Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi wo Shite:
Arnold was evaluated highly by others.
His grades were always the best. Even though his magic prowess was not up to that standard, it still placed in the elite category and, as if to compensate for that slight flaw, he was also blessed with a talent in swordsmanship. Being able to incorporate magic into his bladework with the『Blazing Sword』skill put him at the top among his age within the kingdom.
On top of that, he was already displaying the majesty befitting a future king and there was a growing anticipation that his name would most likely be etched into the pages of history.
This made him a capture target that was way above the rest. Although obviously, just like every other living being, he was not perfect. The Crown Prince did have a flaw as well.
Or rather, it would be more accurate to call it a complex rather than a flaw. It was something similar to what Vincent suffered from before.
An anger at people around him that only bothered to see him through a narrow lens of “excellent crown prince”.
Arnold had earnestly worked hard to become a fitting candidate to be the next monarch ever since he was a child. Although those labors brought fruit, he was convinced no one recognized the effort he was making.
Everyone only praised his excellence while saying that this much was expected from the next king. Every time he was praised like this, Arnold thought he did not excel because of who he was, he excelled because he worked hard for it. Although that was a peevish person’s way of thinking, it could be explained by the heavy pressure his role placed on his shoulders.
As the praise and stress continued to pile up Arnold developed distrust towards people surrounding him and began to treat them coldly without restraint.
But everyone simply took that attitude as dignified and, ironically, raised their evaluation of him even more which caused Arnold’s disgruntlement to grow.
Like Vincent, he was convinced people were praising the heir to the throne, not the person behind that title. Then, one day, an exception appeared.That was Maria.
Until that time, the only person who saw and treated him as someone to compete with was Lancelot. Lancelot’s age, social status, and abilities made him a worthy rival of the prince. With the two of them recognizing that fact, they acknowledged the fact by addressing each other informally. But even Lancelot did not show frustration whenever he lost at something, but rather complemented Arnold saying that the result was as expected of him.
Maria was different. Boldly declaring that she will never lose, she constantly and earnestly challenged him aiming to win. Her arrival made Arnold understand that Lancelot didn’t, and wouldn’t ever, face him seriously as a competitor which made him feel a bit down.
However, the pleasure from the arrival of a true rival, Maria, still overshadowed that sadness. He found competing with Maria every day enjoyable and that made the gloomy feelings fade away little by little.
The intensity of anger and rejection aimed at people around him was slowly channeled into a different direction. He also realized that his own prejudice warped the way he was looking at others. He finally grew aware of the childishness inside of him as well as the selfish fixation on how people treated him. It made him angry at himself. It also made him remember the lone girl that he might have hurt as a result.
His fiancee, Ariel Woodville Windhill.
He first met Ariel before their engagement ceremony, during the introductory meeting arranged because it was known at that point they would end up married. She made the worst possible impression on him. Even though it was their first meeting, she was too meddlesome and trying too hard to look good in other people’s eyes. And on top of it all, she was already acting like a queen even though they weren’t even engaged yet.
But the absolute worst thing was the tired expression she let slip in a single, unguarded, moment. It got him to realize immediately that everything she had shown on that day was merely a facade.
In that moment, Arnold identified Ariel as someone he could never accept and with that, he never met her again.
It was clear that Ariel was aware of his rejection, because even when she entered the Academy, she showed herself as little as allowed to a fiancee observing the bare minimum of etiquette and didn’t seem to concern herself with him anymore. Although there were times that they conversed, all she seemed to try to do in those situations was to irritate him even more.
Back then he thought it irrelevant. She might have grown beautifully since the last time he saw her, but her bearing was exactly like that of a high aristocrat. So just as he expected, that really made her a someone he would never accept.
However, now Arnold thought that he was wrong. It might be the contrast between the attitude she shows him and the people around her. The realization that Ariel, like him, might be playing a role too, one of a wife candidate capable of standing up to her husband.
And then there was that moment. When Arnold saw the shining, unguarded smile of Ariel without her masks.
A moment that planted a thought in Arnold’s mind. That he wanted that smile to be directed towards him. That those kinds of smiles should be pointed at him, her fiancé.
Although from Rion’s perspective Maria’s conquests looked to be proceeding smoothly, in reality, that was not the case causing her to grow increasingly impatient.
The main cause of that was the Crown Prince Arnold. By following the capturing guide, she was able to close the distance to him. And although she really did feel that was the case, for some reason there was a line that she was never able to cross. That was not referring to the intimacy of the relationship, but rather the essential prerequisite for making Arnold’s cancellation of his betrothal with Ariel a reality. For the plot to start heading in that direction, Arnold must voice the desire of breaking off the engagement on his own.
After hearing that from him, Maria was then supposed to reveal all the chastisements and harassment she received and the possibility of Ariel being the culprit behind it all. Once that happened, Arnold with the cooperation of their group would start looking for a sufficient evidence of her involvement.
That was how the story was supposed to develop, but Arnold was yet to speak about the cancellation of marriage at all. Without that, Maria was not able to reveal the chastisements. Doing that prematurely would lead to Ariel being strictly rebuked and stopping of further harassment, however, it would not end with the cancellation of prince’s betrothal.
Tattling was not something that protagonist was supposed to do. She was supposed to reveal everything due to not wanting Arnold to marry a woman like Ariel. The game setting was strangely fixated on this.
( I guess I should make that woman’s bad side be displayed more.)
Maria knew why the matter of Arnold’s betrothal wouldn’t develop in her desired direction. For some reason, Ariel didn’t seem to want to go anywhere near Arnold at all.
There should’ve been numerous scenes where Ariel was clinging to the prince too much causing his displeasure but, in this world, the two seldom meet and even when they did, they only exchanged the shallowest of greetings.
Like this, they wouldn’t start to get along but their relationship wouldn’t get worse either. That was not something Maria wanted.
(Did I fail? Did the plot derail because I indulged in chasing the hidden character?.)
Maria assumed Rion was the reason why the whole situation devolved into this mess. Not because she realized what Rion actually is, though. She was suspicious of the relationship between him and Ariel.
She investigated Rion, as he was a capture target, and she didn’t believe that the relationship of the two was a mere master-servant one. Even without detailed detective work, just by listening to the conversations between the two anyone would arrive at that conclusion.
Of course, nobody could guess that the two we’re just that thick-headed and fail to recognize their feelings for each other. The nobles discounted those obvious signs, blinded by the assumption that something like love would never happen between an aristocrat and her valet.
Commoners that happened to interact with them were not so oblivious. But they, knowing that such a thing was forbidden, would keep their mouths sealed.
Not that Maria cared about any of that.
What was occupying her mind was the question whether the love that came to fruition between the two, was caused by her.
From Maria’s perspective, even amongst the rare characters, Rion might be the one with the highest grade of difficulty. And because of that, it would be natural for a rival character to appear. She was thinking that it might be Ariel.
Although Ariel was supposed to be the rival character for Arnold’s route, Maria suspected that this might have changed to Rion’s route when she set her sight on him as a capture target. Of course, this was just Maria’s own speculation.
However, having the world’s protagonist think like that, was bound to bring Rion misfortune.
(In other words, capturing Rion and Arnold at the same time is impossible, huh?)
All Maria’s assumptions led to this conclusion. And arriving at such a conclusion prompted Maria to make a choice.
(As expected of rare characters. I still kinda want to conquer him, but all this screams failure. And since I don’t get to replay from the start…)
Maria chose Arnold. What was waiting at the end of that conquest was guaranteed queen’s crown. Of all the possibilities, that was still the best prize.
Maria didn’t believe that she would return to her world when the game completed. That being the case, she wouldn’t recklessly choose Rion, a completely unknown route with uncertain rewards.
(I don’t think the plot will completely go back to how it was supposed to go… But to get what I need… Yeah, I do feel sorry, but he needs to disappear…. And there’s a perfect event coming.)
The method Maria arrived at, in order to make Ariel return as the rival character for Arnold, was to lose Rion as a capture target. The only way to do that was to erase Rion, a hidden character, from the story.
Although she said that she felt sorry for him, Maria didn’t really feel a shred of guilt. After all, he was just a game character.
Not everyone in Maria’s circle viewed her in good light. There was at least one person harboring outright antipathy.
It was Charlotte Lanchester of House Fatillas.
The reason she was not publicly complaining about Maria was because she was observing and waiting for Arnold’s reaction. And because the Crown Prince was not doing anything, the antipathy only grew.
She vented that irritation at Lancelot who was trying to pull Maria towards himself.
「Honestly, what are you trying to achieve with this?」
「I don’t understand. Did she do something?」
「Do something……? Are you really fine with recent developments? She’s only getting closer to Arnold now, you know?」
There was no way for Charlotte to know, not that she would care for the reasons, that Maria’s current vigor was all due to her impatience with the prolonging conquest. She was simply displeased with the outcome.
「There’s nothing that can be done. Arnold is a good man, both in looks and disposition. Even I can see that.」
「Do you not favor Maria?」
Lancelot’s response was outside of Charlotte’s expectations.
「I do. But only a petty person would strike against his love rivals.」
「Does this mean that you will be fine if she ends up with somebody else.?」
「It would be troubling, but I do not believe it possible.」
Charlotte didn’t understand why Lancelot was so confident. Not just that. If she was to be asked, Maria was a lascivious woman who would use any and all means to attract men. Of course, as an aristocrat, she would never put such shameless thoughts into her mouth.
Neither could she figure out why Maria was allowed to do as she pleased and why did all those men fawn over her.
「Simple, really. Arnold is the Crown Prince, Maria does not belong next to him.」
「And all the other guys? Compared to me, they are nothing. So in the end, she’s bound to choose me.」
Lancelot was an idiot, Charlotte figured that out during her first meeting. Other people were not aware of that was because he was always next to Arnold. And that comparison would humble anyone.
「I was the one who made her who she is. She is always thanking me, saying that I am the reason why she is where she is at today.」
Charlotte thought this just made him a convenient stepping stone that Maria merely used to be able to enter the circle of aristocrats. In order to get closer to the Crown Prince Arnold.
「Gratitude and romantic feelings are two different things, you know.」
「…Charlotte, what is your problem exactly? It’s not like it matters to you what happens to our relationship, does it?」
Indeed, the relationship between Maria and Lancelot was not a concern of Charlotte. What she wanted was that someone, no matter who it was, tied Maria down, so she didn’t intrude in their circle any longer.
「Are you aware that many people look at her actions unfavorably?」
Charlotte was too indirect, her question brought unexpected result.
「Yes, I did hear the dark rumors.」
「All this is the work of that little, impertinent Windhill witch, isn’t it?」
「Ariel. She’s so unhappy about Maria getting close to Arnold that she’s stirring trouble in the background.」
「She is his fiancee after all. Did you expect any different?」
「Charlotte, are you trying to defend that woman?」
「Rather than defending her, I find it strange that prince Arnold appears to be close to other women while being engaged.」
「That’s… Hard to argue against, but… These kinds of malicious tactics that woman employs, they just don’t sit well with me.」
「I am of the same opinion.」
「That little girl doesn’t fit Arnold at all. I want to expose her misdeeds and somehow put the betrothal of Ariel and Arnold to an end.」
「You want to cancel their engagement?」
Charlotte was surprised that Lancelot would go as far as this. This was interfering with the betrothal of the crown prince. That meant meddling with serious politics and country governance. Even if he was an heir of a marquess house, this was not something a student should poke his fingers into.
「Isn’t that obvious? Since she is marrying Arnold, she would be our queen. Like hell, I would let someone who commits misdeeds in the shadows take the crown.」
「That’s right… You’re correct. However, can you really achieve that?」
「If her malicious deeds become publicly known, even his majesty, the King, can’t ignore that. It would be a problem to have a queen that’s scorned by all nobility.」
「But for that, we must obtain evidence first. I can roughly see the outline of the matter, but concrete proof eludes my grasp. Won’t Charlotte cooperate with me in this? You are a lady, there are pieces of information that only you can get.」
「…So be it. I will lend you a hand.」
「I’m counting on you.」
This world was harsh on antagonists. Even if they were innocent, it would try to persecute them if that was their role.
On the other hand, the world was gentle to protagonists. Even if they committed misdeeds on the way to their goal, they would be protected by it. This was that kind of world.
And Rion was trying to oppose it, no matter how reckless it might seem.
HnM’s TL Corner!
There goes our update, It was supposed to be updated yesterday but I fell asleep, sorry bout that. The next chapter will be another event divided into two parts and will be released together as well. As for the releasing schedule, it will be on 12:00 pm UTC every sunday.
We’ll try to keep up with the schedule.
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