The Dangers of Reading Out Loud

"The end!" Battler slammed the book shut. "Now can we-"

"Read it again! Read it again!" all the stakes cried in unison.

"I love the part when the queen wants to chop off Alice's head," Satan replied in a much too excited tone of voice.

Battler twitched. "I've already read it to you guys seven times straight! I'm going to lose my voice at this rate."

From his seat in the corner Ronove chuckled. "But Battler-dono, you read it so well. I especially love the voice you do for the white rabbit."

"You should make a voice for the mad hatter too," Lucifer replied.

Battler hit his forehead against the book cover. How did he get into this mess? All he did was make a joke. A little mindless comment about how lately he felt like Alice getting lost in Wonderland. As his bad luck would have it, Mammon happened to overhear this comment. She came over asking "Who's Alice?"

Turns out that she had never heard of Alice in Wonderland. Without thinking it would cause any future problems, Battler gave Mammon a quick summary of it. The stake of greed briskly disappeared and a few minutes later, reappeared holding a copy of the book in her hands. She had searched Ronove's library until she had found it. What surprised Battler the most was that Mammon asked him to read it to her.

He told her that it seemed silly and she was too old to be read stories, but Mammon pointed out that the book was written in English which she had a hard time reading. Battler didn't truly buy it and thought the demon was just making up an excuse, but gave in.

It wasn't the first time he read Alice in Wonderland out loud. It was Ange's favorite story and he had lost count of how many times he had read it to her. Personally, he didn't like the story. In fact, he thought the story was rather creepy in nature. However, Ange would always ask with those big eyes of hers. He could never refuse a request from his cute and adorable little sister. So, he'd often caved.

He'd never imagined that he would be reading the same story to a dangerous and murderous bunch of girls. At first he was just reading it to Mammon, but then Leviathan overheard and wanted to hear it too. When he was done, he had to read it again since Leviathan didn't get to hear it from the start. Then Satan and Lucifer joined in. He was asked to read it again as Belphegor, Asmodeus and Beelzebub appeared. Before he knew it, Battler found himself being asked again and again to read Alice in Wonderland to all the stakes.

He wasn't sure when Ronove had joined in, but he had a feeling the demon butler was more entertained by watching Battler stuck in this predicament rather than by listening to the story. Well, he had had it!

"I'm not reading this anymore! Why don't you ask Ronove to read to you?"

"Because Ronove is much too dignified to do such a thing," Mammon replied.

"And I'm not considered dignified?"

"Nope!" all the stakes replied sharply.

Battler's blood boiled. However, he froze when a voice suddenly chimed in with an icy tone.

"What is going on here?"

The stakes sweated and slowly turned to look behind them. Beatrice stood behind them. Her eyes were narrowed and she wore the annoyed and angry expression that all the stakes feared. Battler smirked to himself. I never thought I would be so happy to see her.

"I have been waiting for you. We were supposed to start the next game over an hour ago."

Ronove stood and took a bow. "It wasn't Battler-dono's fault. I'm afraid the stakes were keeping him so occupied that we lost the track of time."

Beatrice turned and glared at the stakes. "I see," she said in a cold tone.

"We're going!" Lucifer cried tugging Mammon away from Battler's side.

"We all are!" Satan quickly agreed. "Right now!"

As she said these words, all the stakes vanished.

Battler sighed with relief as he stood. "I never thought I would say this, but thanks Beato."

Beatrice blushed slightly and turned away. "I just wanted to get our next game started."

Battler picked up the book, planning on giving it to Ronove to put away. "All I can say is that I don't want to read Alice in Wonderland again for a long time."

Beatrice tilted her head. "What's that?"

Mental alarm bells rang. Battler hid the book behind his back. "Nothing, it's just a silly story," he replied hastily. "Nothing that would interest you."

"I beg to differ." Ronove disappeared and reappeared behind Battler. Before he could fight back, Ronove had seized the book and handed it to Beatrice. "Take a look for yourself Beatrice-sama. It's quite a unique story and Battler-dono read it so well." He smiled smugly at Battler. "And he makes voices for all the characters."

"Don't help," Battler hissed.

But the damage was done. Beatrice's eyes lit up as she glanced at the pages. She held the book out to Battler. "Read it to me."

"But you can read it yourself," Battler argued, feeling as if he was trying to climb out of a bottomless pit.

"But you read it out loud to my stakes. Anything my furniture gets, I should get ten times more."

Does that mean I have to read it to her even more times?

"What about the game?" Battler said in hopes of diverting her attention.

"That can wait, read," Beatrice said firmly.

Battler looked to the butler for help. Ronove grinned. "As a gentleman, it's rude to ignore a lady's request."

Battler felt defeated. "Fine," he grumbled as he took back the book and returned to his seat of torture.

At that moment, he had to admit his dad was right. He needed to learn to keep his big mouth shut.