Akuyaku Reijou no Koi wo Shite – Chapter 15 –
“There Is Something Odd About This World”
In front of him, numerous books were piled up. Rion requested some free time from Vincent and secluded himself in the library in order to search for something.
He was roughly done by now, but no matter how he searched, he wasn’t able to find anything new, only more things that supported his suspicions.
Knowing that, Rion stopped reading new books and put all his strength into thinking deeply instead.
There was something he couldn’t understand at all about the gossip that spread after the excursion trip. He couldn’t understand why the rumor that said “Vincent abandoned his valet in order to save himself” was so badly received.
Ryou, who was from another world, and even Flay, who only came from the slum area, were devoid of common knowledge. Rion, having enough self-awareness, was able to drill some of it into his head after working as a valet for a while.
He put special focus on studying about valets and their use for their masters and he thought he had a complete understanding of that.
According to that general knowledge of Rion, Vincent’s action was proper behavior for an aristocrat and there should’ve been no room for criticism. Thinking that his knowledge might have been lacking, he secluded himself to read more books on the subject, but in the end, he was only able to arrive at the conclusion that the action they had taken was correct.
If that was the case, then another question resurfaced. There had been numerous times in the past when detestable rumors against Vincent had been circulating. Feeling that the gossip going around had been arbitrary, Rion had set his sights on the possible perpetrators.
The only one with the capability for such actions was Lancelot of the House Aqusmea.
It was strange for Lancelot to see Vincent as his enemy to such an extent. Although that incident during the trial ceremony would be enough to earn some anger, that should not be enough for outright enmity at this point. The connection to Erwin, Vincent’s step brother could be a factor, but currently, Rion had no way to investigate that possibility.
Besides, the source of Lancelot’s anger towards Vincent was not really important. What was important was that it was impossible for Lancelot who is also a member of a marquess family to spread this particular kind of rumor.
Lancelot and Vincent had received the same education. It was unthinkable that Lancelot could consider the current rumor as something bad. Of course, there was also the possibility that the person himself thought otherwise, but he was not an idiot to the point of expecting other aristocratic lordlings to share the same opinion.
This led to one conclusion. At the very least, the current set of rumors was not spread by Lancelot. Well, who was behind it then? One person easily came to Rion’s mind.
Like Lancelot, that person saw Vincent as an enemy for unfathomable reasons. It was Maria Theodore whose attitude towards Vincent was even stranger than Lancelot’s.
No matter how one thought about it Maria’s willingness to disparage Vincent despite her social status was very odd. So far he brushed off that impertinent attitude despite being able to retaliate if he felt like it. She might have the Crown Prince Arnold’s and Lancelot’s backing, but her taking action to aggravate the situation, even more, was incomprehensible.
Furthermore, although her behavior was clearly akin to that of a small person borrowing the authority of others, it seemed that the girl herself was thinking that her actions were just even though her accusations had always been unfair.
The option that she was ignorant of the ways of the world was not possible. Even Flay, who had been living in the slums, knew that one must not disobey an aristocrat. There was no way that her parents while sending her to attend the Royal Academy, wouldn’t have told her that too.
That being the case, the question of what was wrong with that woman raised dark feelings within Rion’s heart.
Not only he and Flay, but even Ryou could confirm that the words of Maria were unfair.
And that her thoughts seemed not to be rooted in this world’s mentality but in one from the other world that Ryou had lived in. A female, who had the same line of thought as Ryou, in other words, someone from another world who retained her memories.
Rion couldn’t deny that there could be other existences similar to him. There was no need to deny it either.
But if Maria is indeed that kind of existence, then, according to Ryou’s knowledge, there was one more possibility. One that Rion wanted to deny at all cost.
His heart began to throb faster at the thought and he attempted to slow it down with numerous deep breaths. This seemed to work and his feelings became calmer.
He decided that rather than losing his mind over maybes, the time has come to take action and confirm what was going on. Rion slowly stood up from his seat.
Maria Theodore. According to the records, she was an outstanding student who ranked second to the Crown Prince. There were also rumors circulating that her magical prowess exceeded Charlotte’s, Lancelot’s and even Arnold’s.
The fact that a commoner surpassed the prince’s talent for magic was something that wouldn’t usually be accepted. These things were only discussed in the shadows, though, and magical aptitude was not something that could be easily compared. But even so, it was a fact that her talent in magic was not something that you wouldn’t expect from a person of her social status.
Only aristocratic bloodlines carried talent. In a world where this was a fact, her existence was something out of place.
Also, she might formally be a commoner, but her background was rather complicated. Originally, she was an orphan that was adopted by the current baronet Theodore as a child. The reason for adoption was her lovely appearance and talent.
The reason why they were able to discover her talent at such a young age seemed to be her black hair and blue eyes which apparently made it obvious.
It seemed that heredity-disregarding black hair on a person was a proof that they would excel in magic. No matter how he investigated, Rion was not able to find out why that was. It looked like a legend. The deep cerulean eyes of hers were also a proof of her affinity to the water attribute. Rion knew that already.
If black hair really indicated that someone was talented in magic, then at the very least this applied to Rion too, but it was not something for him to be happy about. He didn’t want to stand out after all. Fortunately, thanks to it not being a widely accepted fact, Rion’s surroundings never made a clamor about it.
Anyhow, Maria’s talent was able to exceed even the high expectations of her adoptive parents. She displayed a surprising level of intelligence ever since she was a child and probably thanks to the enthusiastic tutelage of her parents, she was able to show her talent in magic from a young age too. Her already lovely appearance improved even more and as a result, little adorable Maria had turned into a beauty.
Then she enrolled in the Royal Academy with the burden of her parent’s expectation on her shoulders.
If Maria managed to have her talent displayed and recognized by the public, then this would create an opportunity for a life peerage family to be recognized as hereditary nobles.
When he finished reading the reports about the aristocratic houses made for Vincent’s preparations, Rion broke into a deep sigh.
Unfortunately, the contents looked roughly as he expected.
It only reinforced the results of his investigations in the Royal Academy. Being gifted with beauty and talent, Maria, who was like a higher existence, had many admirers but consequently many opponents as well
It’s easy to tell that the ones who admire her are the male students and that she was a focus of the intense animosity of the female students. This as well was as he expected.
It seemed she was subjected to frequent chastisements from the female student body as a result of terrible jealousy. However, Maria didn’t look disheartened by that. She bravely put up with all the nasty treatment, no matter how bad it got.
She was supported in this by Lancelot and recently by Crown Prince Arnold, who suddenly closed his distance to her. The two protected Maria in one way or another. That as well was fuelling the vicious circle of female students’ jealousy, but for the three of them, it was something irrelevant.
The Salon which was supposed to be exclusively for upper echelons of society now became their place to relax with Charlotte included.
Although they did it so she wouldn’t be subjected to harassment, but because she wasn’t supposed to be in there, it was having the opposite effect. For them to not realize such a thing, they must have really been engrossed by Maria.
So just who the hell was Maria Theodore? Rion kept thinking about it. He was able to confirm his suspicions but despite that, he tried to completely deny his conclusions.
He refused to acknowledge his suspicions again and again, but the astounding possibility still remained. Moreover, that was the only possibility that wasn’t ruled out, so in the end, Rion had to resolve himself and face it.
In the end, his conclusion was— that this world was not an ordinary parallel world. He feared that it was likely, that this world was a game and Maria was its protagonist. And she, aware of that fact, was acting accordingly to her game knowledge.
If that was all, then he wouldn’t mind. Even if she conquered the Crown Prince and other young lords, and even if she wanted to indulge herself in such situations he still wouldn’t mind. However, there was a reason why Rion could never let it end that way.
In otome games, besides the capture targets, there were also villain characters that would hinder the protagonist. Judging from the situation, it was likely that Vincent was one of those villains, and following the usual conventions, he was probably the stepping stone that would help the protagonist stand out.
And that would make the fiancée of the Crown Prince Arnold, Ariel —- just by thinking about it, flames of hatred started to rise in Rion’s heart. Rion would never permit anything that would sadden Ariel.
Even if that something was the protagonist of this world.
「For Rion himself to invite me out. How wonderful!」
「Maria-sama looked genuinely worried about me during the excursion incident. I cannot possibly keep ignoring such a thing forever.」
Rion replied with a smile, while Maria seemed to enjoy herself. He was hiding his true intentions splendidly.
「I think it would be nice if you talked to me in a less reserved manner.」
She replied slightly inclining her head to one side with eyes upturned. Many would probably find such a gesture lovely to behold.
「This is how I normally talk, so it is easier for me.」
「Even if that’s the case. At the very least, the name…」
「Just Maria would be fine.」
「I can’t possibly do such a thing. I am not even a fellow student, merely a valet of House Windhill.」
「However, I am a commoner too.」
「…If the memory does not fail me, you are a member of a baronet family, are you not?」
「T-That’s right. However, a life peer is not really recognized as a noble.」
It was unusual to hear these kinds of things directly from someone like Maria. What was normal was for one at baronet level to want to be somehow recognized as an aristocrat.
「That’s right, however, that is only from the viewpoint of a hereditary noble, for a commoner like me, it is still a house with a peerage.」
「Is that so?」
「But you know…」
It seems that for Maria, being recognized as coming from a noble house was not very desirable. Although Rion didn’t know why would that be, he lodged that information at the corner of his mind. His current objective was to obtain any possible information about Maria.
「…I understand. In that case, would calling you by Maria-san suffice?」
「The -san is… No, that’s fine, isn’t it! Right, that’s fine!」
Maria broke into a dazzling smile. As a result, even Rion, who did not hold favorable opinion towards the female gender, ended up with a startled expression on his face. Every time odd feelings like those gushed up from within his heart, Rion switched personalities. Although he wasn’t able to completely change the consciousness, just by switching between Ryou and Flay, he was able to mitigate the effect.
The thing that helped to reduce was the influence of Maria’s charm. Although he didn’t really know whether there was charming magic or something else occurring, he was able to notice it having some kind of effect on his heart.
Only because he could contain his heart from a third party perspective he was able to prevent it from taking hold.
And Maria’s charm, being able to impact Rion with his high resistance to emotional influences, was clearly a frighteningly powerful force.
Although he understood that it might be one of the special powers granted to a protagonist, given its actual power, he wondered if there really was a need to make it so strong.
He allowed himself to indulge in the pointless thought that, perhaps, this game was actually ridiculously boring.
「Well then, where are we going?」
「Ah, I apologize. I haven’t really given it a thought.」
「I-I see. You haven’t made any plans prior to inviting me, huh?」
She probably thought that plans for a date should come from the boy. She wasn’t really wrong. It was just that Rion wasn’t thinking of this meeting as a date.
「No, I haven’t. But if we’re at it, shall we go to a shop that I know?」
「A shop that Rion-kun knows? I wonder what kind of shop that is?」
「It’s a shop that serves delicious sweets.」
「Ah, that is nice! I’ve been craving for delicious sweets recently.」[ TL Note : “sweets” here and in the rest of the conversation was written in English in the raw text.
ED Note : Chief Editor-san pointed out chapter 9(Rion seducing maids chapter) had Rion talking about desserts, not sweets, so it should not be confused with.]
Maria’s response was perfect. It was the best payoff for the risk Rion took in this conversation. This world didn’t use the word “Sweets” to describe confectionaries. There could be no mistake, even the servants back in the mansion did not know it. Maria, having understood, clearly must have had the knowledge from Ryou’s world.
That suspicion was thus confirmed.
Rion decided to close the distance to Maria he maintained so far.
In reality, he inwardly desired to kill her already without hesitation, but he made himself stop that train of thought. It was because of Ryou’s doubts on whether protagonists were so easy to kill in the first place.
With this world being a game and Maria its protagonist, the whole reality was warped in her favor. It was was a phenomenon that could be called “plot armor”.
In truth, Rion was wondering if the rumors regarding Vincent, were also somehow a result of this.
Anyhow, it was unthinkable to kill the protagonist of a game with plot armor present. It would be good if this was a game with possible bad ends where protagonist dies, but right now Rion was unable to tell what kind of game this was, and even if he was, there was no way for Ryou, who had never played games of this particular genre, to know the details of this particular one.
Well then, how should he proceed?
The first option would be to hinder her conquest, but Maria probably knew everything about the routes, having the knowledge of this game. The other option would be, at the very least, to prevent her from advancing towards the route that was inconvenient for Rion.
That meant preventing her from conquering Crown Prince Arnold, who was the fiancé of Ariel.
If this worked, Ariel would not become a rival character. Although she wouldn’t really become totally unrelated, the importance of her role would diminish greatly.
To make this a reality, Rion decided to get closer to Maria.
They went to the shop Rion visited numerous times before. Vincent’s purveyor shop. For Vincent, who was very particular about his desserts, only the most delicious ones should be given to him.
「Oh my, welcome to our shop.」
The shop assistant, being well acquainted with Rion, approached and greeted him.
「Today I’m here on personal business, there is no need for that kind of greeting.」
「Personal business? A-Ah, no…. but….」
After seeing Maria behind Rion, the shop assistant was able to deduce his purpose, but for some reason, she was still rather inarticulate.
「Since it’s a personal visit, I think you won’t mind me coming with another person right?」
To Rion, that attitude behind the shop assistant’s inquiries brought a feeling of discomfort.
「Yes, that is a matter of course, but….」
「Can we take one of the empty seats?」
The shop attendant, still about to ask something, was cut off by Rion. He didn’t want her to have any strange speculations about his relationship with Maria.
「…Yes. Please come in.」
Right after that reply, Rion immediately went towards a vacant table. Doing so, in turn, attracted the curiosity of other customers.
With him wearing an eyepatch on his effeminate face, and the beauty of Maria in his company taking people aback, there was no way for the two to be inconspicuous.
Although Rion was already used to the unpleasant stares from the surroundings, the ones he was currently subjected to had a different feel to them and made him feel awkward.
But upon arriving at their table, Rion thought that after coming this far, there was no merit in paying them any mind and he erased the feeling from his consciousness.
「This shop has a really nice mood to it.」
「Does it? Well, beautiful things are beautiful. It’s a high-class shop on its own after all.」
「Contrary to expectations, due to my position I only know these kinds of shops. After all, I don’t have to shop for my personal needs.」
「Don’t tell me you do not even get breaks?」
「There are no fixed break periods. However, when I really need one, it is usually granted, so I find that arrangement sufficient.」
「Is that so? Rion-kun is an orphan, right?」
「…Who did you hear that from?」
「Who did Lancelot-sama hear it from?」
「That’s… Are you angry?」
「Do excuse me, Vincent-sama was the only one who was supposed to know of my origins, so I simply wondered how did this information travel around..」
「I see. It seems Lancelot had heard it from Erwin-kun.」
「Oh, so that was the case. Is Maria-san acquainted with Erwin-sama?」
「I met him once. Lancelot organized a tea party at his place and I met him there.」
「So that’s how it was.」
It was truly easier to gather information from Maria. Was she not aware of the current turmoil inside the House Windhill, or perhaps did she know, but simply didn’t care enough to hide the relevant information?
The graveness of this revelation depended on which of the two was true. If it was the latter, then that would be a huge problem for Vincent.
「I have also heard about other things.」
「Would you please elaborate?」
「Were you not subjected to a very cruel treatment?」
「…To this extent?」
If it was just her knowing about Rion being an orphan, then it was fine. But if she even knew about the heterochromatic eyes, then that would be a problem. If it was discovered that his valet carries heterochromia, more malicious rumors would circulate about Vincent.
「That’s right. I heard you were even being called a pet. Is that not cruel? For them to treat a human being as a pet.」
「Eh, so you meant that?」
Why was a matter from so long ago brought up by Maria? It was so unexpected that Rion replied inadvertently.
「Ah, apologies. It’s just that it never really bothered me. In result of all this, my life was spared after all.」
「That’s just them tricking you. All people have the fundamental right to live.」
「That’s correct. Even Rion-kun has it. Having the right to live is something obvious. Because of that, I think that demanding a favor for such a thing is unfair.」
As expected, Maria’s argument was really incomprehensible to Rion. Even Ryou felt like that. Though he knew what she meant, he had no idea why such an issue was brought up by her here.
「I… Want to be Rion-kun’s strength. I don’t know what I can do alone, but if we can gather everyone’s power, I’m sure it would amount to something.」
Maria said this, while intently staring into his eyes with a serious face. Before he knew it, her hands were already clasping his.
Her unrestrainedly assertive approach was bewildering to him.
「Erm… For the time being, shall we place an order?」
「…Ah, w-we should, shouldn’t we?」
Not knowing how to react, Rion decided to change the topic. Unfortunately for him, it was already too late.
The shop attendant taking Rion’s order looked very worried as she interrupted their conversation.
「Uhm…, I’m sorry, but she seems to be angry…」
「I think that person seems to be quite angry…」
「What are you talking about?」
「Like I said..」
Moving his line of sight towards the place the shop attendant was being conscious of, he saw…
The figure of Ariel, with her arms trembling, standing there with a fearsome smile on her face.
[ ED Note: And now please join us in prayer for the late valet Rion. May his soul rest in peace ^_^ ]
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