Reincarnated Princess Wishes To Avoid Death - Chapter 249
“That takes care of it, and then…”
Anne took a look around. She dropped her shoulders and let out a deep sigh.
“I…guess I’m done.”
Nina told her to prepare the last of the greens, and she did so. After that, she was done with her work. She never thought she’d be left alone on an island with no one else there.
She wasn’t at all ready for this situation, so she didn’t know what to do next.
“I wish that Milady were here. So, at least I’d have something to do. I could help her in so many ways…”
Their current environment was harsh, and she wished with all her heart that she could take care of Mia’s hair and skin ahead of time to protect them from the elements. In fact, she had to use all of her self-control not to worry about them all the time. Anne didn’t spare any trouble when it came to keeping Mia’s beauty up.
“But I do wonder… Where in the world did Lady Esmeralda go?”
She didn’t really like Esmeralda, but she didn’t want anything bad to happen to her either. Anne wasn’t mean by nature, and she really hoped they’d find Esmeralda safe and sound. This was especially true because even Mia, who complained a lot, still saw Esmeralda as a friend.
She was worried about where the girl was because of this.
“…Could she have really just gotten lost in the woods?”
But Anne had been thinking about one question ever since they found out Esmeralda was gone.
“I mean, it’s Lady Esmeralda… Could she have even left this cave on her own?”
Everyone just took it for granted that she had left the cave. She thought to herself, “She didn’t seem like the kind of person who would be brave enough to walk around in a forest by herself.”
Risk-taking and being brave went hand in hand. After all, you had to have a certain amount of courage to do something hasty.
Would Esmeralda have gone into the forest even if she had thrown a fit and stormed out?
Did she have the guts to do it?
“Maybe if it was milady, but her? I don’t think she would do something like that.”
Mia was sometimes a bit of a chicken, but when it came down to it, she was brave enough to step into the darkness, no matter how scary it looked.
At least, that’s what Anne thought.
The truth was something else. What she didn’t believe, though, was that Esmeralda could do the same. This could only mean one thing…
If no one could find her and she hadn’t left the cave, then…
“She must still be here somewhere…”
Anne’s first thought was that Esmeralda was hiding and having a good time while watching everyone freak out over her disappearance. It fit the stereotype of the snobby noble girl so well that Anne was almost sure she was right and felt a wave of real irritation.
A thorough search of the building, on the other hand, turned up no laughing Esmeraldas.
“Then she can’t be here, can she?”
She looked again just to be sure. She looked in every nook and cranny near the door, but she didn’t find anything. It wasn’t hard to look for them either. Even though the cave got bigger after the first opening, there weren’t many places to hide.
She was about to give up because she thought Esmeralda must have gone outside. Then she had another idea.
“Could she have gone further into the cave? And ended up getting stuck there?”
Things started to make sense to her, as if she’d found a missing puzzle piece.
Instead of going out into the dark forest, it seemed like a better idea to go deeper into the cave where everyone was sleeping.
The second one was still the same place, which gave a sense of safety.
“She was told not to go any further in, but high-ranking nobles seem to like to do the opposite of what they’re told…”
Anne knew that there were people with morals and integrity in the aristocracy, but when she heard the word “nobility,” she thought of arrogant lords and ladies who didn’t care what other people thought.
In a fit of haughty anger, Esmeralda’s idea to explore the depths of the cavern by herself sounded like the kind of foolish thing she would do.
“Mia and the others are already outside looking for her, no matter what.”
It wasn’t pointless to wait here alone, but it felt so…passive.
She didn’t want to just sit around and wait while everyone else searched the island, so she squared her shoulders and stared at the entrance for a few seconds before whispering, “I can’t be sitting here doing nothing while they’re all looking for her.”
She became more determined, and she took action. As a safety measure, she scratched a message into the ground in case Esmeralda did come back. Mia and the others would also know where she was when they got back.
“If I go further into the cave, I’ll also need a light source…”
She quickly went down to the beach where they had set up the smoke signals and took the rest of the thick branches that had been used to hold the cooking pot above the fire.
She found a piece of ivy in the forest and tied it together with a couple of other pieces. Then she put dry leaves and thinner twigs with more resin in one end. The ivy was too thick to use as fishing line, but it was perfect for keeping bundles of wood together.
She soon had a torch that she had made herself.
“All I have to do now is light it…”
She didn’t think much of it, thinking that as long as it gave off some light, it would be fine. But her improvised creation worked well, burning with a strong, steady flame.
She went back to the cave with the torch. As she moved deeper into it, though, its glow became much weaker and less comforting than before.
The darkness was so thick that it almost hid the flickering light from the small flame. Her grip on the torch got tighter, but she kept going.
She told herself, “She’s Milady’s friend. I need to find her…”
Inside the cavern, there were lots of twists, turns, and slopes of all different sizes. Some places were so small that she had to crawl through them. There were also places so big that even if she jumped, she couldn’t touch the ceiling. She kept going until she got to a place where stalactites hung down like icicles.
The way ahead got smaller, and she couldn’t see where it led.
“It seems to be going down, though… If I go down there, I might not be able to get back up…”
In front of her was a steep slope that went down into the earth. When she looked down, all she saw was darkness.
She turned around because she thought this was as far as she could go. And then turned around again right away. During the first turn, her eyes caught a glimpse of something strange.
There, near the top of the slope, was half a stalactite that was just close enough for her to reach if she put out her arm. Its exposed cross-section showed that the lower end had broken off.
She moved a little forward and looked at the broken end.
Nearby, there were a lot of rocks that looked like this one, but only this one had lost its point.
No sign of the missing piece could be found on the ground.
“This looks like it was right where I needed it to be… If someone tried to take it and…”
She thought about bending forward even more to look down the slope.
“Oh no! I need to tell everyone if she fell from here.”
Just as she was about to turn around, she heard a loud crack and then the sound of rocks falling.
She yelled and got down on her knees, bracing herself as she put her hands over her head.
There was no change.
After a few seconds of silence, she slowly looked up, covering her mouth and nose with her sleeve to keep the dust out.
As she picked up her torch and held it up again, she saw that the path she had used to get here was now blocked by a wall of rocks.
Her mind was full of fast-moving thoughts.
She couldn’t leave.
She may never leave.
She might die right here.
Her family would never see her again.
But one idea stood out more than the rest.
Milady, I will no longer be able to serve her… She has helped me so much, and I haven’t even started to pay her back…
Her tears made it hard to see.
The words made her feel like she was begging.
She said her boss’s name as if it were a prayer.
Then she stopped, shut her eyes, and took a deep, shaky breath.
“I need to take it easy… I work for Princess Mia as her maid.”
Mia said that she was her right hand and someone she could trust. If she even wanted to try to live up to what she said, she couldn’t just give up like that. The right hand of Mia wouldn’t just sit here and cry. It would make the Great Wisdom of the Empire look bad.
“More importantly, it would be disrespectful to all the hard work Mia has done.”
She again held her torch in front of her and pointed it forward.
Its light didn’t shine on the tunnel floor behind her, but down the slope into the darkness that was waiting.
“I’ve already come this far, so I might as well go on.”
It was too soon to quit and start crying. When her life was coming to an end and flashing before her eyes, she’d have plenty of time to do that.
“Wait for me, miss, I’ll find my way back…”
With that quiet whisper of determination, she started to slide down the hill.
Anne didn’t know it, but her dear mistress was the one who caused the cave-in.
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