Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi Wo Shite:
“I have grown up a little– no, a lot.”
The room was still dark. But even not having a watch, I knew that it was about the time for people to wake up. But before that, I had to get rid of hindrances.
「… It’s already morning. Please wake up.」
「…Already? Isn’t it still dark?」
With her body jolting, the woman sleeping beside me had finally woken up.
「Wouldn’t it be bad if everyone else woke up before you? 」
「That’s right, isn’t it? Thank you for waking me up.」
The woman rose from the bed while still rubbing her sleepy-looking eyes. I could only see that stark naked appearance of her as nothing, but vile.
Although the outward looks of the servants in the mansion were good, being a factor in the selection, for me, things like appearances didn’t mean a thing.
A woman who sneaked into the room of an adolescent boy was nothing, but foul.
「You really…. Even though you’re just a kid, you’re quite good. I will accompany you again.」
She said with a smile floating on her face. Although she acted as if she was the one doing a favor, the words she said didn’t make me happy at all. However, if needed, I would still accompany her. But, it was time to make her realize that the one having pleasure, was only her.
「Yes. However, Ariel-sama won’t let this kind of thing off the hook.」
The color of her face immediately changed. No matter how many times I saw it, this part was really amusing. No matter which woman, their response was the same sort of stupid expression.
「Because Ariel-sama is fastidious, she is strict in these kinds of things.」
「You are planning to talk about it!?」
「If I hide it, it will make things more complicated.」
「…That’s a joke, isn’t it?」
「I am being serious. I can never hide anything from neither Vincent-sama nor Ariel-sama.」
Except for one thing.
「…You really are lying, aren’t you? You’re only doing this to shake me up.」
「No, It’s the truth.」
「…Please don’t, if you do such a thing then I…」
Finally, the behavior of the person changed into a pleading one.
Anyone scowled at by Ariel-sama had no place in this mansion. Just one word from Ariel-sama conveyed to the Lord Marquess meant that being fired would be as good as certain. If you were going to tremble like this, then you shouldn’t have done such a stupid thing in the first place.
「Even you won’t be let off the hook, you know?」
「That’s right, isn’t it? It will probably be the same whipping as the usual. However, my sin only weighs as much as that.」
「Please… I’m begging you, please don’t tell them. I will do anything, I will also let you sleep with me from now on.」
It seemed this woman still didn’t fully comprehend her position.
I needed to make it clear for her.
「Let me sleep with you?」
「Shouldn’t it be something like “I’m begging you, please sleep with me!”?」
「Or should we make it “You can do to me as you please” instead?」
「One should be aware of his own situation. Do you know what that means?」
「…You have set me up, haven’t you?」
「No way. I haven’t really done anything. Haven’t you been the one to come to my room at your own convenience? Who haven’t cared to listen to what I was saying and then threatened and forced yourself on me?」
「That’s right, but…」
「You have been thinking that someone like me would just do as told, right?」
In the those last two years, my situation had always been the same. It was not related to how old I was, but rather as long as my appearance didn’t change, I would always be hated and at the same time treated as a plaything.
Although I did not even know my exact age, I who was still clearly in the period of childhood, had already been involved with numerous women. Females coming to my room, with their sights on my above average face, were not limited to just one or two.
Thanks to this, my situation has worsened to the point that my distrust of women was pushing up ahead of my distrust of humanity as a whole.
「If you ask me to not inform them, then I could stay silent about it. However, because that would be a serious thing to do and a grave betrayal of Ariel-sama, the price for doing that will not be small.」
「…Then the compensation is?」
「Nothing much. Tell me about the people you get acquainted with during your work, that alone will be enough. We can even keep sleeping with each other at like yesterday.」
「…Is that really enough?」
「Yes. I would not dare to inconvenience a lady. However, you are not the only girl I’m meeting with right now. It would be troublesome if, in the future, you visited at the same time as one of the others. 」
「…You are quite the lady killer, eh? Even though you’re still a kid, you can make a woman’s heart go mad all the same. Your relationships, your responsibility however*.」
Because the demand was too light, it seems her composure had returned. Her attitude changed to flattery. Well, I guess this much is fine for today. I can still think of many ways to threaten her anyway.
「I think it would be best for you to return now.」
「That’s right, isn’t it? …When will the next time be?」
「I will contact you. It’s to make sure no one else notices of course.」
「…I understand. Well then, I will wait for the invitation.」
Although she had a rather unsatisfied expression, the woman said nothing more and, after putting on her clothes, left the room. When her footsteps became distant, I have also exited into the hallway.
It was already the time for my training.
With this, I had five people. I finally managed to seize the woman who was assigned to the most important tasks.
If you did not have the absolute support of the Lord and his wife in the succession conflict, it would put you at a great disadvantage. However, that moment was the turning point.
From then on, I would not let any information regarding the mansion’s situation escape from my grasp. “One who seizes the information, seizes the battlefield” – I don’t know who did that quote come from, but it was from the other world.
Before my training began, I plunged myself completely into the fountain’s water.
That was because I wanted to wash the lingering scent of the woman clear off. Just being wrapped around by that scent already gave me an unpleasant feeling.
I poured water on the top of my head over and over again. Though the current season was unpleasantly cold, that didn’t matter to me at all. No matter how freezing the water was, it would feel mild to me.
「…Has someone slept with you again?」
My hands pouring water instantly stopped as I heard the voice, that I currently didn’t want to hear the most. Timidly turning my head, the person, who should never have appeared in such a place, was currently standing there.
It was Ariel-sama.
「…Good morning milady. This is because I have woken up early.」
「Rather, you haven’t been able to sleep, right? Due to someone’s fault.」
「…Milady? That would be?」
I was having a bad feeling. I was really having a bad feeling, that it was probably about that.
「I have came to Rion’s room, because there has been something I’ve been really curious about.」
「…I haven’t noticed milady.」
「Of course you haven’t. You have been in something like a trance after all.」
That was not me, but the other one… I should’ve have thought about making less sound.
「Milady? I wonder what would that have been caused by?」
「Are you trying to make me say it?」
「…Of course not, milady. But I think that coming to my room alone in the middle of the night would not be a conduct becoming an aristocrat’s daughter.」
「…I know about that.」
The face of Ariel-sama turned even more displeased. Just looking at such an expression, brought pain to my chest. However, I still had to inform her about my perspective, because Ariel-sama was important.
「The current situation is not desirable to me either. So if possible milady, do lift your spirits a little bit…」
It seems with this, her patience had finally snapped. Ariel-sama’s whip flew towards my hands. Her lash today hurt an awful lot.
Did she fail to control it, or was it on purpose? No, no matter how I thought about it, it was on purpose. There was no one to witness the whipping, so there was no need to whip me seriously.
Our relationship was of the kind where, when we would look to be too close, odd suspicions would arise. The purpose of the whip was to prevent such risk and it was showcased to the surroundings to put an emphasis on the master-servant status.
Ariel-sama was really good at whipping. Even though it was making a really loud sound, there was almost no pain. When I praised her for that, I was told that it was only due to her use of wind magic. Magic was really convenient in various ways.
However, the whipping today was done without restraint.
「…Your orders milady?」
「Do I really need to have a business in order to meet with Rion?」
「….That is not the case at all.」
「In the near future Rion will attend the academy as well, correct? After that, there won’t be much time when we’re together.」
The following spring, I would start to attend the Royal Academy together with Vincent-sama. I was merely tagging as a valet in order to take care of his daily necessities. But even so, the academy had a huge library and there were a lot of books that didn’t exist in this household. The studying environment didn’t matter for a valet, however the library was a great place to learn.
The real problem was that the academy employed a boarding system.
Although it was under the pretext of making the younger nobles more independent, since it was merely for form’s sake, it didn’t mean a thing. This is because all lordlings and little ladies were accompanied by a person taking care of their necessities similar to me.
Knowing that this was the case, I thought it would be better if there was no dormitory system at all, but surely there were circumstances dictating otherwise. I had gotten used to the noble society having inexplicable circumstances.
Anyhow, the time where I could be with Ariel-sama would be limited to my days off. When it came to that… not sparing a thought for such things was no good.
「It’s only natural that I want to spend the same amount of time together, or even just a little more. 」
「Ariel-sama, I appreciate the thought, but causing situations where you have to sneak out to meet me…」
「What’s wrong with that!?」
「…Milady is engaged to the Crown Prince. You must not endanger that, no matter how trivial the reasons, nor offer opportunities for other to slander you.」
The engagement of Ariel-sama and the Crown Prince was formally announced a year ago, but the marriage itself was all but decided even further back.
I had Vincent-sama tell me about the circumstances regarding that.
The relationship between the royal family and the three aristocratic families was complex. One of them being ahead of the other two was neither desirable to the royal family nor the three houses themselves. Each of them would prefer it was their own family who would gain the upper hand instead.
However, such a thing would not be achieved easily. If one of the three started getting ahead, the other two would suppress it back. It was that kind of situation.
Because of that arranging marriages was difficult. Having only one of the three aristocratic families deepen their relationship with the royal family was not desirable. Deepening relationships with the other branches of nobility was not desirable as well because no dynasty wanted another to become equal with their own standings.
Well then, how would all that actually work?
Simply by making the three aristocratic families to take turns.
The wife of the current king was from the House Aqusmea and the queen of the next generation was already decided to come from House Windhill.
Ariel-sama was already determined to be the queen ever since she was born.
Because she herself knew this for ages, she had always done her best to become someone worthy of being the next queen. In addition, it seems the crown prince was also smart, good looking, had excelled for both swordsmanship and magic and was a person of impeccable character.
It would be only natural to be glad about it.
Though it should have been natural, probably because it was an arranged marriage, for some reason Ariel-sama didn’t feel glad about it. It might have also been due to the pressure of being the official queen of the next generation. After all, it was a Queen’s crown. For a commoner like me, it was an existence way above the clouds.
「Until when do you plan to continue such activities?」
「Yes milady? What would you be referring to?」
「Although I won’t increase the number any more, I must still accompany them at times.」
「…The woman this time was who, and where is she from?」
「It is a person in charge of distant matters.」
I stopped the answer with just the where part. I have already learned from experience that if I told her who, she would treat them in an unfavourable manner after all.
Though I knew that it was an improper relationship, this was all for the sake of Vincent-sama. I also wanted to ask her to consider her actions more, but I could not get it out of my mouth. Especially because Ariel-sama didn’t hide her discomfort in regards to this matter.
Which reminded me of the time when Vincent-sama was persistent in a similar case and I told him, which resulted in me and the woman being whipped together.
「What are you laughing at?」
It seems I couldn’t help but laugh unconsciously, just remembering about it.
「I have heard that you will take a day off.」
「…Is that perhaps what milady has been concerned about?」
「Yes. After all, even if you take a day off, you have no other place to go.」
「Even I would want to go out to play at times.」
「That’s a lie.」
Ariel-sama flat-out rejected my words. Was she sharp, or what.
「Tell me your real reason. This is an order.」
She used it as if flashing her hidden trump card. Well it was actually effective on me though. I didn’t want to hide anything from them. Or rather, I didn’t want to add anything more to the most important thing I was hiding then.
「…It’s only a bit of cleaning up.」
「When I go to the Royal Academy, there might be times when those whom I have gotten acquainted with will come for me. Although the chance of it happening is low, I have been thinking that I should remove the potential sources of future trouble.」
「….You are going to the slums, right?」
「What are you going to do there?」
「…A bit of cleaning up, milady.」
「….It’s nothing dangerous, is it?」
「Because it’s the slums, I won’t lie about the dangers involved. However, I will return safely without fail.」
I promised my safe return to the straightforward pair of Ariel-sama’s eyes. The pair of emerald green irises were staring at me and I felt like being pulled inside.
「…I understand. Be careful.」
I bowed deeply towards her departing back.
It had been roughly two years since I came to the mansion. I shopped a bit to kill time and after finishing a light meal, I headed towards my objective.
Passing through numerous alleys away from the main street, I moved towards the place where I was raised.
The dark side of the capital, the slums.
Even though so much time had already passed, the state of the neighbourhood hardly changed. Walking in the manner that I had gotten used to, I entered deeper into the alleyways, while avoiding getting dirty.
Although I could feel the stares surrounding me, I knew that it wasn’t because people recognized me. Looking at a well-dressed kid, they must have thought that a prey had strayed into this place again. Ignoring the watchers, I went straight towards the place where those bastards should be nesting.
It was a considerably better looking building compared to the average structure of the slum area. They should be gathering on the first floor.
Before, I would never have made myself approach this place and because I was currently about to enter it now, I must have gotten really strong.
As I opened the door, I could hear the voices of the adults making a racket inside. After that, there was a small pause. Seeing my figure enter the building, they have turned silent.
Looking around the surroundings, I immediately found my target.
「…You bastard, how dare you show yourself in here!?」
The guy who exploded in anger approached me. There was another person following him, those two were together as usual.
But then again, years ago, there were three and not actually two.
「It’s Dan’s killer! I’ll butcher him to death!」
Skipping the talking really helped.
The two brandished a pair of blades to threaten me. Though it was quite unsatisfactory, I guess this had to do.
Reaching towards my waist, I drew my sword and everything happened in a flash. Blood suddenly gushed out from the throat of the man in front of me.
With no time to be surprised, I faced the other man and swung my sword diagonally downwards. With barely a response, the body of the man immediately fell to the floor.
「…You! What are you trying to pull!?」
Finally realizing what was happening, the other men simultaneously stood up.
「I killed them, because they were trying to kill me.」
「Complaining about this… It seems that the slum denizens have turned quite naive.」
Kill if you didn’t want to be killed. That should have been a common rule here.
「Even so, what are you trying to pull causing an uproar in here of all places.」
I started hearing a deep voice from above the stairs.
Well, it was really reassuring that talks progressed this fast. If it was like this, I would be done in no time.
「I have been wondering what’s with the uproar. To think it has been you.」
「Do you remember me?」
「Of course I do remember. I can even remember your taste.」
「I remember clearly as well.」
「Is that so? So you came because you couldn’t forget? Then I’ll do you again as you wish, so bare you ass.」
「Like hell that’s the case.」
「Haa, to think that you, who could only quiver in fear before, have become someone to speak so boldly.」
「I have grown quite a bit after all.」
「So? What do you want?」
「I have told you haven’t I? That I can clearly remember everything.」
「Don’t tell me you have come here to kill me? Me of all people? Just where the hell do you think you are?」
「This place? It’s your graveyard. Burneth thee, till not a speck of ash remains – Flame Prison!」
Almost immediately after my words, the body of the man was engulfed in flames.
Not a single fragment of his earlier bravado could be seen now while he rolled his body on the floor screaming.
Doing that would not extinguish the flames. They would only disappear after one was already burned to dust.
「Well then, I wonder who’s next?」
「….Y-you, U-using magic.」
「So it is you?」
「N-No! I haven’t done anything to you!」
「You not doing anything is a lie. I can remember you kicking me sometime in the past.」
「….I-I apologize. Please forgive me.」
「Hmm…. Flame Prison!」
Assaulting me from the back was futile. The me right then could easily feel the presences behind my back. Still, it was just the right time to show an example. With this, the talk between us should progress faster.
「If you defy me, I’ll kill you. Then what should you be doing?」
「…Do as we are told.」
「That’s right. Please do. Well then, not wasting time, here are your orders.」
「Gain complete control of the slums. Exterminate the other influences and subdue all of this region.」
It seems the guy in front of me didn’t completely understand what I was saying. Ah no, he could understand but couldn’t see how to make this happen.
「I won’t ask you to make it happen immediately. It’s fine if it takes you some time.」
「Even if that’s the case, there’s no way we can simply…」
「I will get rid of the obstacles. If it’s someone who will bow down to money, give them money. However you get there, have all those who reside in the slum area vow allegiance to you.」
「That is really unlike you, Flay.」
So my name was actually Flay. Well, even hearing that, not a single memory resurfaced and I didn’t feel a thing. As I thought, the me, who carried the memories of this world, was nothing but an afterimage of a consciousness.
「In regards to this organization – I will seldom come here. As for other things – you can do to as you like to uncooperative inhabitants, after all, you guys will be the group ruling this town.」
Although I was trying to do it by carrot and stick approach, I wondered if it went well. Anyhow, I felt like the faces of the surrounding men have now been tinged with excitement.
「Yeah. I will provide you with necessary funds. Is there someone in charge of finances here?」
「He should be on the second floor.」
「Call him down.」
After waiting for a while, a diligent-looking person, seemingly unfit for this place, was forcibly dragged out. Because he was someone who could calculate, it seems there also were educated people in here.
「An alias. Well that’s fine. Use this money as you see fit. However, you must record all of your transactions. If I find any falsehoods, I’ll turn you into charcoal too.」
Rather than minding my threat, the surrounding people were surprised by the money that I handed over to Mane. Well that was certain to happen. This was an amount of money that commoners wouldn’t even be able to fathom. If I told them that that was only a portion of Vincent-sama’s pocket money, would they be convinced? After all, he was not an heir of the Marquess for nothing. Though I wouldn’t reveal such a thing to them even if it killed me.
「Although I said that you can do as you please, things that go against my orders are unforgivable. I will come here periodically to check the situation. If, when I arrive here, there’s no significant progress, I’ll have you all dead. If someone tries to escape, I’ll chase him until the end of the world and kill them. Not just that, I will have all those left behind take responsibility and kill them too.」
「Give it up. You have been captured by the worst of all humans. But if things go well, you will be able to live an enjoyable life. Believe it.」
「Don’t tell anyone about me unless I permit it, even if someone comes to ask. If you stumble upon me, don’t talk to me first, conversation will only begin when I come to talk to you.」
「Well then, I will look forward to results of your great efforts. Wouldn’t it be good if this place turned into a decent town?」
With this, the cleanup was over. Although I didn’t know if my attempt to put things in order would go well. And even if it did, I didn’t know if it would be of any use to me in the future.
But that was fine. I would think of what I could do about it when everything was finished.
“Those who are well-prepared will worry for nothing” – or so they said.