Reincarnated Princess Wishes To Avoid Death - Chapter 231
Princess Mia reveals her special ghost story
The wood that was on fire crackled and popped. A light breeze blew around the huge bonfire, making it light up the beach with flickering orange light.
Mia sat on a blanket on the sand, with her arms around her knees. Her eyes were tired and glassy as she looked into the empty air. She had no energy left after her training session at noon, and it was all she could do to keep her eyes open. Even if they did, she was fine because she had already done everything she needed to. She had taken a swim in the sea and eaten a dinner as good as the Greenmoons are known to be.
After getting clean and eating, all that was left to do was crawl into a tent they had set up a little ways from shore and go to sleep. But something about this short time between being awake and going to sleep kept her from moving.
In the flickering light of the flame, shadows moved around. The place was quiet and a little bit hypnotic.
She thought, How magical! before yawning. Still, I think I’ve done all I can. Time to snooze…
Esmeralda’s voice broke through the quiet just as she was about to stand up.
“All right…” She said in a low, quiet voice, “I think it’s time to begin.”
“Begin? Hm? Begin what?” Mia looked at her, and half of one eyelid was raised.
Esmeralda nodded slowly and carefully, and then her lips spread into a wicked grin. “Of course, telling ghost stories.”
“Take a look around. Campfire. Summer night. Spending your vacation on an empty island. “What could we possibly do else?”
“Wow, I didn’t know you liked such silly things!”
Mia was caught off guard by the idea. She looked out at the darkening sea and then at the leaves moving in the forest. It felt like strange monsters might be hiding in the shadows just out of sight because of how creepy the place was.
Mia didn’t think there were ghosts or monsters, so she wasn’t scared.
I’m not scared at all. In fact, all of this is very stupid. Ghost stories? Hmph, kids are the only ones who like to tell scary stories. I’m happy to listen, of course. I could listen all night long. But I don’t want people to put me in the same group as her and think I’m enjoying it. Maybe I should say why I don’t like this idea? Even if there might be a lot of opposition.
She put on a smile despite what looked like a nervous twitch in her cheek.
“Why, Esmeralda, you’re acting like a child by getting so upset about something like that.”
“Oh, Miss Mia, please don’t say that… Are you scared?”
“S-S-Scared? Who, me? I am not scared.”
“Then there shouldn’t be a problem, right? Feel free to join us and have fun with our silly stories.”
She didn’t even make it through three sentences before Esmeralda beat her.
“Since I came up with the idea, I’ll start with a really scary one—”
“Wait, Esmeralda,” she said quickly.
She must really like scary stories, based on how eager she is… Most likely, her classmates have told her a lot of really scary ones. Who could go to sleep after hearing that? At least not Anne! I worry about Anne a lot!
On the yacht, Esmeralda had been pretty mean to Anne. This was definitely another part of her plan to scare the poor girl. Mia made a brave decision out of kindness to protect her loyal maid from more pain.
It was done out of kindness, not because she was afraid to hear the story.
The question is, who do I call on?
Mia looked at the faces of each person in turn.
Sion is good at everything, so it’s likely that he’s also good at scary stories. Keithwood… Hmph, he has a face that makes girls like him. If they have asked him to tell stories like these before, he probably has a lot of experience. As for Abel, he may have heard some scary stories from Remno or somewhere.
Scary stories had one thing in common: they often followed patterns. When a story was easy to guess, it wasn’t as scary. A strange story from another country, though… That would be a different level of scariness as before. After hearing something like that, there was no way she could sleep.
Anne, to be exact. Anne wouldn’t get any sleep. From what he did on the boat, it’s clear that Abel has a sneaky side. If something gets to him, he might try harder to scare us and tell a scarier story. He is a very risky hand to play.
That gave her only one choice.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell the first story.”
Her plan was very easy to understand. She was going to think of a story that took a long time to tell, so that everyone else would have less time. She wouldn’t be scared because it was her story.
She meant Anne when she said “she.”
She did think that her logic might be starting to break down at this point, but she decided not to worry about small things.
What was important was the big picture. What should I do, though? I usually don’t listen to scary stories… No, not because I am scared of them. It’s because a lot of them are silly.
After thinking for a while, she spoke softly: “This is a story…about a princess who died at the guillotine.” It was about her own life!
She told about her past, adding a few details here and there to make it more interesting. Since the goal was to take up a lot of time, she worked hard to find story after story from the deepest parts of her mind and try to put them all together in a long story that made sense.
She went on and on about the headless ghost that appeared in the castle and the story it told, the bloody diary it left behind, the fear and agony leading up to the day of the guillotine, and the despair of that terrible moment when the iron blade fell…
She told it with style, and her voice was sad at times and spooky at others.
As she talked, the other people’s faces became more tense.
Hm? Are they really scared by my story? Oho.
So, she felt something when she saw the fear on their faces. It made them feel excited. She realised that it was kind of fun to scare people. She kept telling her story with more passion, making her voice louder and her movements more dramatic. She owned the stage, and things were going well for her. She kept talking and gesturing, scaring her audience more and more. When she was done, she was met with the sound of crickets.
The crowd was completely quiet.
Wow, they’re really scared. My story must have been really scary…It was clear that I did a good job.
She felt pretty good about herself until she got her first comment, which was, “The way you said that… It was as if you had seen it for yourself… Especially the part about the guillotine.”
It came from Sion, and it woke her up from her happy thoughts.
She took another look at the faces of the people in the room and saw that she had done something very wrong.
Her story didn’t make them feel scared. People were afraid of her. Because her description of the guillotine was so real that it scared them.
It was very real, describing everything from the smells and sounds of the people who had come to watch the execution to how it felt when the blade cut into her neck.
Her words were too real—too horrible—for the delicate minds of her well-bred friends.
“Well, we all know how much Miss Mia likes to make up stories. I guess it makes sense that she also has, uh, a very colourful imagination.”
In the end, it was Esmeralda who saved the day by giving everyone an explanation that didn’t require them to start seriously questioning Mia’s sanity.
Keithwood pursed his lips as he tried to make sense of Mia’s rambling story. He was doing some last-minute things to get ready for the night while listening in. He didn’t know what to think at first. It wasn’t very scary for a story about ghosts.
Or much of a story, for that matter. After thinking about it for a while, he finally got it.
Ah, I see what the princess is doing. This is a precautionary story. She’s giving a subtle warning about Lady Esmeralda’s behaviour in the form of a campfire story.
Criticism is more likely to get through to someone with a closed mind if it’s in the form of a story. Priests of the Central Orthodox Church used it often because it worked well. Even Rafina used stories to teach about God, and it was clear that Mia wasn’t above a little mimicry to get her point across.
It made perfect sense, especially since Keithwood knew that Mia’s main trait was her stubborn refusal to leave other people to their flaws. She both thought they could change for the better and tried to help them do so. Since Esmeralda was her friend, she couldn’t ignore the way she was acting. So, she made up a story about an arrogant princess who did stupid things.
The lesson is pretty clear. If you don’t care about your people, you’ll end up like her.
I have to say, though, that “If there’s no bread, let them eat cake” line was a pretty hard shot at that princess. Even Esmeralda doesn’t have so little knowledge that she would say something like that. I guess she did a little bit to make things fair by making the girl work hard to fix things after her empire started to fall apart. It’s good storytelling to give your characters at least a couple of good qualities.
With his interest piqued, he looked at the story’s main character.
The question is whether Esmeralda will realise this story is about her.
The person in question jumped to her feet and said, “All right, I’m next!”
“Now, my story,” Esmeralda said, putting her hand to her chest and grinning. “Let me tell you a simple story about an island and the terrible things that are said to live there.”
Keithwood shook his head and laughed to himself. It looked like Mia’s attempt didn’t work out the way she wanted it to.
Mia fought the urge to pull at her hair out of frustration.
Keithwood was right, but not in the way he thought. Her attempt had failed, but not in the way he thought.
She had told her story badly, ending it too soon so that Esmeralda could still tell hers.
Ugh, I just made a terrible mistake!
She thought. But there was nothing she could do now.
Esmeralda started with a flourish.
“This is an old Ganudos folktale, told and retold by its people. It’s about the ghosts of cultists who roam the land…”
She lowered her voice and told the story in a scary way.
“Long, long ago, before our empire was built, there was a group of people who were forced to leave their home, which was somewhere across the sea. As they ran away from the people who were after them, they hated both their country and its people. They found a deserted island and hid there. It was an island just like the one we are on now, and they waited there, promising to get back to their country and get even with the people they hated. To fuel their hatred, they even built a secret underground shrine to worship the Archdaemon.
“But…,” she stopped.
She didn’t say anything else until she had looked at the faces of each person in the audience.
“There, the cultists died, leaving behind only their bitter hatred. Some people say that their angry, evil ghosts still roam the island to this day. And that island…could be the one we’re on now.”
The wind whistled in a way that sounded like a sad moan.
This wind made the fire roar and send angry sparks flying into the air. “Eeek!”
Mia jerked back and let out a gasp. Then, she reached behind her and quietly grabbed Anne’s skirt hem. It was, of course, a kind thing to do because she cared about her maid.
Anne noticed the pull and gently put her hand on Mia’s.
“It sounds like the wind is picking up,” Abel said, with a hint of worry in his voice.
As their guards looked around, their faces were also clouded with worry.
“At this rate, it’s going to be a stormy night at sea, too,” Sion said. “Is your sailboat going to be okay?”
“There’s nothing to worry about, Prince Sion. More than a little wind will be needed to sink that ship. I’ve also made sure to hire a captain with a lot of experience. Don’t worry, everything will be fine.” Esmeralda said with a lot of confidence.
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