Esmeralda Disappears After Saying, “I’ll be Right Back.”
“Well, I have to get out of here, even if it’s just to go to Esmeralda’s tea party… Anne, how did the two of you get here Why are you even down here”
After convincing Esmeralda with just words, Mia started to think about how things were going.
“Yes, about that…”
After Anne told her story, Mia sighed.
“So that’s how it went.
And there’s no way to go back”
She was happy to hear that Anne had come in a different way, but was sad to hear about the cave-in.
I don’t think we’ll be able to get rid of all the rocks.
Also, we’ll have to climb up a pretty steep hill,” Anne said, giving Esmeralda’s ankle a quick glance.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be able to go back the way I came.
What about you, milady”
“In fact, we were also caught in something like a cave-in.
The ground just gave way beneath us.”
Mia thought about where they had stopped.
“The thought of climbing back up to that hole in the ceiling gives me the creeps.”
It doesn’t make sense, especially since Esmeralda is hurt,” Abel said.
“That cave in the back did also go in the opposite direction…”
Anyone could guess where it would lead.
“Anyway, let’s first look around this shrine to see if there are any ways out.
I think we should go back to where we first landed if we can’t find any.
What do you think”
When their “survival expert” made a suggestion, the group nodded.
This could be seen as a sign of bad things to come, so it was good that Anne spoke up after a short pause.
“Um, milady, may I suggest that we take a short break Lady Esmeralda’s foot still hurts, and you look a little tired yourself.”
Mia yawned almost right on cue.
I agree with you.
Then let’s take a short break before getting back to work.”
After a short nap, the group went outside to look around the shrine.
Well, everyone else’s nap was short, so they went off to explore the place on their own while Mia had a much longer one.
At the end, they found that there were only two ways to get here.
Anne took one way, and Mia took the other.
“I wonder if that other path in the cave leads out.
I sure hope so,” said Mia when she woke up and joined the rest of the group.
With few choices left, the group went back to the cave where Mia and Abel had fallen in, hoping that there might still be a way out.
When they got there, Abel pointed to the water.
On the way here, it was already pretty high, but now it’s even higher.”
He had a point.
Where the water used to only reach their ankles, it now goes up to their knees.
Then there is still hope.
If it goes up and down with the tide, it must go out to sea,” Mia said.
Esmeralda got on her knees and reached for a handful of water.
“Yes, this is seawater for sure.
There’s a good chance it’s linked to the outside.”
She looked up at the ceiling and then around at the other people in the room.
“I think we should wait a while before trying to leave.
I’ve heard that the sea is very dangerous at night.”
On Esmeralda’s advice, they decided to take another break.
To keep warm in the cold cave, they huddled together.
This feeling of cold… I think of the dungeon when I see it.
Ha ha, how odd.
This seems like fun.
Even though Mia was hungry, she found that she was beginning to enjoy herself.
May the moons be kind to us, and may we all remember this fondly as a fun summer adventure…
Soon, light started to come in through the hole in the ceiling, which meant it was morning.
Strangely, the blue light in the water went away quickly after that.
I wonder if it’s because of tiny creatures that only light up at night.
That made a problem for them.
Even though there was light in the cavern, the path ahead was now dark.
Sunlight couldn’t get any further into the tunnel.
They could bring a torch, but once they were underwater, it wouldn’t help much.
“I knew we would need this someday!”
Esmeralda took the pendant from around her neck and held it up with pride.
The stone in it gave off a soft glow.
“This will give us some time to see.
We don’t know what’s ahead, so I’ll go ahead and check out the way.
It looks like we’ll have to swim, so I’m the best person for the job.”
She threw off her clothes with a flourish, revealing the swimsuit she’d been wearing since she went swimming in the spring.
Then she started to put her feet in the water.
“Wait, let me go.”
Abel ran to get in her way.
“You can stay here and rest a little longer, ladies.”
Esmeralda looked at him, making sure to look down her nose as she did so.
“No, Prince Abel, I don’t think so.
Here’s how I see it.
Would you say you’re a good swimmer”
“Well, maybe not a good one, but I can swim,” he said, but he didn’t seem to believe his own argument.
Esmeralda laughed like she had won.
So stay here like a good little prince and let me take care of this.
I’d like you to know that I’ve been swimming every summer since I was a child.”
“But even so, I can’t let a woman like you put herself in danger in this way.”
“Thank you for caring, Prince Abel, but you might want to learn more about your position.”
“Position What position”
She laughed at how confused he looked.
“Is it necessary to ask Of course, your role as Miss Mia’s future husband.”
“Future hus- What!”
He stiffened in shock, which made her laugh even louder.
“Miss Mia is both my best friend and my princess.
As a proud Etoiline, I won’t let anyone put her husband in danger.
There’s no way that could happen.
This matter is also very important for Miss Mia’s safety.
Failure is not an option, so delegating would not be a good idea.”
Anne, who had been listening to the conversation, was the next person to raise her hand.
“What about your ankle, Lady Esmeralda”
“Huh Ankle Wha— Oh…”
Esmeralda was upset, and all of a sudden, she seemed to find something very interesting about the ceiling.
“Uh, I forgot about it completely! How odd! Um, Anne, I think your treatment must have worked…”
Mia gave her a raised eyebrow because of that.
“Wh-What Does that bother you, Miss Mia” she asked defensively.
Mia looked at her for a moment before she smiled.
“No, absolutely not.”
She then bowed deeply and said, “Thank you, Esmeralda.
I’m happy to put myself in your skilled hands.”
That made it easier for Esmeralda to get back into her normal routine.
She smiled back and told him, “And you won’t be let down.
I promise that I’ll bring you good news when I get back.
Then, when we get home safely, I’ll finally be able to invite you to that very fancy tea party I’ve been waiting so long to throw!”
Even though it’s usually not a good idea to promise to keep long-awaited promises after doing something very dangerous, Esmeralda did it with her head held high, not caring at all that she might have had just raised a flag.
Then she probably did something she’d never done before.
Her face softened into a smile that was neither sly nor proud, but kind and sincere…
“Don’t be afraid.
I’ll be back right away.”
Her words were as empty as the room they were in, and her anxious eyes kept staring at the still surface of the water she had just jumped into.
Well, she didn’t come back right away.