Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi wo Shite – Chapter 16 –
“The Resolve to Defy the World”
「Please, excuse me for a bit!」
After yelling to Maria in panic, Rion hurriedly left his seat and headed to Ariel’s table. Eyes of his lady only kept staring at him.
「Uhm….., You have come to visit the Academy milady? 」
Although he had nothing to be guilty of, being subjected to Ariel’s scowl always made Rion very nervous.
「Yes. Someone left the mansion, so my days have turned tedious. Perhaps, am I a …Hindrance?」
「How could that ever be….」
「First, sit down.」
「I am just a valet, I would not presume to sit with milady.」
「Sit with me? I only told you to sit down.」
「…Ah, so you did.」
Rion recognized that his intuition became dull due to not confronting Ariel’s fury in a long time. When she demanded he sit down, she did not actually refer to the chair but to the floor.
He immediately assumed a seiza form on the ground in front of Ariel.
[ TL Note : For those that don’t know what it is : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiza ]
「At once, milady.」
After he moved closer, as ordered, Ariel reached with her hands and pinched Rion’s cheeks. With this incident happening in public view, the maids attending Ariel thought of stopping her, but they immediately stiffened under her intense gaze.
「…Your eyepatch is in the way.」
「Milady, taking it off here…」
「…Can’t be helped I guess. So be it, there are more pressing matters than looking at your eyes.」
「You seem to be in need of chastisement.」
As she said so, both of Rion’s cheeks were clapped in her hands. This treatment was also something he wasn’t subjected to for a long time now.
「So enlighten me, what are you doing in this place?」
「W-we were only, discussing some matters, milady.」
「Who is that woman?」
「S-She is a student from the Academy attending the same year as Vincent-sama.」
While his cheeks were being struck, Rion was interrogated by Ariel in a strict tone. However, her eyes were already smiling. She was enjoying his presence after such a long time.
「What on earth might you be discussing with that woman, I wonder?」
「I… For now, I cannot…」
「…Ah, keeping secrets from me again?」
Ariel’s eyes twitched visibly. It was the proof that she was really angry now.
「N-No, milady, you’re mistaken! It just can’t be revealed here… It’s… Well, it’s the usual…」
「…Oh? …The usual?」
Though she was still far from being satisfied, Ariel ran out of things to complain about.
After all, she was the one who told Rion to do something about Vincent’s situation and because of that, she wasn’t really in a position to complain about his activities.
「…I see, I guess it can’t be helped then.」
After this, according to Rion’s experience, this matter would be settled relatively quickly, but contrary to what he expected, the person who always makes things complicated cut into the conversation.
「You, what are you doing to Rion-kun?」
And that was none other than Maria. As with Vincent, Maria is hostile towards Ariel from the start.
「How about introducing yourself before interfering? Or perhaps, do you even lack such basic manners?」
Ariel showed no signs of being perturbed. In this, she was very different from her brother Vincent.
「Spare me. After all, I am not really interested in who you are.」
「What did you say!?」
「Would you please leave us? I am currently in conversation with Rion here.」
Ariel said so while showing a smile on her face. It was conduct becoming of a noble lady– or rather, a dignified conduct, one would not expect from a child.
「…D-Doing that to Rion-kun… 」
Maria was able to stammer some words, despite clearly being pressured by Ariel’s aura.
「Stop being cruel to him.」
「…Cruel? What might you be talking about? When did I ever do something cruel to Rion?」
「Right now, In the public eye, you are making him perform a seiza on the ground.」
「And what is wrong with that?」
「What did you say?」
「Sometimes, I also make him kneel. Others too, it’s not like I’m singling him out.」
「This way of flouting your social status is the problem!」
Maria shouted after somehow regaining her vigor, but…
「…I truly cannot understand you. Flouting my social status? This?」
Ariel inquired with a puzzled look on her face.
「An aristocrat like you will never understand!」
「Oh dear, it seems I’m not the only one failing at comprehension. In the end, you also fail to grasp the situation.」
It wasn’t that Ariel suddenly understood what Maria was just saying, but she was certain that the attitude she witnessed was a very serious misconduct.
「What exactly do I not understand!?」
「Let me help you a bit. Who do you think you are talking to?」
「….Ariel-san of House Windhill.」
「Bravo. So you know who I am, yet behave like this regardless. What House do you happen to belong to?」
「…It’s House Theodore.」
With Ariel not rising to her provocations and continuing to answer in a calm demeanor, Maria began to feel uneasy. She immediately realized that things weren’t proceeding into her desired direction.
「Theodore… Theodore… Wasn’t there a baronet of that name…」
Ariel could recall all Houses with a peerage. After all, that was knowledge expected of a noble lady. But she, mastering it at her current age even including the baronets, was splendid at this.
「That’s probably the one you’re thinking of, Theodore.」
「Splendid. I understand you’re a commoner then?」
「And, what is wrong with that?」
「You’re a commoner displaying gross impertinence in front of an aristocrat. Are you not aware that’s a punishable crime?」
「I will not yield to such threats!」
「I care little for your thoughts on this matter. This is the law. I am invoking the law. I expect your conduct to be punished.」
「There is a class system in this kingdom. This system is protected by law. Are you not even aware of that?」
–Was unknown to her. But even if she did know, her attitude wouldn’t change. She thought that the things she did were permitted by default due to her being a protagonist.
「So you actually didn’t know. After all, in front of the law ignorance excuses no one.」
「…What wrong did I even commit?」
But even so, she was not able to act tough in front of Ariel. Ariel had the aura of a person that would not permit such a thing.
「That is a question for the person judging my claim. Punishment adequate to your misdeeds will be also in his remit.」
Ariel completely overwhelmed Maria. Whether that was due to her being the antagonist in this game was unknown to Rion. The only thing he understood was that the two girls, who should never be allowed to meet together, encountered each other in such a way and splendidly opened hostilities.
Keeping in mind that it could be the game plot correction at work, made him grow more anxious.
Ariel turned her sight to a silent Rion again and didn’t concern himself with Maria anymore.
「Well then, when will we meet next?」
「…I would expect that to happen during New Year’s break, milady.」
Rion wondered why she asked that when he knew that Ariel was not in a habit of asking such obvious questions.
「Oh? Are you never coming to this place again?」
「I… Had no more plans to do so?」
「In that case next week at the same time will be perfect.」
「You clearly have free time, you shall spend it for my sake. Won’t that be just splendid?」
「…As you say, milady.」
Rion wouldn’t be able to defy something that was so strongly demanded by Ariel. To be exact, he didn’t even feel like defying. Although, this particular request would be at the expense of his sleeping time.
「Well then, I shall excuse myself for today. Rion, let us meet again next week.」
「With greatest pleasure, Ariel-sama.」
Hearing the words of Ariel, her maids hurriedly run out off the shop to call the carriage that was parked nearby.
Ariel, being aware of that, spent some time in conversation with the shop owner praising the desserts before unhurriedly exiting the shop.
Rion could only see off her back.
「Rion-kun, if you are ever subjected to cruelty again, you can talk to me about it anytime.」
「After all, our circumstances are similar. I think, I somehow understand how you feel.」
Rion didn’t notice yet that the protagonist, Maria, already recognized him as a capture target. Maria’s complaints about Rion’s treatment were an attempt by her to sway Rion by a display of sympathy.
That in itself was all that Rion could have hoped for, but the final outcome, unfortunately, did not follow his plan.
Rion’s main miscalculation was in thinking that Maria was aiming for a specific route while in reality, she was aiming for a reverse harem situation.
She set her sights on multiple targets and never limited herself to just one.
One of the choices he thought he had was to let himself be the preferred target, and have Maria abandon the ‘Crown Prince Arnold route’, but that proved to be a non-starter.
Now, in complete contrast to what he wanted, Rion was just added as one of her many objectives. Still, even though he was doing that himself now that the opponent tried it on him, the feeling of being manipulated was unpleasant.
Nonetheless, for the sake of his intelligence gathering, being closer to target was convenient, so he decided to keep in close contact with Maria. Although this course of action brought great discomfort to him, that much was still acceptable.
Anyhow, Maria was getting proactive, boldly approaching Rion so much that it made Ryou wonder whether this game was possibly an eroge. However, according to Rion’s investigation, that was not the case.
At the very least, according to his information, her relationship with Lancelot, who approached her the most, was platonic. That left him to wonder again why did she behave in the way she did, but before long that also became clear.
There were capture targets that Maria knew how to trigger flags for and ones she didn’t. Rion belonged to the latter category.
That was why she tried so many various kinds of approaches.
Many times it was showing her sympathy towards Rion’s past and current life circumstances. On other occasions, she would try to show how wonderful it was to live freely or get him to talk about his dreams. There were also times when she even invited Rion for a heart-to-heart talk about his hardships.
“Succeeding by any means necessary”, this expression fit her actions perfectly.
[PR now thinks that she investigated Rion from Erwin through Lancelot’s tea party]
By encountering the conquest targets at the right time and place, she would trigger an event and set the flags that would help deepen her relationship with them. Just like in the game.
Rion was able to find out one more thing relating to this.
Maria aimed not only for the capture targets of the game she played, but she also set her sights on the people she met in this world.
Rion found that really greedy and grew to hate Maria even more, but that was three days ago.
Now he still hated her, but his feelings were no longer limited to just that and turned rather complex.
The reason for that lied in the fruits of his hard work in investigating her.
Patiently putting up with Maria brought him a success. He obtained information that would make the aims behind him approaching Maria nearly realized.
There was a notebook that Maria stealthily glanced into at times. In that notebook, all the information about the game that Maria knew was written. She was always consulting that before making a move.
How was he able to find out about that? By peeking, obviously.
She usually kept it close to her chest, but Rion, by exploiting a small window of opportunity, was able to look at its contents. Because there was little time, he was not able to read it all, but he was able to roughly understand the contents.
There were descriptions of capture targets’ personalities along with notes on how to get acquainted with them and how to raise their flags. There were also names other than the capture targets. These included Ariel and Vincent.
Although these entries were mostly things that Rion could never get himself to agree with, it was pointless to worry about that. He calmed himself by thinking it was probably just the information from the game.
But what really caught the attention of Rion was the last page. The things written there had no relation whatsoever to the capture targets but involved an event that was supposed to happen once the story progressed forward past the capturing stage.
This was what made Rion’s feelings regarding Maria complicated.
His biggest problem with Maria was Ariel’s denunciation event. He established that even amongst all the rival characters, Ariel ranked as the most important. There was little detail about the event written but, it looked like that all the censure heaped by Ariel at the protagonist would be revealed and condemned by the public. It was highly likely to affect her engagement with Crown Prince Arnold.
In other words, the event that Rion had to prevent at all cost.
Even by using his last resort solution— Well, that was how things should be, but he was still hesitating. It was due to an event that would follow up shortly after.
『The Devil Extermination Event』.
An event where Maria, along with people she captured in the Academy would fight against a devil that would attack the royal castle. It seemed that this was the goal of the game.
If she and her comrades would be able to fend off the attack, the game would be beaten successfully. Failing would also result in a game over, but since all the characters perish and the kingdom falls, that ending is bad.
The reason why Maria flips her skirt at anyone was for the sake of gathering as many allies as possible and succeeding during this event. Now, Rion understood that much.
It was truly a simple, uninteresting and rather worthless game that neither he or Ryou would ever consider playing– but he couldn’t just opt out.
After all, the country that was going to fall was the one he was currently living in.
If he killed Maria, the story might end even before reaching the attack of the devil. The kingdom would fall apart. Well then, should he let the story run its course to Ariel’s future disaster? That wasn’t something he could do either.
If he was able to fight off the devil after killing Maria, then everything would be fine. He was considering the possibility that killing her might result in the game world breaking free from the plot rails, but that was by no means guaranteed.
Rion faced a dilemma that he had no solution for.
Feeling pain in his cheek, Rion’s consciousness was brought back down to earth.
Ariel’s green eyes were glaring at him. He suddenly remembered that he was in the middle of a tea party that she regularly organized every week.
「Are you paying attention now?」
「Do excuse me, milady, I was lost in thought.」
「Which was rather rude of you. You are not yourself recently, what plagues your thoughts so much?」
「Cat got your tongue?」
Ariel, in general, was strangely worried about him hiding things. Just like right now. In addition, the sharpness of her glare has increased.
「Then stop hesitating and say your mind.」
「What does milady think of his majesty, the Crown Prince?」
「Forgive me please, I shouldn’t have.」
「….So why? …What makes you ask that??」
「In my heart, I am uneasy with the concept of a marriage arranged at birth. I understand such a thing is normal in the world of high nobles and yet… Could I hear milady’s thoughts on the matter?」
「…To ask such an odd question… Why?」
She asked again, however, this time, while saying that, Ariel’s face was full of melancholy. Rion, on the other hand, turned all gloomy thinking that he just asked something that he should’ve never had.
「…This is just the way things are, I suppose..」
But even despite the mood, Ariel still answered Rion’s question.
「Is it due to aristocrats’ sense of duty?」
「Does that really even need to be said?」
「I beg your forgiveness again.」
「Stop apologizing each and every time, it’s tedious. Like you said, it is a norm for a young lady to marry a stranger, and by chance, for me, that stranger is his majesty Arnold.」
「Does that future make Ariel-sama happy?」
「…This was too presumptuous of me, please pretend you heard nothing.」
Ariel just glared at Rion without saying anything. He somehow managed to both understand and misunderstands her feelings at the same time.
She was not angry about being asked this question. It was the fact that it was Rion who asked that made her infuriated. And because she couldn’t even vent that frustration to him, she had no choice but to stay silent.
「May I ask another strange question?」
Not being able to bear with the awkward atmosphere any longer, Rion decided to change the subject.
「What is it this time?」
「Has milady ever heard about the devil?」
「Devil? The one from the nursery tales?」
「…If you’re not asking about that, then what on earth are referring to?」
「I stumbled upon a weird rumor the other day. It seemed to be oddly credible, so to hear that it’s just a nursery tale makes me quite surprised.」
「Was it about a revival of the devil that would bring this world to ruin?」
「Yes. That was exactly it.」
「Do you really believe in things like that?」
「It seemed somewhat compelling and was supposed to happen in the near future..」
「I see… The ending of the fables I heard was rather incoherent, only good for scaring little children.」
「Why was that?」
「”If you’re really bad, the devil will come and take you” – Truly something only kids would take seriously.」
That really was a common theme for the nursery tales. However, Rion knew that there was a good chance that this particular one would come true.
「If the devil really came, what would Rion do?」
This time, it was Ariel’s turn to ask Rion a question.
「Escape of course.」
It looked like Rion made Ariel angry again.
「Planning to run and leave me behind?」
「Ah! In that scenario, I would, of course, give it my all fighting for milady..」
「There’s no need to try protecting me at all cost.」
「I respectfully disagree. Protecting you, milady, is the main reason I joined house Windhill. I would not have it any other way..」
This time, Rion’s words caused a smile to bloom on Ariel’s face. That smile came from the depths of her heart, a side of her she seldom revealed. Rion was completely captivated by it.
The reason behind the 『I will protect Ariel』 vow that Rion made a core of himself changed into being only half motivated by responsibility.
Now, the other half came from the fervent desire to protect her smile.
With the smile he wanted to protect disappearing, Ariel’s face had turned serious once more.
「I… Will become the Queen.」
「…So you will, milady.」
That was synonymous to being married to Crown Prince Arnold.
「When that time comes, I shall abandon my personal feelings and devote my very being to this country.」
「That sounds right.」
「That’s why… At the very least, I do not wish to kill these feelings in me before that fateful day..」
「I don’t think, milady, that anyone would begrudge you that.」
Ariel’s feelings were Rion’s top priority no matter what.
「That selfishness of mine will be source of many troubles for you, you know..」
「I pledged to protect Ariel-sama, I would never be deterred by just that.」
「Yes. And that resolve will not change, whether it be now or in the future.」
「…It’s the least I can do.」
Rion was astonished by her words. It was the first time that Ariel conveyed words of gratitude to him.
「Why, exactly, are you startled now?」
Seeing Rion’s startled expression, Ariel’s aura returned to normal.
「No reason, milady. Would you please allow me to say one last thing?」
「No matter what I do from now on. No matter how it looks to the surroundings. Will you please remember and have faith that all of it is for your sake?」
「And where did that come from?」
「Can you please believe that even with no reason offered?」
「…Really now. Fine, so be it. Since it can’t be helped, no matter what happens from now on I will believe in you.」
「I am extremely grateful for that.」
(*TN : Please get married already.)
What Rion, having resolved himself to do anything it takes, feared the most was losing Ariel’s trust. Even though he tried to prepare himself for that eventuality, he couldn’t help but plead for her faith nonetheless.
It was because if he didn’t, he was not confident that he could gather enough resolve.
His last resort was to kill Maria. But because doing so looked impossible, he understood that by attempting that he would certainly lose his life as a consequence.
But that was what it took to defy the world itself.
There goes the today’s chapter. I am also planning to complete the chapter 17 today or at least if fate let’s me do it. We also took a more moderate approach in editing, maybe not noticeable but please do tell us if you have inputs.
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