Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi wo Shite – Chapter 18:
“The Day of the Villainess’ Ascend to the Stage ”
Numerous carriages loaded with luggage were arriving one after another. Crammed with personnel handling that baggage, the school gate was in complete turmoil
It was a spectacle that could be seen every year due to the arrival of new school attendees.
In order to avoid that scrum, Rion and Vincent stood beside each other, some distance away from the gate, gazing at the scene.
「They have arrived!」
After finally spotting the carriage they had been waiting for, Rion raised his voice.
「So they have. Shall we go and welcome them?」
The two of them began running towards the gate. Their destination was a carriage carrying House Windhill coat of arms.
After two of her maids disembarked, Ariel showed up in the carriage’s door.
Spotting Rion who came to pick them up, she muttered his name.
She surprised him by presenting her hands in his direction, but he complied without protest and helped her down. Ariel descended with a satisfied smile.
「I wonder who did you learn this from?」
Ariel asked holding the hand that he offered in assistance.
「Vincent-sama educated me on this subject, milady.」
「Onii-sama did? Since when did my dear brother have this mischievous side to him, I wonder? 」
「You wound me, sister, this was not mischief, but consideration.」
「…Which is no less surprising in itself.」
It was the first time that Ariel heard the word “consideration” coming from Vincent.
「Really now. Even I am capable of maturing somewhat. But enough of that for now, we need to move on not to hinder other Houses unduly. Rion, take care of the luggage please.」
This was surprising to hear too. A scene where Vincent would actually pay mind to other people beyond lip service had never occurred in Ariel’s imagination. She thought that Vincent might have matured indeed.
And it was most-likely due to the person who promptly picked up her luggage, Rion.
「Rion, there’s scant need for you to carry all that personally. We are not lacking in number of servants here.」
Rather than having him carry her luggage, having spare time to talk with Rion was more important to Ariel.
「Milady, won’t the rest of staff be busy with Erwin-sama’s belongings?」
「…Now that you mention it.」
It was not unusual for Rion to be considerate to others, but it didn’t sit well with Ariel if the person in question was Erwin.
「Were milady and Erwin-sama not traveling together?」
「We have separated from the start. I decided to depart while they were still in the middle of preparations.」
She recalled telling her parents that travel at a leisurely pace would be preferable and breaking free from their embrace as they shed tears.
「Is that so… Nevertheless, I will take your luggage now. I imagine it is important to unpack them soon, so taking care of the matter promptly won’t be a bad thing.」
「I suppose you are correct.」
「In that case, please follow me.」
「Oh? You know the way to the ladies’ dormitory? Why is that?」
「Eh? I thought it prudent to be familiar with all places within the premises…」
「…This can’t be faulted. Lead the way then.」
Ariel’s jealousy was immediately at full throttle right after arrival. Having not realized Ariel’s favor even with this, Rion was considerably thickheaded.
But that was because he convinced himself that Ariel, an aristocrat of a prestigious House, wouldn’t see a mere valet like him as a man that could be together with her.
On the other hand, Vincent, who was forced to see the two of them being like this had glad yet melancholic feelings about it.
After graduating from the Academy, the two would enter adulthood. What was waiting for Ariel there was her marriage to Crown Prince Arnold. Ariel and Rion only had three more years together to spend their time like this.
He was conflicted between wanting them to treasure their prized time together and having them remain oblivious due to the grief that awaited them once the time passed if they became aware of their feelings.
「Onii-sama! If you keep standing there, you will be a hindrance!」
Unaware of the worries of her older brother, the little sister called with an obvious sarcasm tied to the words that Vincent said earlier.
「Yes, yes, I know. I’m coming.」
Vincent could only follow her small back.
After carrying the luggage to the dorm, it was now the handmaidens’ job to unpack it. Relieving Rion from his burden, Ariel strolled along the school building accompanied by him.
Their destination was the Lounge.
Vincent didn’t come with them. It was to avoid any further troubles from happening. Anyhow, he wanted to avoid coming in contact with Maria and if possible, Lancelot as well. Naturally, this course of action was recommended by Rion
With Vincent being a stepping stone character, that’s even less important than the antagonist, his reputation would certainly fall upon coming into contact with Maria.
Although Rion wanted to avoid having Ariel encountering Maria too, such suggestions were doomed to fail. A meeting with Ariel’s fiance, Crown Prince Arnold couldn’t be avoided and having to meet with him meant that meeting with Maria was inevitable.
Their business in the Lounge today was precisely to meet Arnold and have Ariel offer her greetings upon joining the Academy. In Ariel’s circumstances, this act was an unavoidable responsibility.
「Please inform his highness that lady Ariel Windhill wishes for a moment of his time.」
Rion stated their intentions to the usher guarding the entrance.
Hearing this, the royal servant entered the Lounge, most likely to ask for instructions.
「What is this place?」
「I… believe this is the Lounge?」
Rion was bewildered by the question as Ariel should have known that.
「Is all this ceremony necessary for the meeting to happen?」
「That is so, milady.」
Ariel’s shapely eyebrows knitted together. It was a sign that she was displeased by something.
「Does this notion displease you milady?」
「Are you aware of the Academy’s customs?」
In this Academy, the commoners and royalties were taking lessons together. Although these days the students were assigned to a class mostly accordingly to their social status, originally that wasn’t the case.
The royal family and the aristocrats must hear the voice of the commoners. Overcoming the hurdle of social status difference, they were supposed to improve themselves together. Although the country itself was strict on social positions, for some reason the ideals of the Academy were designed to cross over that gap.
This Lounge’s existence was contradictory to that ideals. Or so Ariel narrated.
「I am aware of this, milady. I also judged it wise not to broach the subject.」
Ariel was not happy with Rion’s implied suggestion that this obvious wrong should not be corrected.
「There is nothing to be gained from this.」
「…One should right obvious wrongs.」
「One would expect the Queen to do so. Yes. But milady is yet to take the crown.」
「…That is …Not incorrect.」
Although her displeasure did not subside, she was able to understand him. Ariel voiced a reluctant assent.
「I apologize for making you wait. His highness, the Crown Prince required time to prepare himself adequately…」
「…Let us proceed, Ariel-sama.」
Rion became visibly discontent at the usher’s words. Since Ariel was Arnold’s fiance, meeting her was expected of him. Rion thought that proper etiquette demanded that he was the party to initiate the meeting.
But because Ariel didn’t seem to pay it any mind and entered the room without voicing any complaints, Rion also followed after her silently.
The Lounge was occupied by the usual faces.
There were two sofas in the middle of the room facing each other. The one farther from the entrance was occupied by Maria and Arnold, the other one was taken by Charlotte and Lancelot.
This arrangement stoked the flames of anger in Rion’s heart, but just like before, Ariel didn’t mention it with a single word.
She stepped forward, stood in front of the Crown Prince, and bowing elegantly she spoke.
「Your highness, it has been a long time.」
「…So it was.」
Arnold replied to the greetings clearly displeased.
「I have joined the ranks of the students today. I consider it a high honor to be in the same place as your highness from now on.」
「…I see. Is there anything else you require?」
「Nothing at all, I merely came to greet highness.」
「Very well, I bid you a good day then.」
「Of course your highness, I shall excuse myself.」
Arnold’s eyes had suddenly shown clear confusion. Rion found that attitude and cold words abominable and his impression of the Crown Prince worsened markedly.
「Now then. Rion, let us go back.」
As expected, Ariel still didn’t utter a word of complaint and with a composed voice, she only bade Rion to leave with her.
「The matter here is settled, it would be impolite to make onii-sama wait.」
If Ariel herself wouldn’t say a word about it, Rion had no choice but to stay silent. But even if that wasn’t the case, there’s no way he could actually voice his complaints directly to Arnold. Still, Rion’s composure tended to desert him when it came to things that would sadden Ariel.
Looking clearly unsatisfied he turned to follow behind Ariel and leave the room.
Not even realizing the wrath burning in Rion’s heart, which could be easily guessed by the tone of her voice, an insensitive voice called out to him. There was only one person that would do such a thing.
Feeling that he was not obligated to answer her, Rion ignored Maria.
「Rion-kun! Wait a little bit!」
Even this was ignored as he headed towards the room’s exit.
「Rude cur! Shouldn’t you answer when people call you?」
A male voice called out reproaching Rion’s attitude. He knew who it was without even needing to turn his back.
This time, it was not a person that he could ignore. Rion turned his head towards Lancelot.
「Pardon milord? Is there something that you wish from me?」
「Maria has a question for you, filth.」
「Ah, apologies. What is the matter Maria-sama? 」
「Since you came here already, would you stay and talk for a while?」
「I’m ashamed to admit to being confused, is that an invitation for lady Ariel?」
「No, I’m inviting you, Rion.」
「In that case, I’m afraid it’s impossible.」
「Why? Since you came here already anyway, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little chat?」
「I am here because I’m attending Ariel-sama, not on my own time.」
「I warn you, stop being rude, Maria is going to great lengths to invite you.」
Lancelot yet again has cut into the conversation. However, Rion couldn’t comprehend the reasoning behind his words. The one who was rude was clearly Maria, not him. But he wasn’t in a position to complain about this.
Normally, Rion would navigate the situation without giving anyone an opportunity to take offense, but right now he was still angry about prince Arnold’s behavior earlier.
So he was not able to bear with this any longer.
「Lancelot-sama, please hear me out.」
「This is the Lounge, a special place for high nobility and exceptional students. Don’t you think it would be outrageous for a simple common servant like me to participate in friendly discussions here?」
「It would… Not be acceptable most of the time. But Maria wishes it, so I shall offer a special dispensation on this occasion.」
After hearing this reply, Rion deduced that reasoning with Lancelot wouldn’t go anywhere. His words veiled a sarcasm aimed at Maria who acted as if she owned the place while being just a commoner.
However, Lancelot didn’t even notice that and replied normally. Furthermore, being given a special exception just because of Maria was an outcome beyond reason.
Lancelot was clearly in a state where it was unthinkable to expect proper judgment from him.
「Even with your magnanimity milord, I can not do that in good conscience. Forgive me for refusing.」
「Do you really think you can defy me unpunished?」
Hearing this, Rion thought that Lancelot was clearly more suited for the role of a villain.
However letting himself be distracted by such thoughts and not replying promptly was an error on Rion’s part. Because now Ariel inserted herself into the conversation.
「And what might you mean by that dear sir?」
「Did your hearing suffer with age? I shall repeat myself clearly then. Punishment? What do you mean by that Lancelot Minister Aquasmea?」
「I heard you from the start woman.」
「Then answer my question. Didn’t you just say it is rude not to do so?」
「…Your servant’s attitude is insulting for a person of my station. It deserves punishment. 」
「Tsk, tsk. I did not ask what do you see fit punishing, I am asking what do you understand by punishment.」
Lancelot was being overwhelmed by the aura that Ariel was emitting. In times like this, the pressure that Ariel brought to bear would be clearly felt even by her fellow aristocrats of the same rank. Forgetting the wrath within him, Rion was in awe of her demeanor.
「Hmph, unable to answer I see. Let me give you a hand and do so in your stead.」
「…What are you trying to say?」
「If you act in any way against Rion here, I will thoroughly savor the consequences you will face.」
「What did you say!?」「Ariel-sama!」
「This is a person of House Windhill. Acting against him is acting against my House. Is that clear enough?」
「Ariel-sama, that’s …」
「You be quiet. This is a noble dispute, mind yourself.」
「…Ariel Windhill, are you threatening a conflict between our families?」
Because the scope of what Ariel invoked grew huge, Lancelot was shaken. In reality, a marquess house wouldn’t make a move over a mere valet, but it seemed that comprehending that was beyond Lancelot at the moment.
「You started this Lancelot. The fault is yours too. Don’t you agree, your highness?」
「Ah, Eh, Yes」
*Because the subject was suddenly brought up to his attention, Arnold inadvertently agreed.
(*TN: Read as Pushover.)
「In that case, we are done here. Rion, we are leaving.」
「…At once, milady」
Ariel concluded the conversation before Arnold could even take back his words of agreement. With this, the incident ended in her favor.
But even so, Rion couldn’t help but curse his carelessness. He should’ve already learned that cases such as this wouldn’t end well, just like how they never did when Vincent was involved.
「I think it would be for the best to avoid unnecessary conflicts in the future. 」
「…This was nothing of the sort, I did what I had to.」
「Milady did it to cover for me. I am grateful, but that was not yet required at that moment.」
「I am a tool that should be of use to you. Milady should not tangle herself into conflicts over tools like me.」
Rion was unhappy with the actions she took for his sake. Ariel almost voiced her displeasure with his reaction but stopped herself with her face turning peevish.
「Please value yourself more. Having a confrontation against another marquess house, furthermore one involving the Crown Prince himself would deal a huge amount of damage to milady’s position.」
「There’s no way…」
「Ah stop already, it really is fine Arnold has hated me already for quite some time now.」
「The Crown Prince hates me. He always did, far before the betrothal came to be. 」
「….Why is that?」
It was the first time Rion heard this story.
「I wonder… I was still unaware of the circumstances back then. I believe back then I was really looking forward to meeting him and gave it my all to be a fitting partner for his highness.」
「So why did he come to hate you despite that?」
「Because I overdid it on our first meeting with my desire to be a proper fiance? For any number of other small reasons? I do not even really know which ones exactly. All of them perhaps?」
She could now properly look back at her previous actions, something which she failed to do during that time. It was not just because she had grown up. It was also because her feelings have already changed from back then.
「To think that Ariel-sama was this serious about his highness…」
But Rion failed to comprehend that.
「…Only feelings that are conveyed from the start matter, the ones that are unsaid hold no value.」
「I disagree milady, I believe you will be rewarded for thinking of your partner and working to fit him better. Even if you never said that you care so much.」
Rion paused realizing that his words were careless. More so because he himself did not believe that.
「…Feelings that are hidden hurt.」
「Yes, they do」
「But even so, thinking about the well being of your precious person and giving it your all for their sake, even if it brings you nothing in return……」
「I believe it still can bring happiness.」
「I see… I suppose you are right.」
He said he didn’t just “think” but “believe” that was the case. Ariel was not someone that would miss small details like this. Rion believed that he would still find happiness even if his feelings were not rewarded. However, what about herself? When she began thinking about that she couldn’t find it in herself to agree with him. Her reason knew that she shouldn’t think that way. However, her feelings disagreed.
Even if she acted mature, the feelings within Ariel’s heart were rather childish.
There we go, things are bound to get more interesting from here on now that your lovely villainess has entered the stage. I will be translating the first half of the next chapter today and hopefully be done with it tomorrow.
With all that said, please do look more forward to our releases.