Akuyaku Reijou ni Koi Wo Shite:
“The Event’s Unchanged Outcome.”
Ariel had already lost count of how many days had passed since she was confined to this place. And on top of that, she had no recollection of the first few days either.
Having been accused of something she had nothing to do with, she admitted to all the charges to cover for the commoners close to her, knowing that they were the main target of the investigation bureau. Her brother Vincent, having the same thoughts, was taken by the investigators at the same time.
That was the last time she had seen Vincent.
After being taken away, she was, in practice, left alone. That meant she might not have undergone a strict interrogation but on the flip side, she did not have the chance to protest either.
While she was thinking how to proceed from there, she was, out of the blue, handed her sentence.
The punishment far exceeded a simple loss of status. She was also deprived of her civil rights. In short, she was turned into a slave. When she heard that her future disintegrated in front of her eyes. As that revelation started to crush her, she was told what would Vincent’s fate was to be and that was like twisting the knife in the wound.
Public execution for the crime of high treason. From then on, Ariel remembered nothing.
She vaguely recalled being on the receiving end of very unpleasant stares. She had short flashbacks of being transported somewhere in a carriage. But save for this, she had no memories from that period.
When her awareness came back, she was already in this place. A room with one bed and small garderobe. The room was so simple that it paled in comparison to the living quarters of the staff in the mansion.
The food was rather crude too, but it was at least provided every mealtime without a hitch.
She was provided a change of clothing. Those were made out of good quality materials, however, their design was rather obscene and she surprisingly found herself unwilling to wear them even though she did not find them all that troubling.
But even so, she could not be wearing the same set of clothes forever which made her face another problem. Ever since she was born she had never put on clothes on her own.
Unable to hide that fact she was forced to make use of people tasked with looking after her. However, they were not like her maids who did everything for her, they limited their effort to teaching her how to do things on her own.
There was nothing she could do about that. She was already a slave. Finally coming to terms with this fact she set herself on working hard on her new life.
And then, one day, Ariel realized what kind of place this was.
Sometimes, she could hear voices coming from the other side of the wall. It sounded like groans, so at first, she thought there were sick people there. But then she was told the noise was made by men and women sleeping together which made her face turn pale.
Even though she had a sheltered upbringing she now knew her fate. She had become a slave, in other words, she was sold here in order to accompany men.
After figuring that out Ariel lived her days in fear expecting a man to open the door and enter her room at any moment. Every time she heard the voices from the other side of the wall, she covered her ears with her hands in order to block the noise.
But even so, that day was bound to come. The women taking care of her switched their focus to teaching her how to take care of men’s needs.
Ariel failed those lessons on purpose, she expected she would be sent to employ the skills once she mastered them. However, even that lack of success was praised and she was told she might be able to make her partner pleased nonetheless.
That being the case, she thought her only remaining choice was to escape. But uncertainty about how would she live afterward stopped her from trying to run. Ariel didn’t even have spare food for tomorrow’s meal. And she had no confidence in being able to work like a commoner would have to.
Faced with the inability to do anything she fell back into despair. She shed many tears during that time.
And then the day she was dreading arrived.
She heard someone being guided down the hallway. Those footsteps were slowly getting closer to her room. And there was nowhere to hide in her room even if she tried.
She decided she would rather die than be violated, but there were no tools nearby that could aid with suicide. While she was thinking about what to do, the footsteps stopped in front of her door.
There could be no more doubt, her room was the destination.
The door slowly opened from outside and Ariel noticed a man on the other side, his appearance caused her to slap his cheek by reflex.
Being suddenly slapped Rion’s eyes opened wide.
「Rion! So you even visit places like this!?」
Still surprised Rion was greeted by her angry question. Ariel’s thoughts have been in such utter chaos that this somehow became her biggest concern.
「…Do I visit …Well, I do own this establishment, milady.」
「Ah, yes. I must apologize for making you wait here so long. Various issues prevented me from coming immediately.」
「…You own this establishment?」
Although she calmed down somewhat, unsurprisingly her confusion was yet to clear completely. Being suddenly told that Rion was the owner of a brothel, it was natural for Ariel to struggle with grasping the circumstances.
「There’s no need for milady to have any strange suspicions, I do not give places like this one my custom. As for how I ended owning one, that’s a complicated tale best left for later.」
「The plan was to just shelter milady here. That sadly required confining milady to this room, for which I must apologize. Obviously, it would be a big trouble if this hideout was discovered by strangers.」
Rion knew that the Crown Prince Arnold had come to the slave market. From the start, he had focused his information gathering on the aristocrats who frequented the auctions. But even without that, he would still be notified about this by the slavers there, who were his subordinates.
「I see…. In other words, I have become Rion’s slave haven’t I?」
「…What is my master’s first wish?」
Ariel whispered this softly into Rion’s ear after bringing her body close. It was one of the things she was taught by her female caretakers. Rion, never expecting this, was completely dumbfounded.
「W-Who was it!? Who taught lady Ariel those kinds of things!?」
He figured out the circumstances immediately. His angry voice traveled into the building while he was trying to hide his embarrassment. Seeing that reaction, Ariel laughed happily. It has been a long time since she had laughed from the bottom of her heart like this.
「That was just a joke. And now I’m even with you for the surprise you gave me earlier.」
「…Milady, this was a bad joke.」
「However, I undeniably am your slave.」
「Ah well, there was no choice..」
「…Oh? So you had no choice but to save me?」
「No, of course not! I was trying to say there were no other methods to save you!」
Ariel’s heart became lively. She now had Rion, who she always trusted would save her, in front of her after all those days of fearing for the future.
「Before we continue, there’s something I have to tell milady.」
Rion poured cold water on Ariel’s cheerful feelings.
「…What is it?」
Because Rion was looking at her with a serious face, Ariel’s expression changed too. Her heart could already anticipate what he was about to say.
「I was unable to save lord Vincent.」
「…That was never possible.」
There were no easy ways to overturn that kind of sentence. And all of them were beyond Rion’s means.
That was what Ariel meant by her answer.
「I was able to reach him, but in the end, he lost his life while saving mine.」
「You did what?!」
Rion managed to surprise her again.
「You reached his side? He saved you?」
「I went to rescue Vincent-sama but, because he was unwilling to go without persuasion, my attempt was delayed and… Honestly, it’s all excuses.」
Saying this brought out old wounds from within Rion’s heart. But Ariel was glaring at him looking as if she was about to slap him again.
「…I am sorry, milady.」
Thinking about how she must be feeling right now, Rion bowed his head deeply to apologize.
「What are you sorry for?」
He heard Ariel’s voice from above his head.
「For failing to save lord Vincent.」
「Stupid! I am angry that you attempted something that foolishly reckless!」
Rion, raising his head because of this, was suddenly embraced by Ariel’s arms as she hugged him with all her might.
「I had already given up on saving brother. Doing that was really painful, but I knew that at least he would face his death with pride.」
「…That, he did.」
He intended to listen carefully but having Ariel so close, whispering into his ear, dulled the grief from recalling Vincent’s death.
「I have lost my beloved older brother. If I were to lose Rion as well, I could not carry on living.」
As she spoke, his sad feelings slowly faded away. Rion’s longing for Ariel had surpassed the sadness he felt about Vincent’s death.
Slowly, with some hesitation at first, both arms of Rion embraced Ariel’s back and he began to hug her tightly too.
「…And now I am no longer an aristocrat, I am a slave.」
「…That’s for appearances only.」
「Oh? Are you planning to raise my status, then?」
「Through marriage with you, perhaps?」
Now that the impediment that was the disparity between their social status was lost, Ariel became excessively assertive.
「…Is milady really fine with someone like me?」
「Those honorifics are unnecessary, you know.」
「…Ah, are you really fine with me?」
「The real question is whether Rion is fine with me.」
Because Rion’s most important person was being this lovely his heart filled with nothing but longing. He could find no more reasons to repress those feelings any longer.
「…My heart has been thinking about you all this time.」
This kind of youthful flirting, something finally no longer forbidden to them, carried on for a while. After they had their fill, Rion shared the King’s plan with Ariel.
He was mostly concerned that she might take being at the bottom of noble hierarchy harder than if she became an actual commoner.
But all she said in response was that everything would be fine for her as long as she was beside him.
After hearing her response, Rion decided to proceed to the border territory. Thus Baron Rion Frey and Ariel, his wife to be, arrived at the world’s stage.
In the game, this event concluded with Ariel being disinherited by Lord Marquess Windhill and married off to a distant noble.
The will of this World was arranging events to arrive at its desired form. This process had no relation to concepts of good and evil, neither was it concerned whether things were being arranged for the sake of the protagonist or the villain.
Even though Rion decided to go to the border territory, it wasn’t like he could just set off immediately. Creating a new barony required the crown to perform many bureaucratic procedures before the rank and land could be awarded to him.
Rion too had many things to arrange before leaving the capital.
「So, with things like this Ain will replace m–」
Ain declined flatly without even letting Rion finish his words.
「This role is beyond me.」
「….In that case, Gordon…」
「I refuse as well.」
Gordon did the same thing.
「I am not fit for this role either.」
「I disagree, Gordon, you did lead your own group before, right?」
Before Rion became the leader of the underworld, Gordon was one of the gang bosses competing for the top.
「The scale and objectives were way different. The way boss’ organization is now, someone like me won’t be able to control it at all.」
「Then who do you think should replace me?」
「No one can. It can’t be done.」
「The sentiment is nice, I guess, but I will end up far away from here. How will that even work?」
「Even if you are not present, it’s fine for boss to remain the head.」
「I will not able to manage affairs from such a distant location.」
「It will be alright with me and Ain acting as deputies.」
Gordon clearly contradicted himself just now. There was no way Rion wouldn’t be able to notice that.
「Isn’t that ridiculous? Then isn’t it fine if I’m not a leader anyway?」
If Ain and Gordon could just represent him as deputies, there was no apparent need for Rion to remain as the head.
「Whether it is an actual leader or just a figurehead, the organization need someone to stand at its top. However, I don’t feel like serving under Ain and neither does he like the prospect of being my underling. So if we are to cooperate together, there can’t be a difference in status.」
This sort of logical explanation was totally unlike Gordon. Having a plan like this ready, it was obvious that they prepared for this conversation beforehand.
「I can do this in name only.」
「Everyone here needs that name.」
Rion was the beacon of hope, the only ray of light in the darkness for those living in the slums. If that was lost, the area would revert to its original state – a place of carnage where no one dreamed about the future. Both Ain and Gordon knew that.
「…Fine. But I’ll need a way to exchange information with you two.」
「I have a way for that.」
Now Ain started talking. This too seemed to be prepared ahead of time. But then, working underneath Rion forced them to develop a capability to anticipate his future moves. Without that, they would not be able to cope with his orders arriving one after another.
「And that is?」
「We will have merchant caravans travel back and forth between the territories.」
「That can work. However my new fief is poor and remote, can we manage to trade without a loss?」
「I’m sure boss will think of a way.」
「Mhm. I need to find a way to make my fief prosper, too. Alright, I’ll figure something out. But the travel time would still be in range of months, right?」
「There is another facet to this plan.」
Ain and other spared no effort to figure out a way to keep Rion involved in the organization.
「We still lack details, but we want to expand to other towns」
「…I figured it would come to this eventually. Isn’t there still much space for expansion in the capital, though?」
「There is. But that would make us start attracting attention. We do have the power to take over the commercial district, but attempting that will make everyone aware of that fact. And while I don’t mind alerting our usual competition it would be bad to have the authorities focus on us.」
Even though they were involved in many different kinds of enterprises all of that was in the underground after all. If the crown discovered an influential and powerful black market organization like theirs, it would without a doubt try to clamp down on it. And that would be the end for the slums. No matter how hard they tried, they would not be able to oppose the kingdom.
Rion had a habit when he was thinking about complex things like those, he would close his eyes and raise his right index finger to the bridge of his nose. Once that finger descended to his lips, it would mean that his thoughts were collected.
「What’s the plan, boss?」
Ain knew that habit well and asked for Rion’s thoughts.
「You can go ahead. But target the settlements between my territory and the capital.」
「We need to plan our moves before acting. I also feel it would be better to start from smaller towns before moving on to the bigger ones, but I’ll make the final decision on this as I travel to my fief. I can’t be sure before I see the places in question.」
Gordon and Ain already knew that whenever Rion really got involved, plans tended to grow larger in scope. Here they suddenly found themselves discussing a takeover of all the towns along the way from the capital to the remote region. That was tantamount to aiming to be the top of the country’s underground society.
「That’s boss for you, things are gonna get busy again.」
Although Ain said it with exaggerated exhaustion in his voice, he was obviously happy. By following Rion, their horizons were bound to get broader and larger. No matter how many difficulties that may pose, being able to face the future like that made him unbearably happy.
「We’ll need more henchmen too, eh? Shall we start recruiting excelling scumbags? We will need at least one for each town and we just don’t have enough men.」
Gordon felt the same. For him, deciding to bend his neck to Rion had always been the best choice he had ever made in his life.
「Incorporate some of those smart enough to jump ship too. Crushing all potential opposition would weaken the underground too much for the future.」
And Rion too enjoyed figuring out those kinds of schemes. Even if they were heartless ones bound to drop other people into the deepest pit of despair. After all, Rion, loathing humanity as a whole, was not the kind of person to bother with such trivial considerations.
On the other hand, Ariel, who had seen that side of Rion for the first time, was simply having fun.
「Hey, Rion. Does this mean that I’m not only going to be a wife of a baron but also a wife of a crime lord as well?」
「What does that make me?」
「The usual way of addressing someone in this position is “senior sister”.」
It was Ain who answered her question as Rion was still not well versed in these sorts of underworld customs.
「Oh my, a “senior sister”, even though I’m younger than most of you?」
「Our little society does not concern itself with age, obligations and social ties are everything .」
As one would expect, it was hard for Ariel, a sheltered daughter of an aristocrat, to understand it. But even so, Ain didn’t give up.
「Hmm. As an example, we call Frey the boss, but our social ties to him are like his children and we follow him like we would a father.」
「So that’s how it is?」
「Yes. Incidentally, Gordon and I are “sworn brothers”. Although Gordon is far older than me, since I became boss’ child first I am the senior brother.」
「….As I thought, I don’t get it. Then why am I the senior sister?」
「Because you are the wife of the boss, you stand at the top of the family.」
「…But shouldn’t I be the mother then rather than a sibling of yours?」
「…I guess? I wonder why things are like that now?」
「You don’t even know that? Fine, I’ll explain then. The underworld is, obviously, a place for men. A woman, even if she’s the wife of a boss can hold no power here. Therefore she can never be the mother to be obeyed but is a senior sister to be respected instead.」
There was hardly anyone who could match Gordon’s knowledge of customs brought about by years of experience and accumulated wisdom.
「That’s like saying a woman and her blood is worth less here.」
「We are not removed from normal society, we can only mirror what is true there.」
「Oh my, well said.」
「T-Thank you very much.」
Just like this, Ariel had also won the hearts of Rion’s subordinates.
Ariel’s true qualities were not straightforward to notice. Her real self was obscured by the radiance of her appearance, bearing, and pedigree.
 Anyway this is originally “姉様” or “Ane-sama” but on how it was explained on the latter parts it seemed to be complicated so we tried to find a better one that fits the context, syndicate rank-wise.