Reincarnated Princess Wishes To Avoid Death - Chapter 253
Anne Talks About (Her Version of) the Wisdom of the Empire.
The cavern was dark, and the only sound in the suffocating silence was a sneeze.
“Oh, woe is me… Am I going to die here?”
Esmeralda sat leaning against a rock with her legs stretched out in front of her. She held her pendant, which was just barely glowing, in her hands. She tried weakly to lift her right foot, but the pain made her give up, and she let it fall limp again.
“Ooooh, it hurts… It’s so painful…”
She whimpered again.
“I must’ve broken a bone. It’s most probable. I’ll never get out of here… I’m going to starve and die. Oooooh…”
When Esmeralda was sad and in pain, she was even more annoying than usual. She was a handful right now. With tears in her eyes, she looked hopelessly into the vast void in front of her… and gasped when a faint red light came into view.
She stopped herself from screaming, but she couldn’t stop her mind from running wild. Her mind made her think of her own scary story, in which the ghosts of evil cultists walked around a deserted island. It scared her, but she quickly got over it and decided that such nonsense couldn’t be true.
Also, the red light was coming from the direction of the cave entrance, which could only mean…
“Nina?! Who’s that? Did you come to rescue me?”
As the figure got closer, she could see that it was wearing a maid’s uniform, which made her more sure that she was right.
“Oh good. I was sure. I can’t die here. That wouldn’t be right at all. “It’s obvious that Ni—I mean, my maid is coming to save me.”
She waited as the figure with the light got closer and closer.
“Oh! Lady Esmeralda, are you okay?”
The maid that appeared had red hair that hung in two long tails on either side of her body. It was Anne.
“Huh, Ann— Ahem. You are. Miss Mia’s maid.”
Esmeralda wasn’t too upset when she found out it wasn’t Nina, but she was a little bit. When she heard that help had come, she was so happy she was almost beaming.
She stood up because of the thrill. She yelled out as pain shot up her leg in a split second.
“Lady Esmeralda? Are you hurt?”
“Ow, um, yes. When I fell down that slope, I think I hurt my ankle. The bone must be broken, I think.”
“Oh no! That’s awful! Quick, please take a seat! And put your legs out.”
“Hmph, I guess I can do this one thing for you since you’re Miss Mia’s maid. Be grateful. I’ll do what you say this one time and this one time only.”
Even with her arrogant tone, she was sitting down before she was done talking. She stood with her legs spread out and watched Anne kneel down next to her hurt foot.
“Oh? Do you know how to care for wounds? I’m a little bit impressed.”
“Once, my younger brother broke a bone.””
“Oh my, you’re not much more than a beginner. I guess I did something stupid. It’s clear that you can never ask too much of a common person.”
Even as she criticised Anne for not knowing much about medicine, she felt more and more relieved. Even a little bit of experience was better than none.
When she thought about it, her pain seemed to go away a little.
“Is it very painful?”
“It most definitely does. I can’t even stand up because it hurts so much. I’m telling you, it’s broken. It’s got to be.”
“Hm… Let me check it out. Excuse me.”
Anne put her hand on Esmeralda’s ankle and felt around. Then she cut a piece of fabric from the hem of her skirt and started wrapping it around the ankle to stop it from moving.
“H-How is it?” Esmeralda asked with worry.
“It doesn’t work, does it?”
“No, the bone doesn’t seem to be broken. Even though the area is bruised… Avoid moving your ankle as much as possible.”
With each answer, Esmeralda felt less worried. Even more of the pain went away. She felt so good that she was pretty sure she could already stand up and walk on her own. She wasn’t hard to understand at heart.
“By the way, why did you come here all by yourself? Keithwood told us that going further into the cave is dangerous. Why didn’t you listen?” asked Anne.
“Are you trying to get me to shut up? You? A commoner?”
Esmeralda made an indignant sound.
“You know, you shouldn’t let this ‘Miss Mia’s maid’ get to your head.”
She made her voice sound a little bit angry. Usually, that would be enough to get Nina and the other maids to stop talking. It didn’t work on Anne. For her, it was more like putting oil on fire.
“Okay, listen up, you,” Anne said, sounding like she had had enough. “Let me be clear about one thing. I don’t care about what happens to you. Go and roll down as many hills as you like. I couldn’t really care less. But could you please do it so that it doesn’t bother milady? She is interested in you. She’s probably still very worried about you. If you went and did something stupid and got hurt, it would break her heart… Are you really that stupid? Do you know how many problems you’ve caused?”
Anne’s outburst left Esmeralda stunned. She swallowed and blinked a few times after a short time. As soon as she came to, a wave of hot anger went through her head.
“Huh?! You—” Esmeralda exclaimed, bristling. “You think you can talk to me that way and not get in trouble? Oh, I’ll remember this! I’ll tell Miss Mia how rude you were. I’ll tell the King! They’ll—”
“Once we figure out how to get out of here, you can tell whoever you want.”
That made them blink again, looking confused.
“How do I leave this place? What do you mean by the word ‘how’? You just came here. We’ll go back the way you came.”
“There’s nothing in that direction. A cave-in happened. We can’t go back the way that I came. Right now, our only hope is that there will be a way out soon…”
“What?! Y-You— Still, that’s… That is so mean! You bring me here, raise my hopes, and then just take them all away? Y-You…monster! How can you treat me like this?”
Esmeralda, who was getting more and more upset, cried out.
Anne gave her a mean look, and Esmeralda made a scared noise before going quiet.
“Lady Esmeralda, we’re going to have to work together if we want to get out of here alive. So, I need you to pay attention to what I say and not do anything stupid or risky.”
After some pouting and whining, Esmeralda gave in.
“…You don’t have to treat me so badly. F-Fine, I’ll do as you say.”
“Okay, that’s fine. I’ll try to find a way out. For now, you should stay here and wait for me. I’ll come back for you, I promise.”
Anne turned around and started to go.
“Wh-What? Wait! Don’t abandon me! A-Anne!”
Anne stopped mid-step.
She slowly turned around and looked at him with a strange look on her face. Esmeralda didn’t like it. She felt like something was stuck to her face. She got a little weak and turned her head down to avoid Anne’s searching eyes.
“Lady Esmeralda, you know my name, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. How could you think I don’t? Do you think I’m stupid?”
Anne’s eyebrow went up.
“Hey! What does that even mean?!”
“I’m just surprised. That’s it.”
“‘Surprised’?! So you really do think I’m stupid! Of everything—”
“Oh, no, that’s not it. I don’t think you’re stupid, but the fact that you know my name does surprise me. I didn’t think it was possible for you to remember names.”
“I can remember people’s names, of course. All of them are yours, Nina’s, and Keithwood’s. I’m offended that you actually thought I couldn’t.”
“So why do you act like you don’t know them? I don’t care much either way, but Nina is so sad. How can you treat her that way?”
Esmeralda answered with her head held high this time.
“Because, of course, that’s what it means to be a noble.”
She had been taught to do it this way.
The rich should not worry about what the names of the poor are. Trying to remember the rabble is both a waste of time and a disservice because it clouds your judgement. As His Imperial Majesty’s most reliable subjects, we rule our lands in his service, and we must always make decisions with a clear head and good sense.
The noble must never forget to thank their ancestors. As loyal subjects of His Imperial Majesty, we respect the history and culture of his empire and are proud of them. Because you carry the Etoile, you deserve the best of everything. Don’t accept anything less, and don’t say “thanks.” Accept that which is normal with normality.
Esmeralda learned from her father and did everything he told her to do. She changed herself to fit around them and was sure that was how she was meant to live.
That’s why Mia’s behaviour kept making no sense to her.
“If anyone is strange, it’s Miss Mia. What does she think about our proud history as nobles?”
“And that’s exactly why I’ve dedicated my life to her,” Anne said with the same amount of conviction, which made Esmeralda look at her strangely.
“She addresses me by name. She is nice to me and takes care of everyone in my family. I’ll do anything for her because of this. I know she’ll cry for me if I die. Because she is that kind of person, I would even die for her. But I’m not going to because I don’t want her to cry. I don’t want to die in this dumb cave.”
This strong statement shook Esmeralda to her core. She looked at the maid as she thought about what was being said. Anne had said she was ready to give up her own life.
That was a sign of deep love, but Esmeralda didn’t lack people like that. Didn’t she? She started to have a tiny bit of doubt. Even though she seemed sure, she couldn’t really convince herself that Nina and the guards would both give their lives for her.
Anne had even said that she would choose to live, even if it meant Mia wouldn’t cry, even though she was ready to die.In the cave’s endless, suffocating darkness, where it would have been natural to give up, her determination seemed to shine even brighter than her torch.
If Esmeralda had servants, would they do the same for her? Was she as clear in their minds as Anne’s friend Mia was?
Would Nina cry for me if I died?
She couldn’t help but think that Nina wouldn’t, though. But what really scared her was…
Would I be able to hold back my tears if Nina died? Not to be sad? If I ever had to give Nina’s life up, would I be able to do it?
Doubt grew until it filled her whole mind. It was a philosophical crisis because it made her question who she was. Esmeralda had been acting like she didn’t see any bad in the world.
She had used the rules of nobility as a way to avoid feeling, hiding behind their strict rules so she didn’t have to. So she wouldn’t feel sad.
Anne then tore apart her weak excuses.
“Not addressing people by name… Not seeing them as real people… So that if you ever have to leave them, you won’t feel as bad… That’s just so sad. Only a coward would do that. Milady doesn’t want to abandon anyone. It hurts her just to think about it. So she does what? She works hard so she won’t have to. People call her the Great Wisdom because of this. We all look up to her because of this.”
“The Great Wisdom…”
Esmeralda felt something she had forgotten about.
She had been confused by Mia’s actions for a long time, thinking they were rude and silly. But even so…
“I’m going to be honest with you, Lady Esmeralda. You have to come with me if you don’t want to stay here. But I won’t stop for you, so if you want to keep up, you’ll have to. So, do you want to come with me?”
Anne asked in a way that sounded like she was giving an order. Esmeralda was lost in thought when someone asked her a question. She quickly put the thought away because she knew that now was not the time to think about herself.
She slowly got to her feet after giving her a small nod.
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