14. Rumours (3)

+ 5 Reputation Points

+ 5 Reputation Points

+ 5 Emotional Points

Villainess Reputation currently 70/100

I didn’t know in which direction the rumours derailed to gain this much points but seeing my Side Quest resolve itself really reduced my enthusiasm to shut down the rumours.

‘By the way, why are there two different kinds of points?’ I had been thinking about them ever since they first came up.

The Reputation Points belong to the general public like students, professors and servants while the Emotional Points belong to important characters in the game like the Heroine or the Capture Targets.

‘Got it, thanks.’

The way to my classroom felt longer than normal. Ines was trotting behind me, her swollen eyes had yet to fade. She must have been really worried.

“I will make an appointment with the Crown Prince to discuss how to handle this. Abrupt actions would just make things worse. Maybe we will eat lunch a few times, shutting down a baseless rumour isn’t that hard if done right.”

Be that as it may, I thoroughly underestimated or better overestimated the Prince.

Roughly a minute after entering the classroom, I heard a commotion in front of the door.

“There you are!” The Prince pushed himself through the crowd ignoring all noble conduct and pointed his finger at me. “You! How dare you spread such baseless rumours just to get my attention! Do you really think your father doesn’t know you are framing me?! Or do you want revenge for your own misunderstanding?!”

A large crowd followed the Prince inside and I wasn’t able to discern between the Prince entourage and simple onlookers.

‘It was a baseless rumour seconds ago, my Prince’, I thought to myself but didn’t talk nonsense. If we openly quarrelled at a point like this, much worse rumours could spread tarnishing us both. I slowly stood up. The Prince might not notice right now because of his anger but me sitting down while he was standing reversed our standings.

This was critical.

“Your Highness, I do not know what you are talking about. I believe, there wasn’t any instance that drastic between us. I admit that our relationship is a little strained right now. There were many misunderstandings but you and I know how baseless this rumour is, right?”

The last sentence was said for the crowd surrounding us. Again, I underestimated the Crown Prince’s brain circuits.

“Ha! Now you are showing your true colours! First spreading baseless rumours to get my attention and then trying to smooth things over?! If I hadn’t heard about these rumours from Ellen then I would have lost dozens of supporters!”

‘Don’t drag her into this! You are already involved in many scandals with her. Are you insane! What’s wrong with you? Never learned to protect your informant’s identity!’ Cursing him in my mind, my eyebrow began to twitch because of the annoyance. Our surroundings became noisy.

Yes, this would make for juicy rumours.

Ines who faithfully stood with the other servants looked uneasy. I just told her to trust me and how easy it would be to resolve this. It felt like someone slept me in the face. Hard at that.

“Crown Prince Aiden” I addressed him a little impatiently. “Please consider your surroundings before you speak. There are many people who might misinterpret your words. In the worst case even worse rumours may spread. Besides, a noble who would believe a rumour which can’t be verified isn’t worthy to be your future support. You wouldn’t know when they would turn their back on you.”

If my words were neutral before then I would probably gain a few haters with this.

Glossing over a few remarks of the Prince was fine, I was not narrow-minded enough to mind them. What set my fury ablaze was him pretending to be innocent although he already confessed unintentional last time, furthermore falsely accusing me of spreading rumours whilst in reality I thought about helping him to avoid a negative backlash.

Again the Prince only selectively heard the first part, totally ignoring my advice.

“Wow, I am impressed. Now that it concerns you, you are worried about rumours. You’re so selfless.” He said with a sneer on his face. “Just so you know, I have no idea of marrying you.” He looked really smug as he said that, believing to have hurt me deeply.

He didn’t know that her soul shattered.

He still believed ‘Sophien’ liked him.

And knowing how ‘Sophien’ liked him, he intentionally spat on her feelings.

Something snapped inside me.

Yes, this was just the kind of person he was. I already saw his behaviour in Sophien’s memories.

He was an uneducated child who was never berated for anything he did.

“That’s a mutual sentiment, Your Highness. Please notify the king about your wishes, I will cooperate.”

My voice was low and a little menacing. I was fed up with him. I had never meant someone as partial, self-centred and narrow-minded as him.

The crowd exclaimed in surprise and I bet with excitement and bliss. I ignored it all.

Altogether, I only had three conversations in one timeline with the Prince. His behaviour might change depending on the situation or person he talked to, however if someone could be this abusive to one person and this included Sophien’s past since their first meeting, what did that say about him as a person?

Sophien might have overstepped her boundaries in teaching the Heroine and the Crown Prince noble behaviour and common sense but there was just no excuse for emotional and physical abuse.

He didn’t hit her, of course. I was talking about the attempts to take her life which was even worse.

Like I saw it considering Sophien’s memories and my own experiences with him, then they accused Sophien of something they themselves did.

Sophien never lay a hand on the Heroine or ordered others to do so. She was deeply mistrustful of Ellen because she didn’t behave according to common sense and had many inconsistencies with her origin and conduct thus she used sharp words to berate her but never intentionally abused her. One had to remember that Sophien was taught like that by her own brother and father.

Her behaviour wasn’t right either. Pouring water on the floor to remind someone of their status was bullying and there was no excuse. Sophien was also ignorant and mean so if someone had the right to be angry with her, it would be Ellen and nobody else.

Furthermore the game made it impossible to apologise after she realised her wrongs and broadened her mind.

So in that sense there was no black and white in this game, just greyness.

But being emotionally abused with no rational basis or offence? I couldn’t fathom how Sophien endured and still tried to educate that fool, going so far as to get hurt in the process.

Sophien, a Villainess who dies before the conclusion of the game, was able to gain awareness because she noticed the inconsistency of her thoughts and behaviours. She felt how her behaviour was wrong.

On the other hand, the Prince, who had far more scenes to notice something is up, continued to abuse her and tried to get rid of her several times without feeling anything? This said a lot about our Hero.

And now I would be caged to continue these atrocities towards Ellen…

Detecting dangerous behaviour from the host.

Issuing a warning.

Warning! Please remain inside the boundaries of your role and settle this disagreement peacefully. Otherwise the host will be penalised.

Distracted by the Game System’s notification, I came back to myself. I did not have the luxury to pity others.

The silent fury calmed down however I wouldn’t back down on this. I would play the Villainess to my own terms.

‘Can you relay a message to the Game System?’

Go on, the Game System is always monitoring you, it just doesn’t respond like I do.

I shuddered. Goosebumps.

‘Understood. In that case’ I slowly breathed then gathered myself a little more.

‘I am responding to the warning. The engagement is something agreed upon by both families and can’t be nullified simply. It is a contract in essence with penalties and conditions to meet.

Furthermore, my declaration of independence will put pressure on the Crown Prince and Heroine because he needs my support to ascend the throne. It can be seen as another obstacle to the Heroine’s love.

Please retract the penalty and allow me to proceed.’

Processing… … …

Request permitted.

In case of any violation of the host’s role a forced reset is set in place.

Please proceed cautiously.

I let out the breath I withheld. At least, the Game System listened to reason and was able to negotiate. I guess that’s what made it possible to advance in the first place.

Well that was unexpected.

The system was surprised as well. Meanwhile our lovely Prince still didn’t make a sound.

All this happened in the blink of an eye thanks to my Skill Calmness which not only calmed my senses but also allowed me to think clearer and faster. So I took another second to take in our surroundings.

We were in a large room resembling a lecture hall, a podium with a blackboard was in the front and my lecturer, Professor Lester, had long since arrived, only watching us.

When I turned to the left I saw sneering students looking deeply entertained and the servants lined up at the wall. They too watched with keen eyes only a few, Ines included, looked pale or unwell.

We had become a spectacle.

“Did you think that I would just always take your nonsense?” I asked the baffled Prince who couldn’t read the room.

“Even if you don’t like it,” I strode towards him and stopped right in front. “I am still a Duke’s daughter so mind your manners. As for the rumour, you are right. My father wouldn’t act without evidence. I am his daughter and know this best so why would I spread nonsense?” This gave me a direct response. Everybody knew about the estranged relationship between Sophien and her father.

A look of unease flashed across the Prince’s face but it was too late. I didn’t have the patience to teach. He would have to go to the Heroine for that.

I took another step forward causing him to retreat.”If you don’t want rumours to tarnish your reputation, Your Highness, then don’t do things you might be sorry for in the first place. We both know best what I mean.”

This was an indirect consent to the rumours regarding him hiring an assassin. His face twisted beautifully.

“Didn’t you say I am showing my real colours?” I continued. “I haven’t even started yet. Instead you clearly showed me yours, Prince Aiden. Is there anything left to say? Our Magic instructor has been watching us since a while ago but wasn’t able to interrupt His Highness the Crown Prince and a Duke’s daughter because normally one has to mind one’s own words in front of high-nobles.”

Another indirect blow, this time against the Heroine. I gave him a beautiful smile and bowed gracefully.

“Then I’ll see you off, Your Highness.” My words sounded prickly even to my own ears.

Aiden Alecto Saphièr’s face contorted. Baleful he stared at me. “Is this the answer you decided on?”

‘Yes, let’s be irreconcilable enemies.’ I thought. ‘I don’t need a fiance like this.’

“This is my advice to the prospective successor of the kingdom.” I corrected him and stood back up without his permission.

“Very well, I will relay your words to my father.”

“Then I will do the same to mine, Your Highness.” This was a threat meaning mind your words and I will mind mine. Disgracing and disrespecting me openly would make my father act. I mean, Sophien’s father. Troubled, I shook my head. Did our feelings get mixed up again?

Whether the Prince understood my warning or not wasn’t clear.

Nonetheless, I took a deep breath.

This concluded the short event between the Crown Prince and I. If I did not act like a Villainess then I would need to reread the definition of one.

The Crown Prince left together with his entourage and all those onlookers.

I turned my attention to the podium and bowed again. This time sincerely. I changed my conduct from threatening to neutral again. I couldn’t unleash my anger at uninvolved parties.

“My apologies for dragging out a personal conflict inside the classroom and also verbally involving you, Professor Lester. I will hand in a written reflection by tomorrow morning.”

I could hear the whole class gasp again.

Seeing an offspring of a high-noble bow to the second son of a Viscount wasn’t a common sight. Some might say, I bowed my head too easily but I knew what was proper.

Professor Lester gave me a nod, acknowledging my apology. Only then did I straighten my back.

Thankfully professor Lester didn’t hold his grudges.

The moment everyone settled down, notifications rang in my ears.

+ 5 Reputation Points

+ 10 Emotional Points

Villainess Reputation currently 85/100

This Side Quest was easier done than I expected.


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