Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi Wo Shite :
“Event : The Academy Ball.”
Inside the Academy grounds, servants of the nobles could be seen hurrying about busily. It was all in preparation for the grand ball that was to be held later today. The female students in particular, with the gala event looming large in front of them, have fully devoted themselves to getting ready. That was the main reason why their staff was busy.
Although, the Academy Ball was being held under the pretext of familiarizing students with the refined ways of aristocrats, In fact, it was much closer to a festival and was the grandest event on the Academy calendar.
That was also the same in the game. It was a huge turning point in the plot as the protagonist attempted to conquer her capture target.
Crown Prince Arnold, unusually for him unaccompanied and currently hidden in the shadow of the dorm building didn’t, of course, know that. He thought of the ball as just a festival event in the Academy. However, he was also planning on making it into a turning point.
Right now he was searching for a person essential for that purpose and he was considerably bothered by being unable to spot him. All the female students secluded themselves in their changing rooms to put on ball-gowns and makeup that they prepared beforehand just for the sake of this day. The Crown Prince was aware of that, so he was searching for the valet whose face he usually couldn’t stand the sight of, but even that servant was nowhere to be found.
This misunderstanding was really unlike Arnold. The preparations involving the dress and the cosmetics were obviously the job of the maids. In no case would the help of a valet be required. It was also obvious that the valet in question would be with his lord, assisting in his dressing room. But even if the prince was thinking straight, he didn’t remember the faces of Ariel’s handmaidens either. Therefore it would be quite impossible for him to find them before the ball started.
When he finally started considering giving up due to an expectation that continuing his search would eat too much of the remaining time, he happened to hear female voices.
「What kind of face is that woman making right now, I wonder?」
「Deathly pale? Crying, possibly?」
「Would she cry, really? No matter what is done to her, we can’t wipe that pesky smirk from her face.」
「You’re right. She thinks us fools and herself different from all the other women. Expecting many handsome men to lend her a helping hand.」
「….Oh, did she say such a thing?」
「No. But I feel that’s what she really thinks.」
「I think I agree. Indeed, she does carry this foul air around herself.」
「I know, right?」
Arnold was dumbfounded, or perhaps unsettled would be the better word, by being faced with the terror of a woman’s dark side that one wouldn’t normally witness straight up.
However, he also immediately realized the meaning behind the words of those students. They have done something horrible to someone to the point that it would make them cry.
As for who that someone could be. The answer came to him immediately.
Suddenly hearing a voice coming from behind him caused Arnold’s shoulders to tremble from surprise. If a female student saw him hiding in the shadows by the changing rooms, there was no telling what horrible misunderstandings might that give birth to.
He figured that in that case he should just clear up any confusion from the start, or perhaps just boldly state his intentions but it was already too late for that.
Although it still didn’t really make it fine to be discovered like this, the situation was better than being found out by a female student he had never spoken to before.
Arnold turned around and spoke looking a bit relieved.
「…Why are you like this?」
What the Crown Prince saw was Maria sticking part of her body out of a small window. Her shoulders and arm were naked and at a glance, she did not seem to be wearing anything at all.
「Ah… I was trying to change into my dress… But the dress now…」
Suddenly her face turned gloomy. Just by seeing that, Arnold was able to deduce the rest. She was clearly the subject of the conversation from just before.
「Damaged beyond repair?」
The prince heard the rumors about chastisements that Maria was subjected to as well. It was a subject frequently raised by Lancelot. However because every time Ariel was offered as the mastermind, Arnold never took that information seriously.
But nevertheless, he knew that the chastisements were a fact. One he would, frankly, be happier not knowing about.
Maria prompted timidly as Arnold was looking at his feet feeling down.
「….What is it?」
「Is that perhaps for me?」
「The box Arnold-sama is holding, there’s a dress in it, right?」
「Y-Yeah… That’s true, but…」
Arnold was currently holding a huge box by his side. It did indeed contain a dress. The reason Maria knew that….
It was also a part of the event. In the game, the prince, worrying that Maria couldn’t afford a new dress, had one prepared for her so that she would not lose face during the ball. It was something that was supposed to boost the relationship between the protagonist and Arnold significantly.
「I’m happy. For Arnold-sama to go to such lengths for me…」
Maria, going by her game knowledge, was clearly convinced that the dress was for her.
「Ah, no, this is..」
「Please go around the building. There’s a side entrance there.」
Saying this, Maria immediately disappeared inside the window. Arnold was left dumbfounded looking for a way out of the situation but…
「But this is…. Haa….., I guess there’s no choice…」
Muttering that, he decided to go towards the entrance to the dressing rooms where Maria was waiting.
A long time had passed since the beginning of the ball was announced. But the essential leading character was nowhere to be found.
It was the Crown Prince of the kingdom, who together with his fiancée should naturally perform the first dance in the master of the ceremonies mind.
However, even though the event commenced, Arnold was yet to appear. What’s more, his presumed partner, Ariel, had already arrived at the assembly hall a long time ago. Nobody meant her ill, but people present had a sudden premonition of trouble.
And that premonition had materialized.
Arnold had finally appeared in the hall, but at his side was Maria wearing a dress that was clearly arranged for her.
The prince was dressed in a black, military-style outfit with several prominent red accents typical for the royal family, Maria was wearing a brilliant white ball gown. Together the two looked as if they stepped out of a painting. The sight was so beautiful that it took everyone’s breath away. Which was not unexpected. It was the protagonist together with her capture target after all. There was no way they would be ill-matched.
As the two entered, the music in the hall started naturally. Being lightly pulled by Maria, slightly embarrassed-looking Arnold stepped forward towards the center. Although he was, in fact, actually bewildered, from the perspective of the surroundings, he was just being bashful.
Like this, the first dance, lead by Arnold and Maria was under way and the ball had started properly. Their performance on the floor elicited spontaneous sighs from the hall. Particularly from people watching it from the corners of the room.
In the corner of the room where Ariel was seated, someone sighed while other attendees there were all holding their breath. Everyone here was full of sympathy for her and anger at Maria for stealing the first dance. Many students here had mixed thoughts like this, but none of them was able to talk to Ariel about this.
There were only two people in existence who could speak with Ariel in such a situation. Because one of them didn’t have the social position to participate in the ball, the job fell to the other one present.
「….Hmm, now that I think about it, it has been a while. Shall we dance?」
Vincent’s words took Ariel by surprise splendidly.
「It has been a while since I danced with my sister and I was thinking it would be nice to do so again.」
「That is true. But will onii-sama really be alright?」
「I… Don’t know.」
Although Vincent was able to overcome so many things purely with his hard work, there were things towards which he had no talent whatsoever and where no amount of hard work would help.
One of those was dancing. He was so poor at it that Ariel changed her dancing partner to Rion permanently.
「It will be fine. A dance here would be a good practice for onii-sama after all.」
「I see. Well then. Beloved sister, may I please have the pleasure of this dance?」
「Yes. I would be glad to.」
Vincent took his sister’s hand and in an ostentatious manner went towards the center of the room. Unfortunately, the showcasing of his good points as a brother ended with that.
His dancing steps were so clumsy that he would have probably tripped had his partner not been Ariel. Also far from being the one to lead, he was the one paying attention to every move his sister made.
It was so pathetic that the people watching could not bear to restrain themselves any longer and began chuckling. The nervousness of the whole assembly was blown away instantly.
That made Ariel angry and mid-way through the dance she glared at everybody which sent them scurrying back in panic.
By now everyone considered this event a humiliation for the Windhills, but the two people at its center…
「Jeez, because of onii-sama, we’ve become the butt of a joke.」
「And what’s wrong with that? Let’s laugh this off and enjoy ourselves anyway.」
They were enjoying the dance although in a different way than other people.
「It’s unsightly for a lady to laugh openly in public on an occasion like this. This may be just a school event, but it is still a social gathering, you know?」
「Yes, that is true. We won’t be able to fully enjoy ourselves in such a formal place after all, will we?」
Suddenly, the two began to think of the ball as too formal. It was because they discovered types of enjoyment that couldn’t be obtained by just following formal etiquette.
「Well, in that case, shall we change venues?」
「It seems those unable to participate in this event have been planning their own lively gathering in a different place on their own accord. I was also invited. Shall we go together?」
「Let that woman be the partner of the Crown Prince tonight. You’ll have that job after marriage whether he likes it or not.」
「Onii-sama, that is quite a problematic statement, you know?」
「Is it now? To be honest, I don’t… Nevermind, come, let’s have some actual fun.」
The jests that he was making were aimed at himself. Ariel noticed that Vincent was actually considerably angry underneath.
Neglecting his fiancée and taking another woman as his partner for the night. This was nothing but an act of humiliation for Ariel. There was no way that Vincent would forgive such malice towards his beloved sister.
But even so, with the offending party being the Crown Prince, he had no choice but to put up with it. And not being able to vent, his anger wouldn’t die down.
There was only one way to calm him. They had to cheer themselves up by spending their time enjoyably with their amiable circle of friends.
Shortly after that conversation, the silhouettes of the siblings had disappeared from the ball.
Although it was obvious, the ball continued despite the disappearance of Vincent and Ariel. Arnold who had to dance with Maria due to the turn of events finally managed to extricate himself midway but knowing how much he had messed up, he was very flustered.
That was because he noticed the stares after Ariel was led by Vincent to dance. Sympathy and scorn among other things, glances like those shouldn’t be directed towards the fiancée of a crown prince.
Afterward, Ariel got angry, stopped dancing and left. That in turn, twisted the stares even more horribly.
This was all his fault.
Although he immediately wanted to go after Ariel, the dance wasn’t over just yet. As he thought that he was finally set free, a shout for an encore was raised out of nowhere and he had to dance along to another melody. Whether it was his habit of meeting the expectations of the surroundings or just his indecisiveness, by not excusing himself after two dances he would have to suffer self-inflicted consequences.
Although he was finally able to go to Ariel after the encore, she was nowhere to be found. While he tried to find out where she was headed to, he was suddenly pulled into another dance. The timing was a little cruel. But during the times he avoided Ariel, she had always been the dance partner of Arnold after all.
With that being the case, he felt unable to turn down Charlotte’s invitation, and the problem of Ariel got postponed again.
This might have been a part of forcing the state of things to conform to game plot. This event was supposed to be when everyone would finally acknowledge the relationship between Arnold and Maria. This was also supposed to be when Ariel loses face by trying to chastise Maria.
The only thing that was against the plot at this point was that Arnold still had feelings for Ariel. This would be the next thing the World would focus on.
Finally being freed from the ball, the Crown Prince Arnold was now heading towards the academy’s backyards.
He managed to shake off the surroundings and asking for a place where Ariel could be most likely found, he was told that she must be with Vincent.
Although people couldn’t point him to a specific place, they said judging from the conversation of the two, they left to attend a separate event. He inquired the master of ceremonies about this and was told that every year, those with lower social status would be holding an informal banquet.
After considering the relationship between the Windhill siblings and the commoners, he had no more doubts. The two of them must have headed towards there.
As he walked towards the place where such a banquet should be held, he could hear lively music even from afar. When he was just a small distance from the site his feet had spontaneously hastened their pace.
But what welcomed him was the sight of Rion and Ariel happily dancing while being illuminated by the bonfire in the center.
(Again! Why is it always him!?)
The impatience caused by getting Ariel angry has turned into wrath due to the thought of them being able to dance so happily despite him almost losing his nerve.
It would be hard to assert that this was a completely unreasonable anger. The feelings of Arnold towards Ariel were really earnest, There was no way for the grievance of his feelings not being able to reach her to be entirely wrong.
What was wrong, however, was the part of it was him pushing all the fault for the situation on the other party.
Arnold drew the sword hanging at his waist and headed towards the crowd.
Students that looked at him immediately recognized what was going on, stopping their happy conversations mid-word. The fear of what might happen had they said anything right then rendered them mute.
The Crown Prince was not even paying them any mind and went straight towards Rion glaring at him.
Rion had also immediately noticed Arnold as well as what the prince might be planning to do.
He had no way of dealing with the situation, so he resolved to do absolutely nothing.
The sword was raised high. It was about to be swung down on Rion’s head. Someone shrieked as if imagining the tragedy about to unfold.
What followed was Arnold’s cry.
「….Someone like you!」
The arc of the blade was intercepted by a wooden pole from the side. It was Vincent blocking the strike with a piece of wood. While the Prince’s blade might have been a weapon, but a purely ceremonial one.
And then another person to block Arnold’s sword.
With both her arms spread wide, protecting Rion from the Crown Prince, it was Ariel.
「Step aside, Ariel!」
「I will not!」
「Do you not hear my orders!?」
「…I do not!」
「You are my fiancée! Why are you protecting that man!」
「This and that is different! Why does your highness aim his sword at Rion!?」
The Crown Prince was not able to admit to her that it was caused by jealousy. The flow of events might have changed had he overcome his shame and put it into words.
But no, that would not happen. There was no way the World would permit that.
The prince escaped Ariel’s stare, the name he called was Vincent’s.
「You will dismiss that valet.」
「That is… Not something I can do, highness.」
「This is an order, Vincent.」
「Even so. No servant can be dismissed without justification.」
「Lèse-majesté is a capital offence. A reason enough.」
「On what ground does your highness invoke that…」
「Does House Windhill think to go against the crown?」
That was obviously rather unfair of the prince. Involving the name of their House in the context of going against the will of the royal family, with this Vincent wouldn’t be able to speak against it anymore.
However, they were not the only people in this place. And that also was Vincent’s misfortune.
「What disrespect? If Rion was disrespectful, then you are a boor!」
「Who was that! Who dared to say this!?」
…Yelled Vincent. It was partly a warning to all present to go no further than this. The students here all understood that and some averted their eyes away from nobles while others began feigning ignorance.
However, there’s no way the Crown Prince would be satisfied with just that. Those words just now were, without a doubt, a ridicule towards him who was a royalty. Whoever said that should be the one being truly questioned for lèse-majesté and Arnold had never experienced such a treatment from his surroundings before.
「You all will present whoever that was right now.」
「…Majesty, we do not know who that was.」
「And you think that will excuse you!?」
「Your highness, your vassal begs for clemency for people here. Please show magnanimity.」
「Why would I ever do that!?」
「We beg for your highness’ indulgence…」
Vincent was kneeling on the ground deeply bowing his head. After Arnold’s first refusal Ariel and Rion followed suit.
「I know this is not enough to soothe your highness’ just rage, but please find it in yourself to forgive them just once.」
The students watching this turn of events were much more surprised than Arnold. Even if their relationship was good, Vincent was of a marquess rank and belonged to the top echelon of the society. And here, just to protect one of them, he was prostrating himself on the ground, even with it happening in front of their eyes they still found it unbelievable.
Furthermore, even the subject of their longing, the noble Ariel was doing so as well. They were not only moved, but were also angry at Arnold who made Ariel do such a thing.
Vincent’s actions began to turn counterproductive.
「…I will not pursue this.」
Arnold also noticed rising unrest in those present here, which is why he agreed.
「We thank for your highness’ grace.」
As Vincent raised his head to convey his gratitude, he saw the Crown Prince already turned his back to leave.
The matter would obviously not be settled just with this. Arnold had to let an offense slide against his will. For him, that was a disgrace. And he would hold a grudge towards people that brought such shame on him – Vincent and the others.
That day Maria would finally hear the words she was expecting from the Crown Prince. He desired dissolution of his engagement to Ariel.
And not just that. He stated publicly that the Windhill siblings harbored a lack of respect towards the royal family. Both Lancelot and Erwin, Vincent’s step-brother, were overjoyed by that pronouncement.
As the year progressed towards the last event in the Academy, the World’s preparations steadily progressed without a hitch.
Yep the boor prince doesn’t deserve our villainess.
Anyhow the next chapter will be released at exactly 12:15 UTC (15 minutes after this)