Princes Mia, Towed

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Esmeralda smile so sincerely before…”

Mia spoke to herself in a whisper after Esmeralda went under the water. It had been a real smile, not tainted by fear or bad will. Mia felt uneasy about it, though.

She didn’t know why, but she was uncomfortably reminded of the day long ago when Esmeralda had promised to host another tea party…

When they last said goodbye, didn’t she have the same smile on her face?

“That day, she seemed oddly reliable… Just as she did just now… It’s a little scary how similar they are.”

Five minutes passed.

Mia was worried. “I wonder if she’s okay.”

Anne gave her a smile. “Don’t worry, milady. Only five minutes have passed. We should believe in Lady Esmeralda.”

“Y-Yes, I suppose you’re right…”

Ten minutes passed.

“Is she really all right? Oh, I hope she didn’t do something stupid and hurt herself.”

“Don’t be anxious, Mia. Esmeralda can swim circles around us all. She can take care of herself,” Abel said in a tone that made it clear he was trying to reassure her.

The slow, solemn nod he received in response, however, suggested efficacy had been limited. After that, Mia stopped talking to people as much.

At half an hour, she looked like she was about to cry, with her haunted eyes fixed on the still surface of the water. The longer she waited, the more time she had to think of all the bad things that could have happened.

What did it mean if someone went out to look at a place like this and then didn’t come back? It was easy to figure out.

Her worried mind was filled with thoughts of death, which were made worse by the thought of Esmeralda’s gentle smile before she disappeared…

Mia thought about how she felt about Esmeralda. She didn’t think of the girl as her best friend, and that was true. At best, she fell into the category of “I guess we’re friends.”

But the more she thought about it, the more she saw that they really did know each other.

They had spent a lot of time together because she had hosted Mia’s first tea party and sent her birthday party invitations every year. She always made sure to be at Mia’s birthday parties, too. They always celebrated these events together.

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Every once in a while, they’d even have dresses made that matched. They’d laugh as they shared clothes and fun, but these times were getting rarer as Mia’s schedule got busier. Even though she didn’t think Esmeralda was her one and only soul mate, they were good friends in the end.

Good enough that it hurt to lose her and made her cry.

“Ooooh, Esmeralda, you…”

Mia said between sniffles, “Y- You said you’d be back in a minute, so where are you? Oh, I hate you so much. You’re a terrible person… I-I can’t believe you would break your promise to me again…”

After an hour, Mia had turned into a blubbering mess of tears. She cried freely, and the trails of her tears had just dried when new ones started to flow in their place. She sobbed loudly as Anne hugged her and patted her back gently.

Just as Anne’s floodgates were about to open, there was a big splash and a loud gasp of air behind them.

They all turned to look for Esmeralda, who had just come up out of the water.

“Wow, I’m sorry for making you wait so long, but I’m back now,” she said, completely oblivious to the mood in the cave.

The water exercise seemed to have helped her health, and both her skin tone and her enthusiasm seemed to shine.

“It might take about five minutes to get outside from here. We’ll have to dive for a while in one spot, but don’t worry. It’s not too long, so even Miss Mia should be able to do it.”

She got out of the water and walked toward them. The drops of water running down her face looked the same as Mia’s, but they were different.

When no one spoke up, she turned her head to the side.

“What?”

She took a look around.

“Is there something wrong? Why am I feeling so strange?”

Mia muttered, “You really took your time, didn’t you?” as she walked over with her head down to hide how she felt.

“Oh. Yes, well…”

Esmeralda put the pendant on her chest and held it out.

“I was using my moonlamp rock to get some light. Without some light, the path is a little hard to find. Also, the water was pretty cold, so I decided to warm up on this rock, which was in the perfect spot for a quick sunbath. What’s wrong, Miss Mia?”

Mia wrapped her arms around Esmeralda and squeezed her as if her life depended on it.

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“You know, I was worried. So, so upset! I thought I wouldn’t see you ever again…”

“M-Miss Mia?”

Esmeralda was shocked at first and stood still, but she soon relaxed.

“Don’t worry, Miss Mia. I won’t ever let my best friend down. And I won’t break that promise. Not again…”

She smiled softly and gave him a hug back.

After everyone had calmed down, Esmeralda went on to explain what she had found.

“Like I said, it’s not that far, and you can’t get lost because the way out is straight. There are a few places where we’ll have to stay underwater for a while, but I think we’ll be fine if Miss Mia can get us through.”

Anne looked sad. She was a commoner, so she didn’t know how to swim even less than Mia did.

“Well, then Anne can come along with me. We’ll go together,” Esmeralda said without much thought.

Next to frown was Mia.

“You…you’re Esmeralda, right? Are you okay? Where did you hit your head?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Miss Mia! I just thought I could maybe be a little nicer to my best friend’s beloved maid,” she said, before her confidence slipped a little and she turned away.

“Well, she’s been pretty helpful… I mean, being of noble blood means that you have to pay back any help you get, right?”

Oh, Esmeralda, you have such a unique personality… Always so much trouble. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that we’re related. Mia then nodded to herself.

“Okay, Esmeralda, we’ll do what you say. Look after Anne for me, okay?”

They put themselves in a line and got ready to go. Esmeralda was in front, and Anne was right behind her. Abel and Mia were behind them.

As their anchorman, Abel would usually be last, but he had to stay in front of Mia for a reason.

“It’s starting to get deep here. I don’t think your feet will ever touch the ground again.”

“Understood!”

She nodded yes, turned around, and fell on her back with the efficiency of a soldier.

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She was wearing her swimsuit under her clothes, just like Esmeralda. Without her wet clothes getting in the way, Mia could do an impressively good back float.

Abel grabbed her collar as he walked through the water in front of her.

Yes, Abel stayed in front because he had to swim while pulling Mia with him! Even though they didn’t share the work equally, they made steady progress by following the light from Esmeralda’s pendant.

She had said that the path was easy enough for the whole group to pass through.

After a few places where they had to hold their breath and dive, they could see light in the distance.

“Everyone, we’re almost there! “Don’t stop!” Esmeralda yelled from the front of the line.

Mia felt better after she heard her words of support, so she worked harder by flapping her arms and legs around more.

“Ah—”

She covered her face when she suddenly saw a lot of light. A few seconds later, she felt a salty wind on her cheeks. She started to hear the rolling rumble of the tide in her ears.

Over time, her eyes got used to the blinding light, and a clear blue sky came into view.

“Aaah… We did it… We did it for sure. We made it out okay.”

Relief almost made her lose all of her strength. Or maybe it did happen.

When one is floating like a limp dishrag, it’s hard to tell.

She looked at each of her friends slowly. Esmeralda and Anne could be seen a little ways away.

Abel was right next to her.

I can’t believe it’s true. Everyone made it out alive. It’s like a dream.

That realisation was moving enough, but fate still had more strange things to happen.

“Ah! Look! It’s the Emerald Star!”

Esmeralda yelled with joy and pointed firmly at the familiar shape of their ship.

“We’re…saved? Does this mean we’re going to be OK?”

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Mia smiled as she answered her own question in a quiet voice.

The smile didn’t last long, though, because she would soon be forced to read a certain part of the Princess Mia Chronicles, which told about the things that had happened to her on and around this deserted island.

Just below the calm surface of the water, a huge shadow showed up. It came up behind the unfortunate group of swimmers quickly, quietly, and without being seen at all…

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