Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi wo Shite:
“A Weapon Obtained.”
Having Ariel and Vincent get closer to commoner students brought as much benefits to Rion as it did to them.
Any non-noble trying to enroll in the Academy had to undergo a strict examination. Its main purpose was to test whether that person would have any future and be an asset to the Kingdom in the arena of politics so its difficulty was no laughing matter.
Candidates who were able to overcome such a hurdle, even though they were excellent scholars, wouldn’t be treated on par with the aristocrats. They would never reach the top of the Academy rankings as the subjects like fencing and magic were completely removed from their curriculum while their grades weren’t announced separately. All this was arranged so that the prestige of young nobles was protected.
Regardless of all this, they surely were good at studying. Possibly even better than what Rion was capable of.
There was no way that Rion would ever refuse relying on them. In fact, he asked them to become Vincent’s tutors of his own accord.
Those students gladly took upon the offer. In part, so they could get closer to a marquess house, but mostly to get closer to Ariel.c
「Redistribution of wealth? What on earth is that?」
One of the male students invoked this concept while they were learning economics. It was Vincent’s first time hearing that idea.
「As things in the kingdom stand now the rich get richer all the time and the poor are constantly worse off. This trend is obviously bad.」
「I concur. But could you elaborate on the subject?」
「The people that increase their wealth are aristocrats and major merchant groups.」
The way that student spoke carried a hint of criticism. Vincent, as a relative of a marquess, stood at the apex of the wealthy. This made him feel quite awkward.
「The wealth of the less privileged citizens is being sucked dry by those at the top. If this is to continue unchecked, the general populace is going to wither away and the flow of money will stop. That, in turn, will lead to demise of the rich.」
Although the explanation was rather exaggerated, it made the concept easier to understand for Vincent.
「And that in turn will make the King lose the support of his subject and lead to the disintegration of the crown.」
This statement, as expected, was not something that Vincent could ignore.
「Ah, apologies lord. I got carried away with my projections. What I was trying to get across is that health of the royal treasury depends on the financial health of its subjects. If the general populace suffers too much, the country will eventually suffer too and start to stagnate.」
「…You are right, I guess. It’s hard to do anything when no one is capable of paying tax to finance the tasks.」
「That is so. This is where redistribution of wealth comes into play. If all of the kingdom’s wealth was to be split fairly between its subjects the disparity in life circumstances would be erased and everyone’s livelihood would become stable. That would increase overall tax yield and help the treasury.」
「Pretty theory. Also utterly wrong.」
Another student raised a dissenting voice while Vincent was starting to show the signs of agreement.
「There is a major flaw in that line of thinking.」
「What did you say? Stop manufacturing problems where there are none! I dare you to prove me wrong!」
The first student would not put up with being told his presentation was wrong and started to raise his voice.
「You said redistributing wealth is “fair”. How can you even call it that?」
The dissenting student replied calmly without faltering. It showed that he had that much confidence in his thoughts.
「What do you mean?」
「This world is not ideal, there are people that work hard and people who do not. Isn’t it fair for the former to accumulate more wealth than the latter?」
「Your theory ignores the effort of an individual. Distributing reward while ignoring effort will impact the motivation of the hard-working people and they will be discouraged from doing so much work. Drop of productivity will depress the tax yield.」
「All contributions can be individually assessed.」
「Won’t that give birth to disparity of wealth?」
「Would you rather keep things as they are then?!」
The student on the losing side of the argument snapped. The other party was hindering him from being acknowledged by Vincent and that was making him angry.
「I never said that. I do think that this country should be changed. However, the problems that need addressing are more fundamental than wealth disparity.」
「…What do you consider more important then?」
「The voice of the populace does not reach the halls of power. Right now the politics is a privilege for the aristocracy.」
「Obviously. Isn’t that why we are studying like this?」
「Will that help any of us have an impact on the political arena?」
「That…. Depends on perseverance.」
「Stop deluding yourself! Even you should know it’s futile regardless of how hard you work.」
「What else can we do!?」
「Even this Academy has fundamental problems! There are so many things that should be fixed!」
Like this, the calm conversations of the students turned rather heated. That being the case, the dispute wouldn’t die down anytime soon. It turned into a passionate debate that had little left to do with studying.
「My next….. Hmm….. The next exam is…」
Vincent’s muttering had been ignored in all this.
Even though there was an occasional detour, the student’s tutelage enthusiastically continued just like this. Thanks to this, Rion’s role changed from the one doing the teaching to the one being taught. This was something great for him, as preparing to teach Vincent was a time-consuming process.
The time freed by this was in turn invested by Rion into information gathering.
「That’s quite troublesome. Doesn’t she even notice that the Crown Prince dislikes her?」
「That woman is quite insensitive.」
「You’re right. And that will just not do, it incurs the wrath of so many people.」
「Like Lady Ariel, right? It’s completely understandable, they are betrothed after all.」
「I see you understand very well.」
「…Please leave it to me. I will make sure to point out all her wrongs.」
「I see. I am certain that will make many people happy.」
「Yes. Please look forward to that. 」
Hiding in the shadow of the school building, Rion was taught about the scariness of women from this conversation. The ones talking were Charlotte and a student that Rion didn’t personally know. That female student was splendidly manipulated by Charlotte.
The young aristocrat was quite clever. Never actually saying the name of Ariel by herself, but still able to implant the impression that Ariel personally desired the chastisements of Maria.
Lady Charlotte he exchanged words with, the friendly and kindhearted lady, was actually capable of things like this. Rion felt like he was forcefully reminded of the threat of a woman that went mad for love.
That aside, he caught her in the act. What he should do now was to record the contents of the conversation, confirm the identity of the woman, and find out what she would do to Maria.
Rion had no intention of denouncing Charlotte outright. Even if he did that and was able to put a stop to her actions, any future chastisements of Maria would still be linked to Ariel.
Rion was determined to record all the things that Charlotte did and the things she was about to do. Even if she denied involvement, people would have to reconcile the overwhelming detail of the evidence he collected.
Today, again, he was able to add a record to the list. Surely that would pile up in the future.
Whatever came out of this, Rion felt that he was able to obtain a weapon that could protect Ariel.
But not just limited to that, the range for Rion’s information gathering activity extended beyond the Academy. That was also due to the newly freed time he used to spend teaching Vincent.
Rion was currently at the Windhill mansion. There was a side entrance at the back of the complex he was not aware of until now. The truth is he wanted to investigate Julia’s place directly, but that would lead to unnecessary risk. In the end, if he was caught spying, any chance of obtaining useful information would be lost.
What he was looking for was not necessarily an important piece of information, even gathering a larger number of shallow rumors would suffice. From that, after figuring out what he should be looking for, he could consider digging deeper.
And finally, he struck gold. It looked like Rion’s intuition was quite right because he was able to find confirmation of his suspicions.
「The next meeting will be in three days.」
The man who came out of the back entrance was discussing the next time of his next visit. That man was the leader of the vassal families of the House Windhill, Viscount Austin. The person he was informing was the valet of Erwin, Will Dirk. After a pause for thought, he added…
「But I guess it would be best if I didn’t come here too often.」
「Lord Marquess doesn’t really come to this place anymore and you have avoided other employees thus far. I fail to see any risks?」
「If I continue to avoid other staff so much, suspicions are bound to rise.」
「About how very… Successful… Is your relationship with Julia?」
Rion, hearing this phrase, broke into an open, wide smile.
It solidified his circumstantial evidence. They were calling an official concubine of a marquess, a person superior in rank to them, without honorifics and the way Will joked implied that they had a mature relationship. That relationship obviously progressed to the point where such a thing was fine.
「Fool. If this comes out, then there will be serious consequences. For all of us.」
「Calm down. Nobody will know.」
The villainous ways of the viscount brought another smile from Rion. It felt more comfortable taking on the dastardly enemies than the virtuous ones. Still, Rion wouldn’t hesitate either way, even when facing somebody on the side of the good.
「….What nerve. What do you think will happen to the connection between us if you’re wrong?」
「Connection? If that happens, I don’t know you. That’s the last thing I care about…」
Will paused for a second.
「…And as for the woman, no pity. She’s useful, but there are no feelings involved. 」
Very apt statement. If he could, Rion would’ve said those words to Will and Viscount Austin.
「I am certain she feels the same. If we’re talking ambition, then hers is greater.」
「I don’t think her plans will go very well.」
「That depends on how she goes about it. Fortunately, the current heir is really foolish. There are many openings to exploit」
「The Lord dotes on Vincent-sama a lot. There’s no way he’ll remove him from succession.」
「No matter what the Marquess Windhill thinks, Erwin is the best heir. As long as we can spread that sentiment around, things will go fine. Actually, everything is heading in that direction already.」
「…But even so, nothing is for certain.」
Even if they had some influence, they had no way to force their demands. Just like the royal family. That’s how things looked like from Will’s perspective. Rion was currently spying on them in fear of that influence, though.
「Well, I don’t care even if the plan fails. She want’s it, not me.」
「You are your own…, No, go back now. There’s no telling if someone is watching us.」
In actuality, there was indeed someone looking at them right then – Rion. It was too late for Will to say such things. They had already divulged plenty of information.
「You’re right. Well then, next time.」
Viscount Austin left the back entrance. Will, after seeing him off, went back inside. The only person left in that place was Rion hidden nearby.
(Very intriguing conversation. It lets one feel the complexity of human relationships.)
He was not referring to the relationship between Julia and Austin but rather the relationship between Austin and Will, along with the probable unexpected relationship between Erwin and the viscount. He was able to draw plenty of conclusions from the content of that conversation.
Although he had drawn a certain line when it came to Will, one could feel that Austin treated the servant with a certain familiarity. On the other hand, Will’s attitude towards the viscount was unrestrained. Rion pondered what could this mean and an answer surfaced immediately. What he needed now was influential backing, but such a thing couldn’t be found in the manor.
(It would’ve been interesting if this world actually had DNA tests.)
Rion thought of this jest based on his knowledge of the otherworld. Unfortunately, he was the only person that could find it amusing.
And so Rion, once again obtained a weapon, this one to protect Vincent.
Rion was again conducting information gathering but of a different kind than what he did earlier. He was not looking for weapons, he was trying to verify some assumptions.
Waiting behind the shadow of the school building, he saw a female student walking towards him. The light of the sun shone on her glossy black hair, it was Maria. It seemed that she hadn’t noticed Rion.
Rion was also not looking directly at her but was mentally calculating the distance she had left to travel.
She was thirty steps away from the target location…, twenty steps……, ten….., nine…., eight….., seven…….
Lancelot had called upon Maria. Rion could only smack his lips in regret.
Maria turned around and headed towards the noble with happy strides, waving her hands. Although that might seem to be adorable, it was excessively irritating to Rion.
Another attempt failed. After Maria left, a stray dog began walking towards the spot Maria was originally supposed to pass by. It was a stray, a rare sight in this world.
Suddenly the animal disappeared from sight, an event followed by a pained yelp.
There was a huge and deep hole in the ground at the spot the stray dog just walked on. Within that hole, the stray dog, pierced by numerous stakes, laid dead.
(Another failure. This one will be quite hard to cover up.)
Just thinking of the cleanup made him break into a sigh. But even so, there was no way he can leave that as is, he began the work while being mindful of his surroundings.
Then, on yet another day.
Rion was looking at the third floor of a certain school building. Although it seemed as if there was no one behind the windows, looking carefully, there were several heads of female students peeking from behind the frame.
The thing those girls were currently looking at, was Maria gathering her belongings scattered on the ground underneath while muttering complaints.
It was a spectacle that he had seen before. Someone had probably thrown her bag out of the window again. The culprits were most likely the girls peeking through the window on the third floor.
But their plan didn’t end with just that bit of harassment. One could see the shape of a bucket on the window ledge.
It was obviously heavy as it took two female students to pick it up. It was because the bucket was filled with water. The girls then let it go out of their hands, throwing it through the window. Of course, obeying gravity, the bucket fell to the ground.
At that moment, Rion muttered…
The bucket was falling directly above Maria. However, it still failed to hit her. As Rion was muttering the spell a gust of wind had blown. It caused one of the notes on the ground to fly away at speed. Maria hurriedly pursued the sheet of paper.
The bucket fell behind her with a loud crashing sound.
Maria, surprised by such noise turned her head back and glanced towards the deformed bucket half-buried in the ground.
「….How cruel. Wouldn’t this hurt if this hit someone?」
The water inside the bucket was completely frozen. If such a thing hit someone’s head, the outcome would be serious indeed.
As Maria left the place while still muttering her complaints, the ice inside the bucket melted and sank into the ground. At this time, the female students from the third floor decided to head down and heckle Maria whom they expected to be soaking wet. But the only thing that remained on site was the bucket with a small amount of water.
Another failure. However, Rion didn’t feel down. Because this result is within his expectations. As he predicted, it would be impossible to kill the protagonist Maria.
There were numerous amount of times when Maria was soaked by water in situations like this. However, whenever Rion tried to freeze the water it would never hit her successfully. It was the same when he tried pitfalls. She stopped before them many times, always with seemingly important reasons, always being saved by chance events.
Although it was called chance, it was actually the will of the world protecting Maria.
His last resort. Rion was still not able to obtain a weapon that would make it possible.
Next chapter would be the royal academy ball.