Reincarnated Princess Wishes To Avoid Death - Chapter 513
“Um, Prince Sion, do you frequently take strolls around town like this?”
“I do. Whenever I’m in Sunkland, I make a conscious effort to traverse the streets regularly. As someone in a position of power, it’s my duty to gain a firsthand understanding of the lives and circumstances of my people.”
“While that is a noble aspiration, milord, I must once again remind you that you are working me to the bone here. Please start arranging for a proper escort of guards on your excursions before I collapse from exhaustion.”
Keithwood gave a weary shrug, to which Sion grinned.
“Thanks to the much-appreciated dedication of a highly capable attendant, I have the luxury of strolling through my kingdom at will. I must say, I’m not particularly inclined to give up such a convenience.”
“Well, I am. For the sake of my own well-being.”
For a considerable duration, Bel relished their banter until a thought crossed her mind. She tilted her head curiously.
“Prince Sion, is it just me, or… are you more cheerful than usual today?”
Caught off guard by the question, Sion blinked a few times.
“If I had to describe it, it feels sort of like… a weight has been lifted off your shoulders,” Bel added.
“Huh. How surprising. You’re more perceptive than I thought.” Sion leaned in and studied her face. “That reminds me, you’re related to Mia, aren’t you? Hm…”
He crossed his arms in thought. After a while, he asked, “I’m not sure if I should be asking this, so I’ll first apologize for any possible offense, but… I heard that you share her blood. Is that true? Are you imperial kin?”
Upon hearing the question, Bel immediately straightened, for it was no simple query; it concerned the very essence of her person and pride.
“Yes, Prince Sion. I am Miabel Luna Tearmoon. The blood that flows through my veins, I share with the princess of the empire, Mia Luna Tearmoon.”
The dignified gravity with which she answered left Sion momentarily dumbstruck. He widened his eyes, regarding anew the girl before him. Gone was the carefree aura she so frequently gave off, replaced by what could only be described as an air of regality.
“I see…” he said, recognizing the truth of her words. “In that case, it’s probably in your interest to tell you…” With a sigh, Sion proceeded to explain. “About what transpired last night. I assume you’ve already heard about it from Mia, but my brother, Echard, committed a grave error, and the one who’d caused him to do so… is me. For far too long, he has struggled with the fact that he couldn’t become a second Sion. From his swordsmanship to his deportment and much more… In all those facets, he has been trying to catch up to me, convinced that he must do so or else be deemed a failure.”
“That’s… That’s just not right. He can’t become you. He shouldn’t.” Bel recalled the teachings of her former mentor, Ludwig.
“Miss Bel… For what will undoubtedly be the rest of your life, you will find that time and again, you will be compared to the Great Wisdom of the Empire. People will wish for you—expect you—to become her. Even your foster parents, Anne and Elise, might eventually push you to do so. In fact, even I myself might succumb to the inclination.”
The future Ludwig described was, in a way, a hopeful one. With the triumphant return of Princess Miabel to the throne, the empire would be rebuilt under her leadership. Of all the challenges one could face, that was probably the most promising one, lying far down a very narrow path of possibility.
“However, remember this well: There is no need for you to become her. You are you, Miss Bel. You cannot become Mia, not because of a lack of effort or will, but because you are Miabel.”
She could still hear the reflective tone of his voice as he had said that, almost as if the caution had been meant for himself.
“That’s why… Well, I suppose that’s why there’s nothing I can do about your tendency to fall asleep during lectures…”
In that moment, the struggling camel that was Ludwig’s pedagogic soul came within a single straw of breaking.
“Anyway, just… try your best within the limits of your capabilities, Miss Bel. That will surely be what’s best for you.”
Those words had deeply embedded themselves within Bel and taken root. She must live in a way that did not tarnish the reputation of Mia, the Great Wisdom of the Empire. However, she did not need to imitate Mia. Based on this reasoning that Ludwig had instilled in her, Echard’s approach to his life was undoubtedly incorrect.
“He’s just… him. He’s Prince Echard,” said Bel.
“Yes… I agree. I was hoping he’d come to that realization on his own eventually, but, well… Look what happened. My inaction has led us all to the very worst result. But…”
Sion paused for a moment as his gaze grew distant. “Normally, what he did would absolutely warrant the death penalty. But Mia… She refused to settle for that—for an irreparable end. So she fought, and by doing so, won Echard the chance to make amends. To pick himself up and stand again.”
His statement prompted Bel to clap her hands in sudden comprehension.
“Oh, I get it now. So that’s what happened yesterday… Oh! Then that’s also what you were talking about with Miss Mia in the ballroom last night, right?”
“…Hm?” Sion’s arched eyebrow was lost on Bel, who was too busy nodding to herself.
“I knew it. That conversation felt odd to me the whole time. I mean, she turned down a declaration of love from you. I mean, who does that? You’re Prince Sion! She’d have to be crazy. Right, Keithwood?”
Keithwood’s lips formed a strained smile. “Ha ha ha, well, uh… I suppose so. It’s a…complicated affair, after all. Anyway…” He stole a glance at Sion, who groaned while clutching his chest, before continuing. “The bottom line is, milord was pleased to see that his brother had been given a chance to redeem himself. Isn’t that right?”
“R-Right… Yes, that’s what I meant,” Sion agreed despite his pained grimace. “The truth is that… I also made a serious mistake in the past.”
“Huh? You did? But you’re Prince Sion!” exclaimed Bel, her wide-eyed disbelief clearly implying, ‘Prince Sion doesn’t make grave errors!’
His grimace deepened.
“I wielded my own sense of justice like a sword, oblivious to its dangers and wrongs, and as a result, I nearly took the life of a friend. And when I was on the verge of succumbing to the weight of my sins, Mia came to me and, much like with Echard, gave me an opportunity to redeem myself,” said Sion, his gaze shifting upward with nostalgia. “She did me a great favor then, and I remind myself every day never to forget the debt of gratitude I owe her. Faced with my error, I believed that my royal status required me to forfeit my life as recompense. It was her who showed me a different way to take responsibility for my wrongs. The second chance she afforded me that day is something that I now believe every person in the world deserves.”
Sion balled his fists.
“If you are indeed a scion of the imperial family, then remember this: the one thing Mia is terrible at is giving up. That’s just the kind of person she is.”
“Not giving up easily… That’s the way of Miss Mia…” Bel repeated in a whisper before looking back over her shoulder.
A vision of that death-defying dash across the winter plains resurfaced. It was the same back then. Mia had defiantly, stubbornly refused to give up on life. She was bad at giving up on others, yes, but she was also bad at giving up on herself.
That lines up with what Grandmother Mia said after coming back from Perujin. A lot of people have done a lot for me, and she told me that if I want to pay them back, I should pursue the best life possible and live up to their kindness by living for myself.
To Bel, it felt like Mia was telling her to endure and survive, no matter the circumstances. To cling to life with dogged determination, and in doing so, repay the services of compassion she’d received. Suddenly, she was reminded of where she’d come from.
That world of despair… What if one day, the time came for her to return to that desperate, desolate life? How would she act then?
I don’t know, but even if I have to go back to that place, there’s one thing I should make sure I don’t do… and that’s giving up and letting myself go.
Life, its weight, its value, and how it should be used, as well as the stubborn resolve to never give up on living… These were the things she learned from her idol, the Libra King.
While Bel was absorbing valuable life lessons, Mia found herself… being rescued from the gap between the beds.
“Huh… Bel’s nowhere to be found, you say?” she inquired after her liberation, which Anne kindly waited for before delivering the news.
Mia felt a sudden pang of concern. What if Bel had experienced the same fate as her? Just as she was about to conduct a frantic search of the remaining gaps…
“I heard from the innkeeper that she is apparently out on a walk with Prince Sion.”
Rafina provided the answer she sought.
“Ah. With Sion. I see…”
That was all the information Mia needed to deduce the sequence of events leading to Bel’s absence.
I bet she walked out of the inn, ran into Sion, and just followed him around from there on…
“I can’t believe she went off on her own,” protested a pouting Citrina. “She could have asked Rina to go with her.”
Mia gave her a reassuring smile. “I’m sure she’ll be back by breakfast. I know that girl, and she’s just like me in that she won’t miss a meal for the world.”
Hearing that Bel was with Sion, Mia relaxed. Tension flowed out from the muscles in her shoulders. And the ones around her gut. As a result, her stomach gurgled.
Hm, maybe I can start eating breakfast while I wait— The thought was interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Excuse me, Miss Rafina. A guest has arrived.”
“A guest? Who is it?”
A roomful of puzzled gazes focused on the door, which swung open to reveal…
“Hey, Mia. Good morning. And greetings to all you fine ladies too.”
Abel Remno, who strode in with a charming smile.
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