Reincarnated Princess Wishes To Avoid Death - Chapter 341
The One Who Believes in Citrina’s Mushroom Heart
After following the wolf for a while, Mia found a creepy, deserted village. “This must be Bandoor Village, then,” she thought. Beyond the broken-down houses, red flames flickered from the centre of the village.
“That bonfire must be where Bel is being held,” she said with a heavy sigh as she got off her horse and patted Kuolan on the neck. “Stay on your toes, Kuolan. Or whatever toes are called on a horse. I want you to be ready to run at a moment’s notice.”
She didn’t say the last part:
Not that we’re likely to get the chance.
No matter how she imagined things going, rescuing Bel and riding away to safety with the two of them on Kuolan’s back just didn’t seem like a likely outcome.
Which is fine, I guess… In the end, my main goal here is to find out who is really behind all of this.
“Ah, Your Highness. You’re here!” All of a sudden, a voice as dark as the night came into her ears. It startled her. She turned to face the voice.
“Welcome to our temporary abode. We’re very happy to have you here. Oh? What kind of horse could that be?”
A woman did a stiff curtsy, clear of its insincerity.
“You,” Mia said when she realised she knew the woman. “You’re Miss Barbara. Which means…”
Barbara laughed. “Yes, that’s right. Please go this way. Oh, the horse can stay. You by yourself will be more than enough.”
“You’re not planning to have that wolf eat my horse, are you?”
“Don’t worry,” she said. “The wolf is well-trained, and it has been told over and over again not to eat horses.”
Mia reluctantly let go of Kuolan’s reins and said, “Well, I guess I should go. Listen, Kuolan. If things go south, you head south too, okay? Don’t wait.”
With that, she walked to the fire.
“Ah!” She saw Bel with her hands tied behind her back and a man in a mask standing next to a wolf.
Mia’s eyes, on the other hand, were drawn to the third person. “Ah… So it was you, Rina…”
Citrina stood next to Bel and said, “Hello, Your Highness,” with a sweet smile.
“I’m glad you made the long and hard trip here,” she said. She held her skirt delicately and curtsied.
“You’re too modest,” Mia said. “You went through a lot of trouble to invite me. The least I could do was to show up.”
During this strange back-and-forth, she kept thinking about the conversation she’d had with Ludwig at the end of last summer.
She really fooled me. I was told that the Yellowmoons weren’t to be trusted, but… What a terrible mistake I made!
Even though she was embarrassed by how easily she had been tricked, she still couldn’t bring herself to dislike Citrina. She thought…
What if there were special circumstances? Wasn’t it possible that she didn’t have a choice but to do what bad people told her to do? When I think back, it was because of her that Kayou was able to have her foal.
Citrina saved the day in a big way. If she hadn’t helped, things likely would have gone much worse.
Would someone like that… choose to do bad things?
Even though everything pointed to Citrina being bad, Mia kept looking for reasons not to believe it.
She grasped, but not because she was desperate but because of her conviction. After all…
Plus, Citrina likes mushrooms, and no one can be bad if they like mushrooms. So, she must be being forced to do this by something.
…She was sure that one of these straws would support the weight of her conviction. As the Mushroom Princess, she thought it was obvious that everyone who liked mushrooms was a good person. And Citrina had to be extra good because she knew so much about fungal knowledge.
Just so you know, Barbara wasn’t on the trip to look for mushrooms, so she didn’t count. Mia was sure that the old woman was evil all the way through.
But that means I have to make a hard choice… Can I put my trust in Citrina right now?
Extenuation was not the same thing as absolution. Citrina was part of the plot to take Bel, even if she didn’t want to be. But when it was time for her to make amends, her special circumstances would be important.
After all, if she was good at heart, she might be persuaded to join the group. After a short but intense moment of thought, Mia made her decision.
Alright. I’m giving it my all. No matter what happens, I’m going to keep believing in Rina until the end.
Her reasoning was, again, very simple:
No one can be bad if they like mushrooms. It’s not possible in the real world!
She knew this was true in her gut. It was like a sixth sense. You could call it a “mushroom sense.” She spoke up because this made perfect sense.
“Rina, I know you have your reasons for doing this,” she said. “That you don’t have a choice.”
Her voice was calm and sure, as if it came from a deep well of certainty. Mia looked at Citrina with a steady gaze.
And if I’m wrong and she’s really rotten to the core, well… Either way, I’m going to die here, so it doesn’t matter.
So, it became clear that her belief was based on the idea that decisions don’t matter. The Mushroom Princess was as strong-willed as her name! That is, it’s soft and squishy, and it’s a great dish for people who don’t have teeth!
Citrina froze. Even though Mia’s words were probably not true, that didn’t make them less powerful.
Citrina said after a long pause, her look of confidence turning into worry.
“Why you too? Why do you say the same things to Rina too?”
“Why, you ask? Because you wouldn’t do this on your own, of course. I believe in you, Rina.”
No one can be bad if they like mushrooms. Mia kept talking with confidence because she was sure that mushrooms could reveal people’s true selves.
“Talk to me, Rina,” she said. “Explain why. Aren’t you being forced to do this? I’m sure of it. You’re Bel’s friend. You wouldn’t do this on your own.”
“Miss Mia…” Bel’s face lit up a little at Mia’s words. “You’re right. I also thought it was strange. Rina wouldn’t be able to do this on her own. She must be being forced to do it by bad people.”
The young girl then glared at Barbara, who just shrugged as the look bounced off her. “Oh, how blessed are the ignorant. Mmm… I wonder what you’d think if you knew what milady has done.”
“No! Barbara, don’t!” begged a clearly upset Citrina.
Barbara rolled her eyes and then turned to Mia and said, “Why do you even ask such questions, Your Highness? Why would you want to know the answer? You won’t get out of here alive, after all.”
As she finished speaking, the wolf beside its master slowly stood up, like an executioner waiting for the signal. Mia’s heart jumped when she saw it.
She said the magic phrase quickly three times.
It’s better than Dion… It’s better than what Dion did… It’s even better than Dion!
After that, she was a little less scared. Mia’s little spell to get rid of fear seemed to work. It cost her a vision of Dion, whose eyebrow was raised in anger that his image was being used for her magic. She quickly pushed the scary image out of her mind.
Don’t be afraid, me! Even though this is dangerous, it’s nothing compared to Dion Alaia coming for my head!
She gave Barbara a bold smile and said, “My, that’s presumptuous of you. I could die here, but that wouldn’t be the end. I can do a lot with the answer after that.”
The way she looked at the old woman was a silent statement: “Like going back in time and ruining all your evil plans!”
“…Now, now. Your Highness, nobody likes a sore loser.”
“Am I being a sore loser, Barbara?”
In a way, she was. At least, mostly. There was no guarantee that she could go back in time. But Mia wasn’t a young bird without any feathers. She might be a chicken, but she had been to hell and back. So, she asked the question with her arms outstretched and her chest up.
“Maybe she was just playing for time then. But—”
Just as Barbara frowned in thought, she disappeared from view! No, not just her. Rather everything disappeared from her view. A suuden eruption of thick white smoke enveloped everything.
“What the—” said a confused Mia. Since she couldn’t see, her nose picked out a smell in the white smoke. It was faint but she recognized it… it was lucioluna grass. In particular, the herbs she’d used in her bath.
The next second, she was hit by something. “Yeeow!”
She shrieked and fell to the ground. When she looked up, she saw that the person who had hit her was…
…Bel, and her arms weren’t tied behind her anymore.
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