There were three waiting maids in the inner palace of the Carpa Kingdom, who were known by a slightly shameful nickname: “The three troublemakers”.
Of course they were proper maids of the inner palace, even when they were called troublemakers. It didn’t change the fact that they made it through a strict selection.
There were no problems with their loyalty towards royalty, their skills as maids or appearance.
But compared to the other waiting maids, they were just a little bit more honest to their own desires, got just a little bit more ahead of themselves and were just a little bit more spaced out and missed their superior’s instructions.
The supervisory maid Amanda raised her eyebrows to frown on every occasion, but they weren’t committing mistakes as grave as to warrant a layoff and their Master Zenjioru wasn’t bothered by it at all, so it was tolerated so far.
In a way, the three waiting maids might be the ones, who enjoyed a stress-free life in the current inner palace most of all.
However, even they weren’t completely good-for-nothings. They had just a little bit more wits and were just a little bit more undaunted than the average waiting maid.
And even with their dauntlessness and wits, they now encountered a situation, where they couldn’t help but turn pale in the face.
“UWAAH!? What do I do? What do I do? I’ve gone and done it now!”
A short waiting maid with black hair suddenly raised a piteous voice.
The present time was the long break issued only during the period of intense heat. Just when she had returned to her own room as to spend the break time there, she screamed that.
The rooms of the waiting maids in the inner palace were basically for three people and that trio usually worked together.
To make it easier to understand: These groups of three were roommates and close co-workers.
“Hey, what’s the matter, Fay? Don’t come in screaming all of the sudden.”
“What’s wrong, Fay-chan?”
The short waiting maid— Fay, breaking out a cold sweat on her dark brown face, slowly took out “that” from the pocket of her apron while her two roommates watched her.
“…What do I do with this? I ended taking it with me by mistake…”
Fay said. The thing she had taken out was a “flat, rectangle black object”.
For a while, the small room of the waiting maids was ruled by silence.
The first to break the silence was the taller one of her two roommates.
“W- Wa- Wait. That belongs to Zenjirou-sama, doesn’t it? The one he warned us about not to damp wipe or drop. W- Wh- What are you doing with it, Fay?”
It was understandable that the waiting maids were flurried.
The object in Fay’s hand was a so-called “portable game console”. Needless to say, it belonged to Zenjirou. The waiting maids weren’t so clueless that they wouldn’t know how grave it was to bring that into their own room.
“What now, Dolores…”
Tears dwelled up in Fay’s big, black eyes and she beseeched her tall friend.
Even Fay, usually the most elated amongst the “three troublemakers”, couldn’t help but cry in this situation.
However, she had an excuse if she was allowed to speak up for herself.
Zenjirou always took lessons in manners and common sense from Lady Octavia until past noon, but for some reason, the le
* * *
As it turned out, their speculation about Ines’ reaction was spot on, right down to the last detail.
After the sermon that roughly lasted for an hour, they were dismissed by Ines as she promised to put in a good word for Fay to Zenjirou and the three troublemakers returned to their own room while a relief ate its way through their tired expressions.
“Fuhiii…! That was so scary~!”
Fay had been lectured by Ines for nearly an hour, so she now leaked a long sigh of relief and dived into her bed.
“Well, you had a close shave. Now all you have to do is to return it to Zenjirou-sama once the break is over and apologize.
Ines-sama said she would smooth things over for you, so it shouldn’t become a problem. All’s well, wouldn’t you say?”
Sitting on a simple wooden chair the wrong way round, Dolores held the back of the chair between her long legs and was rocking back and forth.
That feast was only possible because she had long arms and legs. If Fay were to sit on the chair like that, her legs definitely wouldn’t reach the floor.
Well, even when Dolores’ legs reached the floor, it didn’t change the fact that sitting like that was bad manners.
Fray replied with a stifled voice as she had her face still plunged into her pillow, which was filled with wheat hulks.
“Yeah. It was scary, but I’m glad…! Now I can sleep in peace.”
“Heaven forbid, this girl…”
As Fray was already getting ready to take a midday nap on the bed, Dolores raised a slightly weary voice.
“Oh, but maybe I should take a nap, too. I’m somewhat exhausted today.”
But then she said that as she suddenly thought of it and threw a glance at her own bed.
The long break issued during this period wasn’t just for show. During the day it was so hot that they sweated from every pore on their body, even if they just sat still in their room like this.
Taking a nap like Fray was the best method to preserve their physical strength.
“Rethe, what about you? Will you take a nap, too?”
Dolores turned her heard towards her other roommate. At that very moment.
An unfamiliar sound suddenly resounded loudly in the room.
“Hey, Rethe!? Wh- What’re you doing!?”
Dolores shouted angrily and red-faced.
“Fueh? What was that sound?”
Fay woke up from the unknown and strange noise and only lifted her face from the bed.
Both of them looked at Rethe, who tilted her head puzzled as she held the collapsible portable game console opened in her hands.
“H- He- Hey, Rethe! What’re you doing there!”
“Retheee! I just got that long lecture over with, so don’t cause more problems…!”
The screams of Dolores and Fay resounded in the small shared room of the three waiting maids.
On the other hand, the person in question, Rethe, laughed kind of easygoing, as she didn’t realize the severeness of her action.
The black game console in Rethe’s hands displayed a colourful image on the two-part display and played a tuneful music unknown to the different world.
“Somehow, it seems to have started working when I opened it… Ehe~”
“W- Wh- What now!”
“Hiii, we’re done for! There’ll be no mercy this time!”
Dolores and Fay were greatly perplexed, but Rethe actually hadn’t done something so dramatic.
She had merely opened the collapsible game console.
A game console of that type automatically went into a “sleep mode” when you collapsed it during the game.
Most likely, its owner, Zenjirou, hadn’t bothered to turn it off and merely put it into that sleep mode.
As Dolores and Fay didn’t know that, it only appeared like Rethe had started up the tool wilfully.
Giving her two panicking roommates a sidelong glance, Rethe, the cause for their panic, noticed that a paper had been plucked inside the game console and tilted her head.
“Oh? What’s this? Dragonskin parchment?”
It was a copy paper that had been folded four times.
“Hey, Rethe. Don’t carelessly touch it any more…!”
“I know nothing! I’m no longer responsible! I’m shifting the blame to Rethe! I’m just in the wrong place at the wrong time! Just a henchman!”
Rethe seemed to completely ignore the ruckus from Dolores and Fay, spreading the folded paper and looking at it.
Even if she made a blank facial expression, Rethe was still a waiting maid of the inner palace, so she had no trouble with reading and writing.
“This isn’t Her Highness’ handwriting. Could it be from Zenjirou-sama? Let’s see… Instructions for use… Gameplay?”
“Gameplay? What does that mean?”
As their curiosity temporarily prevailed over their dismay, Fay and Dolores peeked onto the paper in Rethe’s hand from at an angle behind her.
“I don’t quite get it, but it says how to use this? No, how to play it, I think.”
“Zenjirou-sama wrote this? So he already learned our language.”
To begin with, they had a “lax” personality, labelled as the “three troublemakers” by their superior.
Shortly after, the three waiting maids were reading the “gameplay” for the portable game console in silence.
* * *
One hour later.
“Fay-chan, on the right. There’s a red one on the right, delete it!”
“Don’t do it, Fay. You won’t get a chain that way. Put that red one on the top at the side!”
“Aw, shut up! I’m playing right now, so stop butting in!”
The three maids were totally hooked on the game console.
The three of them sat next to each other on the simple wooden bed while Dolores and Rethe noisily called upon Fay, who sat in the middle with the game console, from the left and right.
Currently they were playing a game of the so-called “drop down” style.
It was a relatively simple puzzle game, where the player had to navigate blocks, jewels or slime-like creatures that were falling downwards from the top of the long, vertical screen, into a specified order to erase them.
One of the reasons Fay and the others got “hooked”, too, was that the game console contained this “drop down” game.
If it had been a RPG (Role-playing game) or SLG (Simulation game), where they couldn’t read the displayed words, their game adventure would have ended with just enjoying some pretty pictures and strange music.
Either way, this was an incredible synergy of coincidences.
If Fay hadn’t taken the game console with her by mistake.
If Rethe hadn’t been so curious to open the game console.
If Zenjirou hadn’t put in the “manual” he had been asked to write in the local language a few days ago by Aura.
The current situation wouldn’t have occurred when one of these “ifs” had not been applicable.
“Yay~ Killed the skeleton!”
“Kyaah, you’re good, Fay-chan.”
“Oh please, Fay. You only defeated it now? I already beat it twice. Fufu.”
“Ah, what’re you boasting for, Dolores!? Fine, just watch. I’ll surpass you in no time!”
The three waiting maids, who had gotten their hands on the game console and instruction manual in a series of coincidences, completely immersed themselves in the unknown pleasure of games, true to their nickname “the three troublemakers”.
The midday break of the following day.
Just like yesterday, the three troublemakers had gotten their hands on the black game console while they relaxed in their room.
One difference to yesterday, though, was that there was a tag saying “free to borrow” stuck on top of that portable game console.
Furthermore, a reading table for the Arabic numerals and the names of the three troublemakers in the Latin alphabet were written on the copy paper with the instruction manual.
Lastly, the high score listed the name “Zenjirou”, as he apparently played it himself last night. It was an obvious “challenge” towards the troublemaker group.
“Fufufu, how amusing. Very well, I will accept the challenge from Zenjirou-sama!”
Fay spun her arm around and laughed belligerent.
“Hey… Aren’t you being a bit disrespectful towards Zenjirou-sama by saying that? Well, I agree, though, since it seems interesting.”
Even while Dolores retorted to Fay with an astonished tone, her face showed the same kind of smile like Fay’s.
“Ufufu, it’s going to be fun. Let’s me in, too.”
And then, Rethe clapped her hands together excitedly and threw out her huge chest while keeping a easygoing smile on her face.
Thus, three novice gamers emerged in the different world.
* * *
A few days later.
The game tournament of the three troublemakers had continued during each break without fail.
In the morning, they did their jobs and shortly before the break, they took the game console with the “free to borrow” tag and gathered in their room.
During the break then, they went crazy on the game and after the break, they returned the game console to the living room.
A certain day after numerous such cycles.
“Yay! I did it! I finally did it!”
Usually, Dolores was the calmest amongst the three, but she now lifted up her tightly clenched fist numerous times and shouted triumphant.
“Aww! Dolores beat me to it!”
“Wah, congrats. You’re great, Dolores-chan.”
Fay flapped her arms and legs on the bed in frustration, whereas Rethe congratulated Dolores on her success with an applause.
Dolores showy pointed the game console, where she had just set a new high score, at her different reacting roommates, puffed up a bit with pride.
As tall as Dolores was, Fay and Rethe had no way to see the screen when she held it up like that, but she seemed so excited that she forgot such a simple fact.
“Fufu, look. I’ve done it. I finally did it!”
Dolores’ name twinkled brilliant in the high score ranking.
The name “Zenjirou”, which they hadn’t been able to overtake so far, had dropped below it.
It could be considered rather “quick” that she overtook the score of the owner in a few days, but to Dolores it felt like an “at long last”.
“Hand it over, Dolores! I’m next!”
Fay seized Dolores, who still held up the game console proudly, at the waist and shook her violently while puffing up her small cheeks.
“I get it, I get it, so get off me, Fay. Just do your best if you think you can overtake me, fufu. I’ll take on anyone, anytime.”
“Uwah, the giant’s becoming arrogant… Damn it, I’ll have the last laugh over you!”
Fay glared at Dolores, who sat on the edge of the bed and crossed her legs affected, with half-closed eyes and challenged the game belligerent while exposing her healthy, pure-white teeth.
“Oh well, too bad, Fay-chan.”
“Well, as expected, I guess. That’s just the difference between you and me.”
In the end however, Dolores was the only one, who managed to overtake Zenjirou’s score on that day.
* * *
The following day.
Fay had been fired up since morning.
“Hmp! I’ll definitely show you what I’m made of!”
She moved around restlessly like a waltzing mouse and emitted a fighting spirit that gave you the illusion that her short, black hair bristled up, squaring her small shoulders to the limit.
“Fay. It’s all fine that you’re motivated, but it comes to nothing when it obstructs your work. If you skimp on it, you’ll spend your break time training instead.”
The head of the cleaning department, Ines, warned her subordinator for her abnormal high spirit with a sigh.
“Yes, I understand!”
But even these threatening words couldn’t affect the motivated, short girl
“Good grief, this girl…”
Ines stopped her hands from working and made an exaggerated sigh.
Of course, Ines, too, had noticed that the “three troublemakers” had taken Zenjirou’s game from the living room with them and become absorbed in it on a daily basis.
Since Zenjirou had personally given his consent for borrowing it, Ines had no intention to criticize them, but she would show no mercy if that “game” were to interfere with their duties.
Still, for now it seemed that the enthusiasm for that “game” had a positive influence on them.
If they could finish their work faster, their break time would get accordingly longer. It was a trivial merit as this world lacked an accurate measuring of time.
As there were no clocks in this world, one usually wouldn’t even notice when the break time was extended by five or ten minutes, but for Fay and the others it was different, since they were currently hooked on the game.
Five or ten minutes were enough to play one more round of the drop down game.
“Okay, done wiping the couch! Next is the table!”
Fay’s motivation was the same as the one from a grad schooler, who was told “You can play games until dinner once you’ve finished your homework” by their mother.
It was in Zenjirou’s interest as well when they got hooked on this so much.
Fay washed the dirty dust cloth in the water bucket and searched for the so beloved “portable game console” that should be on the table before wiping it.
Ever since Fay had taken it with her by mistake, Zenjirou had always placed it visible on this table.
And just as she had hoped, the black console lay on top of the thick table today as well.
But it was a bit different today.
Next to the usual black game console was a small case she had never seen before.
“Mhh? What’s this?”
Different from cloth or dragonskin, the small case was smooth and shiny.
This small case with colourful polka dots on a white background, undoubtedly belonged to Zenjirou.
It goes without saying that such an object, made out of unknown material, was one of the things that Zenjirou had brought with him.
The case was so small that it perfectly fit into Fay’s small hands and when she picked it up, it made clattering sounds.
Judging by the sensation of it, she speculated that the case was filled with a lot of small, hard objects like dried beans.
Needless to say, she simply would have put it back into place with care as it was the private property of Zenjirou, placed there by pure chance.
The problem was that the case had the same yellow tag as the game console.
“Prize for setting a new high score”
That was written on the tag with a neat, yet somewhat awkward handwriting.
* * *
“So, you brought this along, too.”
“Yep. Here, you set the new high score. I officially handed it over now.”
“Mm, good job. You have my thanks.”
“Uwah… Again so arrogant, you giant…”
Midday break of the same day.
Fay had brought over the mysterious “prize” from the living room along with the game console and obediently handed over that prize to the rightful winner, Dolores, even while she wore a sour look that displayed her displeasure on her whole face.
“Oho, I wonder what is it? Hey, Dolores-chan, open it!”
“I get it, so back off, Rethe. C’mon, get away. I’ll open it now.”
Dolores sat down on the edge of the bed and tried to open the unknown case in a cautious manner while Rethe and Fay watched her.
However, it was unclear to someone from the different world how to open the completely sealed cased.
“Ehm, huh? How do I open this?”
“What? You can’t open it? Show it to me.”
“It won’t open, Dolores-chan? Should I go fetch a knife?”
“Mm… No, it’s okay. It seems to open on this end.”
The cased opened by vertically detaching a part on one end from Dolores careful handling. She then slowly poured the contents onto a handkerchief.
Red, blue, yellow, green. “Smarties” in all kind of colours rolled over the white handkerchief.
“Okay, what’s this?”
“Food, I think? It smells kind of sweet.”
“Hard and sweet food… Candies?”
The three waiting maids put their heads together and speculated.
The Carpa Kingdom produced brown sugar in large quantities, so candies were a relatively common semiluxury food.
From what they knew, the smarties looked like candies to them.
Dolores kept an eye on the smarties on top of the white handkerchief and mused for a while.
The “prize” was given to her by her Master. There was no way that eating them would harm her. However, she certainly was a bit hesitant to put something completely unknown into her mouth unwarily.
“Well, it might be my prize, but it wouldn’t be very mature to hog it all to myself. Here.”
Dolores handed Fay and Rethe each three smarties under such a pretext.
“Fufufu, how rare for you to be so considerate, Dolores.”
“Yay, thanks, Dolores-chan!”
The simple-minded Fay and the innocent Rethe accepted Dolores’ “good-will” without any doubt.
“Well then, let’s eat the first one together on the count of three. 1… 2… 3!”
(Okay, seems safe)
Dolores confirmed with a side-glance to Fay and Rethe as they threw the smarties into their mouths that they weren’t screwing up their faces pained, then quickly ate her own smartie.
“…Mm, it’s sweet.”
“Yeah. It’s candy after all.”
As they were under the prejudice that it was “candy”, the three of them were fiddling with the smarties in their mouths without scrunching them. But even with candies, some people sucked them until the very end, whereas others quickly scrunched them.
Dolores and Rethe belonged to the former while Fay was a classic example for the latter.
“Mm… Mm! Mh!?”
“What’s up, Fay?”
Fay had big eyes to begin with, but she suddenly widened them even more, looking like they would pop out of her head. Dolores and Rethe called out to her while still sucking on their smarties.
“…These aren’t candies! It breaks so easily and inside is a completely different sweet! It’s so sweet… Yeah, so good!”
Finishing the smartie off before the others, Fay flapped her small hands and described that unknown flavour with words.
“Oh, not? Let’s see… Mm?”
“…You’re right. This is really good.”
After Fay, Dolores and Rethe scrunched the smarties in their mouths, too.
As the outside was a kind of sugar-coated sweet, the girls were already familiar with that taste, but the filling of chocolate was an unknown flavour in the Carpa Kingdom.
“It… tastes a bit bitter. But it gives it an highlight all the more.”
Fay and Rethe tilted their heads to Dolores’ impressed evaluation.
“Eh, it’s sweet!”
“Yeah, sweet. You sure your tongue is alright?”
“Aw, geez. It was foolish of me to try to discuss fine flavours with you.”
Their opinions clashed, but all of them seemed to agree that the unknown sweet had a captivating flavour.
Fay in particular sparkled her big, black eyes after she ate up her three pieces in no time, and directed a poor coaxing voice at her tall roommate.
“Hey, Dolores? I would like to ask you something~”
“I’m not giving you any more.”
Dolores discerned the intention of her short roommate right away, quickly wrapped up the handkerchief with the smarties and hid it behind her back.
“Dolorees~ Don’t be a meanie, okay?”
“No means no.”
“…Argh, what a pain! Then I’ll take them by force!”
“Laughable! You think I would flinch from someone like you!”
Fay lost her temper as her begging didn’t work at all and she attacked with her agile and cat-like body, but Dolores countered by giving her a front kick while remaining seated on the bed.
Receiving a good kick to the chin, Fay tumbled to the floor.
Her reflexes and agility weren’t to be scoffed at, but her shorter reach simply made it impossible.
As they were wearing miniskirts, the scuffle between them slipped their clothes out of position, not fit to show it to any man.
But it was nothing but a trifle to them right now.
Fay straightened herself on the floor and raised a hissing voice like a cat while she was still on all fours. Dolores, too, got into a battle position by dangling her legs from the bed, ready to launch a kick at any time.
“Have a go at it!”
When Fay intimidated her from the floor, Dolores got ready to counter attack from the bed.
But luckily enough, the situation didn’t escalate any further.
“Fay-chan, Dolores-chan, Ines-sama will hear you if you make too much ruckus here.”
Rethe’s words extinguished their fighting spirit as if pouring cold water over them.
Her tone was as easygoing as ever and her words sharply pointed out reality.
The present time was the midday break. Fay and her roommates weren’t the only ones taking a rest in their room. The head of the cleaning department, Ines, should be napping in her own room, too.
Contrary to her usual nit-picking, Ines was surprisingly soft on her subordinators, but even that tolerance had its limit.
Although they were in their own room, their superior would give them a good old sermon with furious eyes if they were to make a ruckus so loud that it could be heard in the hallway.
Fay wanted to avoid that, so she reluctantly pulled back.
“O- Okay, fine. Since you stubbornly insist on it, I’ll be so kind as to let you have it out of consideration for Rethe.”
“Let me have it? Don’t make me laugh! This is mine! It belongs to me! Why are you playing the indulgent one!”
Dolores expressed her justified anger from atop the bed, but Fay was lost in greed, so it didn’t get through to her at all.
“Hmpf, forget it. I don’t need any pity from someone as stingy as you. I’ll soon set a new high score, too, and get something from Zenjirou-sama!”
Zenjirou hadn’t said anything about “giving a prize every time a new high score was set”, but Fay interpreted in her own favour and her target apparently shifted from the “smarties in Dolores’ hands” to the “stock of smarties near Zenjirou”.
Snatching away the game console right away, Fay sat down on her bed and turned the console on with a serious expression she never showed during work.
“Fufu, just you wait! I‘m changing my ways from today on!”
“Oh, right. So far, you always deleted the dropping ones right away.”
“Hey, Fay! You’re obviously aiming for chains!! Didn’t you say that you wouldn’t resort to such cheap tricks!?”
“Pft, who said something so stupid? I’ll do everything in my might to win! That’s my justice!”
“It was you! These words came from none other than you! Your attitude completely changes when things are at stake!”
“Fay-chan, Dolores-chan, you’re being too loud. Ine-sama will get angry!”
Sometimes clamorous, sometimes harmonic. Amidst this noisy, but heart-warming tumult, Fay declared the end of her first game round.
“Great, a new personal record! That’s a good omen.”
It must have been a satisfying result in itself, as Fay showed a bright smile.
However, her smile froze as soon as the high score ranking was shown.
Yesterday, Dolores had definitely beaten Zenjirou’s record, albeit by just a bit.
Yet, the name at the top read “Zenjirou” again now.
Needless to say, she wasn’t seeing an illusion. As proof of it, Dolores’ record from yesterday was listed on the second row, with another “Zenjirou” below it.
In other words, Zenjirou had played it last night and taken over Dolores’ high score. Moreover,
“Wow, it’s more than twice the score from Dolores…”
“Wait, let me get this right. That means we won’t get a ‘prize’ unless we overtake this new high score from Zenjirou-sama?”
“Seems that way…yeah.”
As the waiting maids comprehended the circumstances, a silence spread between them for a while. However, it didn’t last for long.
“So mean of Zenjirou-sama! How could he! So childish!”
Fay screamed in critique.
“Well, if you think about it, it IS his game. He must have held back on the previous score.”
Dolores made a wise sigh.
“Phew, now that‘s a mind-blowing score…”
And Rethe gave an easy-going opinion with an ellipsis ending.
The room soon was overflowing with clamour that even drove out the intense heat of this season.