Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi Wo Shite :
“The Shocking Truth”
The relationship between Ariel and Arnold improved rapidly and they became closer together. At the moment, it turned into a situation in which they were always moving as a couple.
Rion was oblivious as to what caused it, but he has no plans to investigate the reason. After all, it was a situation he desired. No matter how much it pained him.
But even so, that didn’t mean that Rion would stop his other projects. He still didn’t know what might happen during their remaining school days or how Ariel’s greatest and worst event might unfold. The scene of her being denounced for Maria’s harassment was still looming far in the future.
Rion had too many things to do to prepare for that day. One of them was to find evidence supporting Ariel’s innocence. It was an unmistakable fact that she was not the one behind the chastisement campaign. However, it was also a fact that Maria was on the receiving end of one.
The rumors still said that his lady was the instigator, so Rion had to gather evidence to disprove them. In due course, he would naturally end up discovering who was really behind all that.
「Should we… Do this? Really? Is this fine?」
「I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself. I want you too much.」
「Ah… Liar. You only say what I want to hear. But I… I wanted you too.」
In one of the unoccupied dorm rooms, Rion was embracing a naked woman on the bed. Since he was getting impatient with the lack of progress and limitations of his investigations, he decided for a cold-hearted approach. It could be said that he was getting so desperate that he didn’t mind making Ariel angry anymore, but Rion would not admit that.
His chosen target was one of the House Fatillas maids – Mila, one of Charlotte’s handmaidens.
Until now no matter how he investigated Maria’s harassment he couldn’t get the true picture. Even after giving up on stealth and actually making contact with the perpetrators all he got from them was that even they were convinced that the instructions came from Ariel.
He didn’t think that they were acting. After all, they even mistook his approach as a new set of instructions from his lady.
He tried telling them that Ariel never ordered such a thing but they just kept repeating that “they know” with a strangely convinced expression. Apparently they only took it as an command to keep their mouths shut.
He tried repeating the same process with others, but even if Ariel’s name didn’t surface, they always said that they were instructed by a noble lady from a marquess house.
At that point, he thought he had hit the limits of his investigation, but suddenly he had an epiphany. There was more than one noble lady that matched that description.
However, he couldn’t figure out her motive. Charlotte was together with Maria from the early stages. He never thought that she would do something so malicious as arranging harassment behind Lancelot’s back while seeing he was actively involved in trying to prevent it.
And after their conversation in the ruined castle, he had an impression that she was a relatively friendly person he wouldn’t have trouble getting along with, a polar opposite of devious schemer.
However, since Ariel clearly wasn’t the culprit, he had no choice but to doubt Charlotte. Therefore he investigated her conduct and found indications that she indeed did not think well of Maria.
However, that was as much as he could find out with usual means. He still couldn’t tell whether she really incited the harassment or not.
So he needed to somehow get closer. That being the case, obvious targets would be people closest to Charlotte. Her maids. In the end, Rion picked Mila because she was the one who seemed to be attracted to him the most. And so, after arranging an opportunity for them to be in a secluded room together, they effortlessly ended up like this.
「…The others might get really angry when they find out. Let’s keep this a secret between us?」
「Mhm, I know. You would be in big trouble with your precious lady if she found out.」
「It’s not really her… But thinking about it now, wouldn’t Charlotte-sama mind her handmaiden having an affair?」
「She… Would be furious. Obviously.」
「Even more so knowing that I’m a commoner, right?」
「Eh? What do you mean?」
「Doesn’t Charlotte-sama dislike commoners?」
「Where did you hear that from?」
「I might be mistaken. I just heard she hates that female student called Maria.」
「Oh, her. Certainly. But that has nothing to do with her status.」
「That woman gets overly familiar with the Crown Prince. Something my lady desires for herself.」
The maid’s face suddenly stiffened and she looked aghast at what she said. For a moment she forgot herself and secrets slipped splendidly through her lips. Stifling a nauseated laugh Rion replied looking serious.
「Don’t worry, I will keep everything you said a secret between us.」
「But… And you don’t have to answer this, I can’t help but wonder whether that makes her hate Ariel-sama too.」
「I don’t think so? After all, Prince Arnold and Lady Ariel were betrothed long before my lady noticed her feelings.」
「Wouldn’t becoming aware of her feelings give rise to resentment?」
「That would be expected, wouldn’t it? In the past, that might have been the case. But now I doubt it.」
「Because back then that relationship didn’t seem to be harmonious and currently they really do look like they will get married.」
「They do. So you think your lady was anticipating that the prince would lose his fiancee in the past?」
「Sadly, this is not something I can tell you.」
This was a woman’s way of confirming a delicate subject, something Rion heard many times before. So it was clear that Charlotte desired the dissolution of Ariel and Arnold’s engagement. Normally one wouldn’t see this as a motive for organizing harassment of Maria, but he was different.
He was aware of the upcoming bad event looming over Ariel.
(So that event had a mastermind? I don’t know what’s what anymore.)
The complicated web of relationships was starting to confuse him, but there was no mistake that he was able to obtain a huge lead. Compared to his previous results this was huge progress.
「It’s nearly time for us, what would you like to do?」
「What do you mean?」
「Wouldn’t it be a shame to end with just this? You see I was thinking that it’s pretty common for a maid to suffer from unexpected delays while cleaning… How about it?」
「…..You’re right. And that’s fine with me.」
Rion was usually oblivious to inner workings of a woman’s heart but that didn’t stop them from falling head over heels for him when they saw his attentiveness to small details like that. He did know though that thing might end up getting troublesome in the future if he didn’t follow up on this encounter. His plentiful experience told him that.
At the same time, Rion was trying to obtain evidence, there was another person trying to solidify the current state of things. Although it could be said that the two of them had at least one common goal, they did not go hand-in-hand to reach it. At the very least, one would not extend his hand to the other.
There were numerous, vibrant trees around the scene of this event. It was a courtyard, but one so vast it wouldn’t be a stretch to call it a forest. In one of its corners, in stark contrast to the size of the place, a small, elegant party was being held.
Apart from the host, there were four invited guests. It was an extremely private occasion. However, even that being the case there could be many servants seen hovering around.
After all, this place was one of the courtyards of the royal castle. The host was the crown prince Arnold himself. But there were more reasons than just this for the presence of so much staff full of vigor.
Firstly, it might be a private one but this was the first time Arnold held a party on his own. There was a worry that he was not only bad at dealing with crowds but also socially inept, therefore the presence of servants was by all means necessary to make this party a success so that it would lead to another one in the future.
Secondly, the invited guests were important. The prince’s fiancé Ariel and her brother Vincent, and future marquesses Lancelot and Charlotte were gathered. Obviously, Ariel was to be their future queen. Being able to meet the queen candidate for the first time, it was normal for the servants to be in high spirits. The queen, as the most important woman in the realm, was responsible for organizing all the important social occasions and events. If they managed to show their good qualities here, they might be assigned to better roles in the future.
Maria was also taking part, by the way, but to the servants, her existence was irrelevant.
Arnold decided to hold this party to firmly and early establish Ariel as his future wife in the minds of the castle denizens.
And that was indeed a huge success.
It was a result of the attitude that Ariel took towards the servants, not high-handed and oppressive, but also not looking to curry their favor. Their impression of her was that although she was somewhat strict, she was also remarkably beautiful.
If they were to be judged purely by the appearance, Maria would have the upper hand but Ariel had something that her rival lacked.
It was an aura of majesty. Although she was just a child, there was something in Ariel that made her look dignified. That touch of class, even in the presence of Maria, made people think that Ariel would indeed be a fitting queen.
Just by looking at Arnold and Ariel setting beside each other, the servants could already see the promise of the kingdom flourishing in their reign.
Rion, who was looking at that spectacle from afar, was…
(This is the first time I’ve seen them like this, they really suit each other.)
…Having the same impression as the other servants.
Rion was also present in the palace. But of course, he was in his role of a valet and only allowed to wait in an area separate from the main venue. This was arranged by the Crown Prince in order to show who was really suited to be at Ariel’s side, but Rion had no way of knowing that.
Besides, seeing the two sitting beside each other was something to be delighted about to him. It wasn’t that he pretended to be tough, he just always acted towards obtaining Ariel’s happiness.
Somehow, his efforts had borne fruit. The only thing he could do now was to protect this situation. So he adjusted his behavior in preparation for that.
Turning his gaze towards other people in the waiting area made it meet with eyes of another person. It was because Mila, Charlotte’s handmaiden, was always looking at Rion lately.
Their affair was still continuing. It was something Mila openly desired and Rion didn’t want to stop. He felt that there was still information that could be obtained from her, he also had the contrasting feeling that being with her let him forget about other things for a moment.
Because their gazes met, Mila cheerfully approached Rion. She wanted to flaunt her relationship with Rion to others. Especially to the two other maids of Charlotte – Margarette and Sylvia, potentially dangerous existences.
Actually, those two already had some suspicions and were looking at Mila with severe glares.
「I agree. With so many servants there is hardly anything for us to do.」
「They suit each other, don’t they?」
「You’re right. They do.」
「Do you really think so?」
「Of course. Why wouldn’t I?」
「I wonder. You’re not jealous at all?」
It was Mila who was actually jealous while saying these things. She was just trying to probe Rion’s feelings.
「I feel nothing of the sort. All I desire is happiness for my lord and lady.」
「What about your own happiness?」
「Not something I think much about.」
Rion had no leeway to worry about trivial things like that. There were still so many things for him to do. Just making Ariel and Vincent graduate without any incident made his hands full.
「I see… But you know, looking at those two makes me long after my own happy ending.」
「Does it? I guess it would be nice to get one.」
Rion at that moment wasn’t in his woman-pleasing mindset and his answer was really insensitive.
「….Are you doing this on purpose?」
「You are. You really, really are.」
It’s only natural for Mila to think this way. The usual Rion she knew was a gentleman who would often shower her with expressions of love.
「What are you talking about?」
「A woman is telling you that she wants to be happy! Shouldn’t you be saying “I will make you happy” to that?!」
「Eh?! Why would I do that?」
「Why?! You ask why!?」
「I’m sorry, please calm down. I am still a minor, marriage is impossible for me, so it was just not on my mind at all.」
「You will grow up. What then?」
「…That’s still some time away. Isn’t it a bit early for that sort of a commitment?」
「Even if I said I need it?」
Although he knew that Mila had an assertive personality, Rion didn’t think that it would be to this extent. This would be reaping what he sowed because he couldn’t receive her feelings.
「…This might sound like an excuse, but…」
「You will not find what you desire with me.」
「And how is that not an excuse?」
「It is not…」
Although Rion was a bit worried about the possible consequences, he decided to be honest with her.
「I will explain properly, but only if swear to keep this a secret.」
「…Alright, if you say so.」
Seeing his serious expression Mila figured that Rion wasn’t trying to fool her.
Hearing her agree, Rion checked his surroundings to confirm that there was nobody close by, then he took off his eye patch.
Mila’s eyes opened wide. That reaction of hers confirmed that she saw what he wanted and he immediately put his eye-patch back on.
「Do you understand now?」
「Yes… I do… Ah, sorry…」
「No need to apologize, your reaction is nothing new. I am used to that by now.」
「…I’m really sorry.」
「It is fine. Really. This is how things were from… Well, from the very beginning.」
「What about your lords?」
「They know. And despite that, they still treated me as a normal person. Lord Vincent and Lady Ariel are very special to me.」
It was now clear to Mila that she was not.
「Please do not tell anyone. If you break your promise and I hear rumors putting my lord and lady at harm, I will never forgive you.」
As Rion said this, Mila felt a ruthless aura that she had never experienced before from him. Now, knowing about the heterochromatic eyes, she saw Rion like in the legend – a bearer of misfortune.
「Oh, to be honest, I personally wouldn’t really mind that.」
A voice of a third party entered the ears of the frightened maid.
「Vincent-sama? What brings you here? Is there something that requires my assistance?」
With Vincent entering the conversation Rion’s aura had once again returned to normal.
「Well, in a way I guess… She is rather angry you know.」
「And now that she is in that kind of mood… People around… Well, is it enough to say even Prince Arnold is scared?」
「EH!? Ah! No! Nothing happened! The maid is… A coincidence! She’s here by coincidence!」
「Y-Yes, that’s right! I was merely…」
Rion denied any relationship to Mila in panic and she supported him in that. However, Vincent merely shook his head at that.
From this Rion was able to deduce that Ariel was angry about a different thing.
「…Why is it then?」
「You took your eye-patch off just now, right? In front of the maid.」
「For Ariel that secret turned into something special only three of us know of.」
「But sir, there are many other people that know already. 」
At the very least, all of the servants of House Windhill were aware of his heterochromatic eyes.
「You should know better than expect that this will help you in any way. As for you girl, you should probably get out of here right about now.」
「Keep your lips sealed. Even if Rion forgives you for spreading tales, I don’t expect my sister to do so.」
「…I understand, lord. I will say nothing.」
Although Mila didn’t personally witness Ariel’s scary side, from the conduct of Vincent and Rion she was able to recognize that the aristocrat was someone not to be angered.
After that, not wanting to be entangled in such circumstances any longer, she hurriedly left the place.
「What awaits me, sir?」
「The usual, perhaps? A whipping would be nostalgic in a way. Even if she’s serious at it.」
「…. I knew it.」
Rion knelt dejected on the spot. Vincent could only stare at that servant of his with complex feelings without saying anything. In reality, Ariel was extremely angry at Rion for getting along with that maid. Knowing that Ariel was jealous, he felt a bit melancholic at not being able to convey that to Rion himself.
A little while before the ruckus that Rion caused. There was a couple peeking at the party held in the courtyard. It was Arnold’s parents, the rulers of the Gran Flamm kingdom.
Even to the king and the queen, this party was very intriguing. They were surprised that Arnold, who had never been that enthusiastic about his marriage before, personally invited Ariel to that kind of an event.
Although they actually wanted to join, but expecting that their participation would make the party a bigger issue than necessary, they refused their son’s invitation and decided to stealthily observe like this.
「Mhm, Lady Ariel has indeed grown beautifully. Her harshness looks to be gone and what remains is a distinct aura of dignity. That change is something unusual coming from a child.」
「It is as you say my lord husband, she looks like the right person to stand next to the future king.」
「Indeed. We were a little worried before, but it seems that things are going in the right direction now.」
「You are absolutely right, majesty.」
If the next king, Arnold, didn’t get along with his wife, depending on the severity of the situation it might turn into a political issue. There were many people ready to make use of the fact that the king didn’t favor his queen.
Arnold’s parents were worried about that at first, but now it seemed that their worries are unnecessary.
It was at that moment. From the separate area for visiting staff came raised voices of people causing a ruckus. It seemed to be a dispute between a valet and a maid. Having a public spat like that showed that the two lacked discipline, but before long, the royal couple saw someone else entering the scene. It was Vincent.
「Looks like the eldest child of House Windhill. He is said to be lacking, his valet obviously is.」
But even so, after seeing the approaching Vincent, the disputing servants separated from one another. With that settled, the eyes of the king returned to the party but in the process, he caught sight of the trembling shoulders of his queen.
「What happened!? Are you not feeling well!?」
「…O-Our chil… survived…..」
The queen whispered with a shaking voice.
「What!? D-Don’t tell me…!?」
The king had an idea what this might have been about. He tried to find out more, but the queen having fainted was unable to reply.
From this day on, for a short time, the royal capital would be buzzing with rumors.
It seemed that the princess, that had been missing for years, resurfaced in the Academy. Her name was Maria Theodore.
The world was heading towards the goal set by the story. All to prepare the final event that loomed over the Academy.
Note: Better thank the chief editor, Peter for editing this in a day straight.