Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi wo Shite:
“I can’t keep any secret from Ojou-sama!”
Vincent-sama and Ariel-sama had a sibling named Erwin who was born from a different mother.
I came to know that gradually after three months in the mansion. Although I suspected that this kind of valuable information was kept confidential by default, since I was generally avoided I had to work harder to obtain it.
But to be fair, after I became aware of Erwin-sama’s existence, a lot of information regarding him was made known to me. It seemed there was no more merit in continuing to hide it from me.
As was mentioned already, Erwin-sama had a different mother than the siblings. Because their mother, Mirria-sama, was the legal wife that meant the mother of Erwin-sama was a concubine. It looked like her social standing was not very high either.
Because of that, both she and Erwin-sama lived under a cloud of shame. Even now I could tell by her appearance that Mirria-sama had an uncompromising personality. If she was not fond of someone, she would be considerably strict towards them.
Because of that, she didn’t want to live under the same roof with a concubine and her child, they had to live at a separate place within the estate.
That was also the reason why it was so hard to notice their existence. The true reason I discovered them was through visitors.
One of those was Viscount Lange Austin. His family was a powerful one even among the vassals of House Windhill.
The purpose of his visit was to try to meet with Erwin-sama of all people. This made Vincent very angry as according to him it was not only impertinent, it was akin to declaring that Vincent-sama was lacking as an heir.
I didn’t understand how such an action could lead to that outcome, however since the other servants also believed it to be true, it must have really been the case. I still had much to learn.
Although his action was rude, Viscount Austin had enough power for that to be overlooked and still be granted the visit he desired in the end, despite Mirria-sama walking out in discontent.
Anyhow, that day was the first time I got to fully know about Erwin-sama’s existence and was able to see him with my own eyes.
Though, like Vincent-sama, he had blonde hair and green eyes, everything else, including the body shape, was different. If you lined both of them up, the only distinct characteristic, that would indicate they are of the same blood, was their hair and eyes.
Erwin-sama was a surprisingly beautiful boy. Since he didn’t resemble Ariel-sama either, he must have inherited those looks from his mother.
It must have been that way to incite Lord Marquess to lay his hands on another woman despite knowing the strict nature of his wife.
Now Erwin-sama seemed to exceed Vincent-sama not only in appearance but in other things too.
His was better in the sword, had a higher aptitude for studying, better personality, but of all the things he exceeded his half-brother in, the most problematic one was the talent for magic.
When children of the three great Houses reached eight, they underwent a trial to discover the capacity and aptitude of their mana. It was an important ceremony for the families that were pillars of the kingdom.
The leadership of these Houses couldn’t be entrusted to someone without talent in magic and to make sure that a suitable child was born, it was their duty to adopt or marry someone who excelled in it.
Anyhow, during that ceremony, Erwin-sama had displayed an outstanding talent.
Vincent-sama’s results from two years prior on the other hand… Were as expected from looking at his performance in the magic study class. They were unbecoming of House Windhill heir.
This had brought complicated changes in the family politics. Vassal houses began to wonder aloud whether Erwin-sama wouldn’t be a more fitting successor to the title. Most servants in the mansion, although staying quiet on the outside, seemed to agree with that sentiment.
The only people opposed to the notion at the time were the Marquess, his wife, and Ariel-sama.
Especially, the Marchioness, who turned even stricter to Erwin-sama and his mother. Because she was scary, no one dared to question the severity of their treatment.
Viscount Austin in trying to meet Erwin-sama had shown a clear intention to push for his succession.
At that time I understood why was Will so delighted to hand over his position as Vincent-sama’s valet. He transferred anticipating that Erwin would be nominated as the new heir.
It seemed I was right thinking the bastard was not a decent person.
But that was fine. Those kinds of things didn’t matter to me. The only question was what Vincent-sama wished for and as a valet, I would do my utmost to make it a reality.
Well, that was how it should have been but—
「Do something about it!」
「Do something, milady?」
「You are onii-sama’s valet, right? Do you think it is fine to leave things as they are?」
Having answered Ariel-sama’s call, I was suddenly faced with her anger.
「….Is this, perhaps, about the succession issue?」
「Do you know of any other pressing matters?」
「Milady, I have no authority to intervene.」
「But a good valet is someone to take action even knowing that!!」
I thought that personal servants couldn’t really do anything about these kinds of situations but Ariel-sama was unlikely to accept that even if I said it out loud.
「Milady, when you say take action, what exactly should I do?」
「That is for you to figure out.」
「…Is eliminating the rival acceptable?」
「That is a good idea. Make it happen.」
Even though I offered a drastic solution on purpose, it was still accepted nonetheless. Ariel-sama probably didn’t understand the true weight of my words.
「Erm, the person removed would be your younger brother Erwin-sama though.」
「Who else would it be?」
「What is it?」
「We’re talking about your younger brother milady.」
「…If he is bringing chaos to the house, then we have no other choice. That is a part of my burden as an aristocrat.」
It looked like she understood after all. It seemed she was not against disposing of her half-brother for the sake of the House. For Ariel-sama, that was one of the responsibilities that fell on a noble.
「So, can you do it?」
「… If an opportunity arises. However, I am not confident that it’s possible without being found out.」
「Is that so?」
「I’m afraid that the end result would not work in Vincent-sama’s favor.」
「The vassal families might take it badly too.」
「Wouldn’t that also be a problem, milady?」
「It would, wouldn’t it? Let’s put that plan on hold. Do you have any other ideas?」
Though I expected that the conversation would be over once the assassination plan was put on hold, it seems I was wrong. This persistence really ran in the blood. It was likely that they inherited it from their mother.
「…For now, Vincent-sama is the official successor, is he not?」
「That is correct.」
「Then, wouldn’t it be better if we refrained from taking drastic measures for the time being? 」
「You mean to leave everything as is!?」
「No milady, that is not what I meant. For now, it would be better to make the surroundings recognize Vincent-sama as worthy of succeeding. In order to make them realize that is the case, we need him to achieve commendable feats.」
「…Such as serving with distinction during wartime. 」
「To make that happen right away would be impossible.」
「Which is why, currently, we need to work hard to improve Vincent-sama’s abilities.」
「If we do that, when will it be acknowledged?」
When it came to that kind of questioning, Ariel-sama was pretty strict. She would realize it right away if one made a half-baked response. She considered that to be one of the gravest sins in a servant’s conduct and would yell at offenders.
「Don’t tell me, you do not know?」
「No milady, that is not the case.」
「Well then, when?」
「I expect that the right opportunity would present itself after enrolling to the Academy, however as to what shape will it have, I’m still not quite sure.」
I answered using my knowledge of the other world but as I was not confident that the school in both worlds worked the same way, I could be vague.
「…That’s right, isn’t it? There is also that.」
「Am I right that there will be one?」
「That is a matter of course. There will be various exams at fixed intervals. There should also be other various opportunities to show one’s abilities as well.」
「Well then, before we get to that, Vincent-sama must make a great effort.」
「Specifically on what?」
「Don’t tell me you have no idea?」
How very strict. Even though I was called without prior notice I was being pressed for answers to the end. Well, giving them was a part of my job as well.
「Milady, I do not know if I can manage to have those things implemented.」
「What do you mean?」
「There is an urgent need to change Vincent-sama’s tutors with the magic teacher being the top priority. Even if I, being ignorant on the subject, was to be asked, I’d tell you that part of his lessons are very odd.」
「…If what you say is true, then that is unforgivable.」
Her anger ignited instantly. Insincerity to one’s employers was one of the things that she found unforgivable. Like attempting to trick her with half-baked words.
「Milady, bear in mind that this is just an insight from someone whose knowledge of magic is non-existent.」
「Teachers should teach those who know nothing. For Rion to still know nothing means that this particular tutor is worthless at his job.」
「As I thought then, changing the tutor would be for the better but I worry that it can’t just be done like that.」
「That’s fine. I will take over the task.」
「I will be teaching onii-sama myself. I am better than him when it comes to magic, so it should be fine.」
「….As you wish.」
Though I felt that the answer to the problem was still far off, this was not something I could object to. It would be better to avoid meddling with Ariel-sama’s feelings for her brother’s well-being.
「Which other tutor?」
「The sword instructor.」
「Eh? In our family, only one or two people can contest with Eric in the realm of swordsmanship.」
「Indeed. Requesting him to be changed might seem impertinent when he’s so talented.」
「Then, why is there a need to replace him?」
「Because he doesn’t understand the struggles of someone without a shred of talent.」
「It might be unkind to say, but I think Vincent-sama doesn’t have any talent for fencing. However, I don’t think that lacking it is an absolute obstacle.」
「…Talent is… No, continue. You’re still to explain in full, am I correct?」
「Yes. If he was compared to Erwin-sama his shortcomings would be obvious. If even I, observing from the sidelines can tell this, then Vincent-sama most likely thinks so as well.」
「…What did you say?」
I provoked her again. I decided to give up on avoiding that at the moment. For Vincent-sama’s circumstances to see actual change, all his problems including mental ones should be addressed, even if criticism was required.
「The person teaching Vincent-sama should be more honest. How should I put it… That person must have the gentleness that could coax out skill from within another person.」
「…That’s right, I guess? What’s next?」
「In regards to the academic subjects….., Vincent-sama’s motivation poses a problem.」
「…That’s the most difficult part, isn’t it?」
「Yes milady…. I am planning to figure out remedies for that.」
So even Ariel-sama was aware of that, huh? It was hard to think of any methods to change Vincent-sama’s hate for studying.
「In regards to that, I shall think of a way as well. For the time being, I will participate in your plan too.」
「I said, I will study alongside Onii-sama for now.」
Other than presenting options to solve Vincent-sama’s problem, I didn’t have any more say in the matter. Though even if I had, I wouldn’t.
Several days later, I was reminded just who the most influential person in this mansion was.
The morning study session. Beside Vincent-sama, Ariel-sama also took the tutor’s class.
「Onii-sama, how do you plan to explain this?」
「Nn? This is… Rion, explain it in an easily understandable way.」
「I’m afraid my explanations would be too hard for Ariel to take in, but you should be able to frame it in a more understandable way.」
「That’s fine. Then let us hear it from Rion himself.」
Moore-sensei turned his head towards us but Ariel-sama agreed while ignoring him completely. I was left with no choice but to comply. If I made mistakes on some parts, I would just ask for forgiveness.
「Alright. In order for one to obtain a profit, the selling price of a good must be higher than its cost.」
「That is obvious.」
「Then what determines whether the product’s selling price is expensive or not?」
「…That would be the selling price.」
「Then is a bread being sold for two copper coins expensive or cheap?」
「That is cheap, isn’t it?」
「…Ehmm.. It’s actually expensive.」
「Eh? I have yet to see one but copper would be one of those cheap coins, wouldn’t it?」
Rather, you never even handled money, right? By the way, although Vincent-sama had visited shops himself, he had never been informed of things like “prices”. Honestly, I didn’t even know how many times I was tempted to pocket the outlay for myself.
「….Erm, you see, for me, two pieces of copper coin for a loaf of bread would be too expensive.」
「Rion, are your wages that low?」
「… No, I have nothing to spend money on so what I earn is plenty for now… Umm, let me rephrase it. When I was still residing in the slums, two coppers would be unobtainable and was a great deal of money.」
「Is that so…?」
The expression of Ariel-sama became clouded. She was really honest when it came to things like this. However, at that moment it wouldn’t do.
「Milady, there is no need for sympathy. I only said it for the sake of explanation.」
「That is right, isn’t it?」
「However, Ariel-sama said that it was cheap. Now then, is the loaf cheap or expensive?」
(*TN: The usual ojou-sama “Ara?” that brings music to my ears. What? Nothing! I just really want to say it.)
「This is why what determines if something is expensive is the buyer and not the price. Let’s return to our example. Two coppers for a loaf of bread would be expensive, however, if there were people willing to buy it for three coppers later, if you bought one and then sell it to them, you would obtain profit.」
「This is called determining the value of goods by demand.」
「So the prices will be decided according to the buyer’s side, right?」
「If one were to put it simply, yes.」
「Well then, explain it easily.」
「….Yes. Next concept would be determining the value of a product through supply. Let’s assume you decided to sell bread for three coppers per loaf, if there are no willing buyers then it won’t sell. Do you know why?」
「Eh? There is a reason for this?」
「There is. If the product it is not a necessity, then it will not be bought. The potential buyers would likely be able to get a hold of it for a cheaper price or even make it themselves.」
「So, if people do not have a way to get a loaf of bread for two coppers nor the means to make it at home, what would happen then?」
「Well, we will be able to sell ours for three coppers.」
「Yes. It might even be possible to sell it for four coppers. If we refused to sell and they had no other means to get it, then even if the price was raised higher, it might still find buyers. This is how the prices are determined by the supply.」
「However, that would be despicable.」
「The main goal of merchants is profit.」
「But even so…」
「Don’t worry, milady. There’s more to the subject. A merchant that takes advantage of others by racking up prices loses credibility. Even if he gains profit in the moment, he will lose much more in the long term. It would eventually wipe out all his profits and more.」
Adding this part was not strictly necessary. However, because Ariel-sama wouldn’t be able to accept such a ruthless way of gaining profits, if such a caveat was not added, then she would not let the subject drop.
「…That’s right, isn’t it? With this, it would be acceptable.」
「That sums up the topic, was the explanation clear?」
「Yes. It was.」
Though I did not think that they were able to fully understand the issues with my explanation, for Ariel-sama it was alright. This kind of knowledge is not necessary for her after all. I wished Vincent-sama took it in properly, though.
He was looking at his textbook with a rather displeased expression.
「…Is that so. So that’s how it is.」
「Ah, no, yes, that was a splendid explanation. It was even understandable for Ariel, was it not?」
Though I was also surprised that he was able to understand my explanation, this must have been what Ariel-sama was really aiming for, having us study together, to have me explain things.
Perhaps even more surprising than this was the notion that struck me suddenly, was Ariel-sama always so outrageously bright?
If that was the case, then I didn’t have an eye for people but I should not feel sorry for myself.
The surprises about Ariel-sama didn’t end with just that.
When it came to magic, she was unmistakably a genius.
The attribute of Ariel-sama’s magic was obviously wind. After seeing the spirits, that were supposed to be invisible to me, spread all around her and shine, it was painfully obvious.
And leaving her affinity aside and just judging by the number of spirits gathering in her surroundings, I wondered just how much mana they received from her?
What amazed me was that she was able to keep such a state stable.
「Do you understand, onii-sama? It is done by feeling the mana in your surroundings, not by feeling the mana inside your body.」
「…That is what you said but…」
「Can you see the mana flowing around me?」
「Y-Yeah. That is amazing, Ari.」
Ariel-sama’s enthusiastic approach to teaching seemed to be having a counterproductive effect, though. Clearly, Vincent-sama was just being oppressed by the reality of how inferior his talent was.
「Onii-sama should be able to do a thing like this. Your way of doing it until now was just wrong.」
「The mana circulating around me is a thing that also exists elsewhere, please try to feel it.」
「The same exists… I can’t see them.」
「There is no way that’s the case. They should be visible to onii-sama as well.」
Maybe this way of teaching was because she was a genius. Since she was able to do it easily, she did not know the right way of explaining to others how they can do it themselves.
「…Milord, Please focus your consciousness on your eyes.」
「Ah, the conversation was about seeing, so I thought focusing on eyes would be important.」
「…That is indeed correct.」
「Accordingly, if what you were trying to see was wind attribute, I think having a proper mental image of the wind could also help. Should I open the window to let some fresh air enter?」
「…Is it that simple?」
「It was just a suggestion from an outsider, please excuse the boldness.」
「…Just do the things you were thinking of doing.」
「Well then, I shall open the window.」
I walked towards the window and opened it. The breeze that entered from the outside felt pleasant. Would he be able to see them after feeling this?
Vincent-sama turned his gaze towards the window. So he was truly obedient when it came to being taught by his sister. Though I could show him the method I figured out for myself because we have different attributes, it might not have been of much help.
Also, I knew that it wouldn’t be enough just with this.
「What is it?」
「Please, withdraw your mana for a moment. If they gather too much on you, there won’t be much left for Vincent-sama to see.」
The color of her face changed and I immediately knew that I made a blunder.
「You can see them, don’t you!?」
「I CAN SEE THEM!!」
「I can see them. O-oh! What is this? They are getting closer.」
「That is it. That’s the mana that exists in the environment. Stay as you are and this time, hold out your hands and focus the mana in your body towards them.」
「It’s the circulation for activation of magic.」
Vincent-sama like the usual, focused and began chanting. I started to see a faint light forming on his palm. It was probably the spirits showing joy after obtaining their food.
「What’s after this?」
「If you continue the chant to the end, the magic should activate.」
「So what’s the difference from the usual method?」
「 That aside, I’m surprised you were able to use magic despite not knowing the source. The source of the magic was the mana gathering in onii-sama’s palm, didn’t onii-sama know?」
「Then what about the mana inside my body?」
「Isn’t it for the sake of attracting them?」
「Is that really the case?」
「That is right, The larger the spell you want to use, the more mana it will gather. That’s how the efficiency changes.」
「Is that so?」
Finally being made aware of these things, Vincent-sama’s magical ability was sure to rise. As Ariel-sama said, I was also way more surprised by the fact that he was able to use magic somehow.
Anyhow, it was amazing. I felt like his potential skyrocketed instantly thanks to his sister.
However, that Ariel-sama was looking in my direction with a severe glare.
「Rion, you can use magic, can you not!?」
「…No, I can’t.」
「You lie! How come you can see my mana in that case!?」
It seemed the spirits were not a thing that could be seen by just anyone. I made a blunder due to ignorance even though I was being so careful…
「So you can now lie to me?」
「You lied, didn’t you?」
「Milady, my deepest apologies.」
「What attributes can you use?」
「What attributes can you use?」
「…And just a little bit of fire too.」
The one who yelled in surprise was Vincent-sama. Ariel-sama looked like she was satisfied with my answer. The reason why she was persistent was probably because she deduced this far already.
「…Who else knows about this?」
「Only the two of you.」
「Well then, keep it that way. Do not tell anybody.」
「Even you, onii-sama.」
My only secret was immediately found out by the two of them. Though I worried about what that could lead into, I felt relieved at the same time.
I didn’t want to hide secrets. However, the other me, as expected, didn’t want it to be exposed, even if people would not believe it anyway.
But even so, the time for it to be revealed would still come either way. I decided to believe in that and wait for that moment as well. After all, my life here had just begun.