"That is true," I had once been questioned for my less than human behaviour, the explanation for my eccentric actions was that it stemmed from these tasks that Noel and I were to complete on a basis.Bookmark here

"Have fun then Liliath," Diana-sama said with a smile, walking away and under her breath i heard her mutter, "Kids these days," with a sigh.Bookmark here

I continued down the passageway towards Noel's room.Bookmark here

Opening the half-close door, I shot my finger at him with words of victory.Bookmark here

"You died."Bookmark here

"Wh-- how.. you.." Noel looked at me bewildered. He had not expected me to make a beeline towards his direction in under a minute.Bookmark here

"Because I could sense your presence without the need of my vision," I explained in a concise manner. I was inclined to believe that Noel had underestimated me.Bookmark here

"Yeah, you cheater.."Bookmark here

"I believe you never explained the rules properly," I smiled. It was as he said-- however he never mentioned any rules.Bookmark here

The strong hunt the weak, predators seek out prey. There were no rules, either kill or be killed. That was the basic foundation of the game. A simulation of the hunt-- perhaps?Bookmark here

"Your turn, go hide, I'll count to 30. Better just get this game over ASAP," Noel who spoke with his crestfallen look turned towards the wall and started counting.Bookmark here

"Twenty-one, twenty-two.."Bookmark here

I stood there waiting for him to complete the count.Bookmark here

I wondered why he never thought of adjusting the rules? If had clearly violated the rule with magic then he should've banned the usage of it. He hadn't.Bookmark here

I suppose it's safe to assume magic was still acknowledged for this round of hide and seek.Bookmark here

I casted concealment magic on myself at the moment Noel voiced 'thirty'.Bookmark here

He turned around and scanned the room-- his gaze passed through me like water, then he proceeded outside.Bookmark here

He had failed to grasp what was in front of him all this time.Bookmark here

Stifling a laugh at his naivety, I tailed behind him.Bookmark here

"Hm? Hey mom, have you seen Liliath?" Standing a distance behind him, Noel asked Diana-sama who had appeared once again in the passageway.Bookmark here

Diana-sama flashed an odd look, shifting her gaze between Noel and I--Bookmark here

Shifting her gazes between us?Bookmark here

Diana-sama could see me?Bookmark here

"I think she went downstairs-- aren't you cheating if you ask me for hints?"Bookmark here

"She cheated too so.."Bookmark here

"Is that so? Um-- good luck then Noel. I wish you the best~"Bookmark here

"Yeah right.."Bookmark here

Noel walked past Diana-sama and headed downstairs. Diana-sama, after Noel had gone out of earshot came towards me.Bookmark here

"I know you must be wondering why i can see you right?" Diana-sama smiled.Bookmark here

I nodded without speaking a word.Bookmark here

"Well.. The truth is-- i can't see you but your temperature remains. I can see temperature so that's why i could see you, that's my TALENT."Bookmark here

Diana-sama's explanation had me open my eyes wide in shock.Bookmark here

I see-- concealment spell wasn't omnipotent… no wonder i could be traced despite having the concealment spell active. It was my temperature.Bookmark here

"Thank you Diana-- your advice helped me realize something," I bowed sincerely. I would have to combine both the concealment spell together and temperature manipulation to mend the spell's weakness, bolstering the efficacy.Bookmark here

Diana-sama chuckled, "Alright, have fun Liliath. Be sure to fool him around lots," and proceeded down the passage.Bookmark here

Heeding her advice, I went downstairs to find Noel prostrating on the ground, his cheeks squished to the flat floor as he scoured underneath the couch.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"Not here," he spoke in a muffled voice.Bookmark here

I didn't think i could fit myself there even if i tried though?Bookmark here

Noel got back up and went to scour the house. Places that he had gone to included the kitchen, the 'garage', the yard.Bookmark here

"Where is she anyways," he said as he scratched his head. "She can't be hiding in the bathroom can she?"Bookmark here

I shook my head to deny his statement, of course, he wouldn't know of it.Bookmark here

I followed him down the narrow passage that led to the bathroom. He hesitated before turning the lights on and entering the space.Bookmark here

"Not here.. where.." he turned around and darted straight at the door-- at me.Bookmark here

I jumped away at the instant, avoiding collision.Bookmark here

He scanned the area outside the bathroom, then his gaze landed on the machine that would clean dry clothes by spinning it at high speeds.Bookmark here

"That's it, she probably never left my room--"Bookmark here

He passed by me and proceeded up the stairs towards his room.Bookmark here

The first place he sought for when he entered was the spot underneath his bed.Bookmark here

I remember that was where Novelle-sama hid her 'treasured opuses'. I wonder if Noel had his own too? Thinking of such, Noel pulled out a box that had a layer of dust on top of it.Bookmark here

"Well.. i suppose i'll take a bit of a break.." he said dubiously, as if on purpose..Bookmark here

I wonder what he was up to.. the game was still underway wasn't it?Bookmark here

"Once Liliath gets bored, she'll come out by herself…" he muttered, shuffling through the box before pulling out a book.Bookmark here

He sat with his back against his bed and started reading said book.Bookmark here

Was he trying to lure me into revealing myself? What a sly move. However, i would not be so easily fooled…Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

That..Bookmark here

That book..Bookmark here

Could it be..Bookmark here

It couldn't be..Bookmark here

"I wonder how far LIliath had read.. too bad this is the only copy of volume 17.."Bookmark here

Hearing that I furrowed my brows..Bookmark here

This Noel.. he was plotting something..Bookmark here

But.. that beloved 'manga'.. i thought it ended at volume 16, i didn't think there would be another one..Bookmark here

What should i do?Bookmark here

Should I give up?Bookmark here

No.. i can't reveal myself here..Bookmark here

It would be equivalent to me showing my shameful side to Noel..Bookmark here

I crept over, closing the distance to peek at the contents. I had to maneuver myself in a way so that Noel wouldn't notice.. I was positioning myself in an awkward position.. I should just crawl onto his bed.Bookmark here

Though.. he would probably notice..Bookmark here

I have to be patient.. since i now know volume 17 exists within his room.. all I need to do is wait until he puts it away. I doubt he would be able to hide it somewhere i won't be able to reach.Bookmark here

That will be the chance where I'll strike to 'borrow' the book.Bookmark here

I moved a distance away and sat on the floor. I stared at him as he continued reading.Bookmark here

It was an excruciating wait... but i got to see Noel's reaction as he read the book. It was as Novelle-sama said, Noel was incredibly familiar and used to reading these kinds of things, thus he shows minimal reactions towards the indecent scenes portrayed.Bookmark here

He slept half-way through reading.Bookmark here

HE SLEPT??!! HOw CouLd oNE SLEEp reaDING SUch MateRial??!!Bookmark here

I wanted to shout to notify him that the game of hide and seek was still underway but managed to calm myself down, knowing that it would be my loss if i did so.Bookmark here

Could i.. take this opportunity to 'borrow' the book?Bookmark here

I came crawling over, moving closer.Bookmark here

All i need was to hold the book and pull it into the boundaries of my concealment barrier then i would have achieved my goal--Bookmark here

My hands lurched forward..Bookmark here

That was when his eyes jolted open, I staggered backwards with a thud.Bookmark here

Oh no..Bookmark here

I thought I was found but Noel didn't seem to find the sound out of place and stretched his hands up into the air.Bookmark here

"I should get back to finding LIliath.. i'm such a bully for leaving her like that," he sighed.Bookmark here

I couldn't agree more to his statement. He was purposely bullying me. Having me endure for the sake of acquiring the book.Bookmark here

"But i should store this away first.."Bookmark here

Saying that, he went outside?Bookmark here

Wasn't he going to put it back inside the box?Bookmark here

Feeling a certain tension well inside my heart, I raced after him.Bookmark here

I found him in the small library inside the office room where Novelle-sama introduced me to the other volumes of the series.Bookmark here

Noel placed the book inside a metal box and shut the door with a click.Bookmark here

A small vault.Bookmark here

I grimaced.Bookmark here

After which, he promptly left the room..Bookmark here

The vault-- it had a number pad of sorts with an empty display with 5 slots, it looked to be a puzzle. Perhaps I need to arrange the numbers in a certain order for it to unlock? It somehow felt similar to magic locks, the difference was that this lock was made with the aid of 'science' and not magic.Bookmark here

I pressed the button and a clear beep resounded.Bookmark here

The said number appeared on the small display.Bookmark here

"So~ Liliath, any luck with the passcode?"Bookmark here

Hearing that I froze, craning my neck over to the entrance, I saw Noel looking right at me.. and in his hand was the book-- he never did put it inside the small vault. It was a trick.Bookmark here

"I win, you cheater. I totally forgot you could use magic," he said with a triumphant look.Bookmark here

Pouting, I folded my arms and undid my concealment spell.Bookmark here

"Yeah. That's better."Bookmark here

Then I heard a familiar 'ding' that cited the completion of a quest.Bookmark here

"I didn't think you would notice," I spoke with displeasure. It was apparent that i had been led by the nose. What a smart move, baiting me using--Bookmark here

I opened my eyes wide at the realization.Bookmark here

"I already know you've read all 16 volumes," Noel grinned.Bookmark here

My face turned red at his words.Bookmark here

S-Shameful..Bookmark here

"I don't intend to judge you-- here, enjoy reading it." he nonchalantly passed the book to me, i stared at it unblinking, "It's the only copy of this volume, it's not officially released yet.."Bookmark here

Slowly, I brought the book close to my chest.Bookmark here

I have acquired it-- I had been anticipating this..Bookmark here

A moment of silence ensued.Bookmark here

"Um.. I think I'll leave now.. um.. thanks for the game.. um.."Bookmark here

And then Noel left.Bookmark here

Taking a moment to reflect on my actions, I felt my body stiffen. As if natural-- I bought myself closer together, hugged my legs and buried my head into my knees.Bookmark here

He knew all along..Bookmark here

N-Noel-- y-you're so sly..Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.