Reincarnated Princess Wishes To Avoid Death - Chapter 514
Onward To The Equestrian Kingdom!
With Abel’s arrival and Bel’s timely return with Sion and Keithwood in tow, Mia and all her friends gathered for breakfast together in the inn’s cafeteria. Interestingly, Bel’s return was so well-timed that she showed up exactly when the freshly baked bread emerged from the oven. Even Mia, who had anticipated the girl’s return for breakfast, couldn’t help but be impressed by her granddaughter’s ability to follow her nose.
Not that Mia’s own fondness for eating paled in comparison, mind you. Whether it was morning, noon, or night, she indulged whenever and wherever she pleased. Like grandmother, like granddaughter.
Furthermore, Rafina seemed to be aware of this fact, as evidenced by the generous portions brought to the table for breakfast. One plate held a substantial heap of freshly baked bread, accompanied by a large bottle of jam.
The sight pleased Mia, prompting her to reach for the bottle when Rafina interjected, “The jam is very good, of course, but the butter is no slouch either.”
Rafina’s comment made her reconsider. Though she initially intended to have some bread with jam—note the sequence of wording—perhaps…
“Oh? Is that so…?” she murmured.
After some thought, she spared a final longing glance at the jam before complying with Rafina’s suggestion and spreading the butter over the bread instead. The butter immediately began to melt on the hot bread, emitting a tantalizing, sweet aroma.
“Oooh… This is…”
Her appetite fully whetted, she took a big bite. With a satisfying crunch, a mouthful gave way.
The rich fragrance of milk wafted through her nose as creamy goodness filled her mouth. Every successive bite produced another crunch of bread, each followed by a delicious burst of butter. She let out a sigh of pleasure.
“This… is a marvel of gastronomy.” She devoured the rest of the bread and turned toward the innkeeper. “Please accept my compliments, master. The bread was baked to perfection, of course, but it’s this butter that truly stands out. I’ve never had butter this good…”
“I am overjoyed to hear that it was to your taste. This butter was, in fact, made with sheep milk.”
“My… Sheep, you say?”
“Yes, and it is procured from the Equestrian Kingdom. Their sheep produce extremely fine milk that tastes richer than milk from cows.”
“Really? I had no idea…” Mia nodded with fascination as she reached for another slice of bread and spread a thick layer of butter over one side. Then, she turned to Abel. “So, Abel, what brings you here so early in the morning?”
“Right, about that. Since we’re all here, I figured that we might as well head back together, though I won’t be able to join you for the whole trip.”
“Oh? What do you mean? Aren’t you heading back to Saint-Noel?”
“No, I’ve got some business to attend to. I’m thinking of paying Malong a visit.”
“My, Malong… So you’re going to the Equestrian Kingdom?” Mia frowned. Crunch. Crunch. “Speaking of which, the Kingdom of Remno has some ties with the Equestrian Kingdom, right?”
“Yeah. My kingdom puts a lot of effort into our military drills, and we have an arrangement with the Equestrian Kingdom to dispatch instructors to us for our warhorse training. Of course, the purpose of this training is to use horses as instruments of war, so they’ve never been particularly enthusiastic to comply…”
“Ah, right. That’s to be expected, I suppose.”
Mia, having sufficient knowledge about the Equestrian Kingdom, could anticipate their reservations about the purpose of the arrangement.
“So, I’ve actually known Malong for a long time, and a while back, I got a letter from him saying there was something he wanted to discuss…” said Abel.
“Hmm… I see.” Mia frowned in thought, summoning a mental map of the local geography.
The Equestrian Kingdom had no concept of borders. It consisted of twelve clans, and ten of those clans would take their main assets—sheep—with them as they roamed around the vast grassy plains south of Sunkland between the Holy Principality of Belluga and the Kingdom of Remno. Due to their nomadic nature, while that general area in which they roved could be considered the kingdom’s territory, it lacked well-defined borders.
The remaining two clans were known as townwardens. One was permanently settled in the north capital near Sunkland, and the other in the south capital near Remno. As their title suggests, they were charged with defending the two settlements.
Once every few years, a clan council would be held in one of the capitals, during which the clans would assess the state of the grassland and discuss their respective movement plans for the future.
Remember the self-preservation scheme Mia had concocted in case Sunkland invaded Tearmoon? The one that involved befriending Remno so they could hit back at Sunkland with a pincer attack? The fact that the Equestrian Kingdom existed between the other two had not been lost on her. She’d given the thought of establishing some sort of friendship with the Equestris plenty of thought, as their high-skilled cavalry was something she absolutely wanted on her side.
Not that it matters a whole lot now, of course, since it doesn’t look like Sunkland is going to be invading us any time soon.
In any case, she now understood Abel’s situation. Since they were headed for Saint-Noel, it was certainly possible to drop by the Equestrian Kingdom along the way.
“Hmm… The Equestrian Kingdom…” she murmured as she glanced at the bread she was holding.
Well, the bread she’d been holding, because for some mysterious reason, it was nowhere to be found!
“Huh?” She raised an eyebrow at her breadless hand. How odd. Where did it—
“Excuse me, milady…” Her train of thought was interrupted by Anne, who discreetly leaned in and wiped the corner of Mia’s mouth. As she pulled away, Mia caught a glimpse… of a bread crumb on the handkerchief! “Hmmm…”
She then looked at the table, where more of the fresh-baked bread lay. After contemplatively narrowing her eyes, she reached for another slice and quickly applied a smooth layer of butter. Another round of crunchy crunching followed.
Hmm… It’s just so good. Honestly, if we’re going to pass by the Equestrian Kingdom, it might be a good idea to stop and talk to them about procuring some of this butter. If she, with Ludwig’s help, could get them to do business with the empire as well… She’d have access to this delicacy for breakfast every morning! With lips pursed in overeager calculation, Mia eyed Sion.
“I’ll have to run the idea by Esmeralda and Tiona too… Actually, Esmeralda has Echard with her, so she probably can’t make any detours. On that note, Sion, what’s going on with Tiona? I was told by Keithwood yesterday that she spent the night at the castle.”
“About that… There’s something that happened for which I owe you an apology.”
“Oh, do you? What for?”
“Miss Tiona, you see, wasn’t feeling too well. She… was exposed to some chilly air, and I suspect she might have caught a cold.”
“My, is that…? Hm? But wait… Then why do you owe me an apology?” Mia asked with unwitting pointedness. “I was going to ask her to join us for our girls’ party last night, so I went looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found. Are you telling me she was at your place?”
“Hm? Oh, uh, well… I suppose so. Father wished to thank her in person, so he asked her to stay,” Sion answered with an odd sense of nervousness.
“Huuuuh.” Mia’s gaze lingered curiously on Sion for a second. “I see. So that’s why.”
“Anyway, the point is that she’s a little sick, so we figured we’d have her stay a little longer. It’ll give her time to recover, and we can treat her to some more of our amenities as both an apology and thanks. I don’t want to keep the rest of you, though, so I’m planning to arrange for a ride back to Saint-Noel for everyone at Sunkland’s expense.”
If Tiona wasn’t feeling well, it would be unreasonable to force her to come along to the Equestrian Kingdom. At the same time, Abel had matters to discuss with Malong, so he couldn’t afford to linger in Sunkland. As Mia weighed her options, her wandering gaze stopped on Bel, who was munching on bread like she didn’t have a care in the world. Despite having left Ludwig in charge of Bel’s education, she didn’t seem to have done much studying since coming to Sunkland.
I can already see her struggling on her future exams. I’d better get her out of Sunkland as soon as possible.
Her mind made up, Mia nodded. “Very well. In that case, I’ll leave my dear friends in your hands. Do make sure they are taken care of.”
“Of course. They will be afforded every luxury,” Sion answered with a nod.
Just as they thought they had concluded the discussion, Rafina interjected with her own comment. “If you’re planning to make a stop at the Equestrian Kingdom, then I’ll join you.”
“Miss Rafina, you will?”
“Now that I’ve discussed the Sunkland issue with His Majesty, I need to inform the Equestrian Kingdom of our conclusions. There’s a lot of information I need to communicate, including the situation with the potential Serpent, so I’d prefer to speak to them in person.”
“I see. It looks like we’ll be showing up in a big group… Oh, in that case, why don’t we get some horse riding practice on the way there?” Mia suggested in a flash of inspiration.
“Huh? B-But that’s…” Rafina stammered, caught off guard by the sudden idea.
Mia couldn’t resist a private grin at the sight.
Oh, Miss Rafina. I bet she’s scared of getting on a horse. Oho ho, I never knew she could be such a child. How adorable.
Feeling a sense of duty as the veteran equestrian, she put a fist to her chest, determined to allay the fears of her new apprentice.
“Oho ho, don’t worry. I’ll show you the ropes. As long as you follow my instructions, you’ll be riding in no time.”
“Well, if you so strongly insist… I’m looking forward to learning from you then,” said Rafina, who played with her fingers as a faint sheen of pink engulfed her cheeks.
Why was Sion oddly nervous in mentioning that Tiona stayed at the castle overnight…
Rafina to Mia, is like Citrina to Bel.
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