"PLEASE don't leave me, Brother," Neoma said desperately. [Gosh, what am I saying]
It looked like she had gotten attached to Nero more than she liked.
[Am I softie inside]
"Neoma, I'll be back before you know it," Nero promised her. Then, he touched her face. "I will write to you as often as I could. His Majesty already asked for the Saint's permission to allow me to call you via Virtual Call twice a month."
'Virtual Call' was equal to modern time's "video call."
To perform a Virtual Call, there was a need for two pocket watches embedded with magic. If you put in the right "time" in the pocket watch, it would connect to the matching pocket watch. Then, the glass inside the pocket watch would act like a video camera where the owners of the pocket watches could see and hear each other.
[It's a very advanced magic in this world and so, each pocket watch that can function as a Virtual Call is very expensive. Only higher nobles can afford it for now.]
"Do we have a pocket watch, Brother" Neoma asked curiously. "Is Papa going to give us our own pocket watches"
"His Majesty already did," Nero said. Then, he pulled out the necklace that he was wearing from the inside of his dress. So, it wasn't a necklace. It was a golden pocket watch. "Here's mine." He pulled out another pocket watch from the pocket of his dress and wore it around her neck. "And that is yours."
"Our pocket watches are already set," her brother continued. "You just have to press the diamond inside to call me. To reject the call, press the ruby gem. And to receive my call, press the emerald gem. But only call me if it's an emergency, okay The Saint doesn't allow communication devices in the temple. Thankfully, His Holiness made an exception for me."
"Okay, Brother," she said, then her forehead knotted in confusion. "Brother, why are you dressed up as a girl"
"His Majesty was worried that there might be a spy in the Holy Hand," he explained. "To prevent the enemies from following me, His Majesty created a fake identity for me."
"Oh. Then, who would you be now"
"I will be known as 'Lady Nara Quinzel' from now on."
Her eyes widened in shock. "Q-Quinzel"
There was only one Quinzel clan in the empire and that was Duke Rufus Quinzel, the emperor's cousin on the mother side. It was also the duke who adopted her in her first life.
"Duke Rufus Quinzel, the emperor's cousin, adopted 'Nara Quinzel' so the fake identity I'm taking could have legal papers," Nero explained to her. "Duke Quinzel will also be my guardian from now on. In fact, his family even moved to Valmento so that they could visit me in the temple every weekend."
That fact didn't surprise her.
The source of this content is n/0v//elbin[.//]net'
Even in her first life, Duke Quinzel had been very loyal to Emperor Nikolai. The duke would go to any war if her father asked him to. Moving to Valmento with his family to be Nero's guardian was something she could see the duke doing for His Majesty.
And Emperor Nikolai probably promised the duke something as a reward.
[But wow, Nero and I definitely switched places for real.]
"Are you okay, Neoma" Nero asked worriedly. "You suddenly fell silent."
"I'm just wondering why His Holiness allowed you to fake your identity," Neoma lied. "I thought saints don't lie."
He laughed softly and pinched her cheeks. "Oh, my naïve little sister. Let's just say that the saint is doing this for the sake of the empire. After all, His Majesty intends to declare me as his official heir someday."
[Oh, to be a crown prince who's adored by the emperor just because he's a dude.]
"I don't really understand but I'm glad that you won't be alone," she said with a smile. "I hope you get along with His Grace and his child."
"How did you know that the duke has a child"
"Well, you said he moved with his family," she said as an excuse. "I assumed that the duke has a child."
"My Neoma is really smart," he said while patting her head gently. "You're right. Duke Quinzel has a daughter around her age."
"Isn't that nice, Brother" she asked him. "You'll have another sister."
His face turned sour. "You're my one and only sister, Neoma. I have no relation with Duke Quinzel's daughter."
"What are you talking about, Brother" she asked between giggles. "Duke Quinzel is Papa's cousin. That means the duke's daughter is our second cousin."
"You're my only family, Neoma," Nero said in an eerily serious voice. Then, he touched her face while looking at her with a warm gaze. "Let's keep this goodbye short. It's not like we're not going to see each other again. I want to be healed as soon as possible so I need to go now. My Neoma is smart so she understands, right"
Neoma smiled and nodded. "Take care of yourself, Brother. I'll pray for your fast and safe recovery."
They ended their farewells with a tight and warm hug.
NEOMA was sad that she wasn't even allowed to send Nero off outside the palace.
She heard that Duke Quinzel came to pick him up. But since she was locked up in her room, she didn't even get a glimpse of the duke.
[I wanted to see Duke Quinzel again. The duchess may have been a terrible mother to me. But the duke treated me like his own daughter. Although he was absent for most parts of my previous life because he was too busy, I would never forget his kindness.]
Her thoughts were cut off when she heard a knock on the door.
When she let them in, Alphen and Stephanie entered the room with Lewis. Ever since she was stuck in the palace, only Alphen and Stephanie had been the ones looking after her.
[And now, Lewis.]
"Greetings to the First Star of the Great Moonasterion Empire," Alphen and Stephanie greeted her in unison with their heads hanged low.
Except for Lewis who was staring at the ceiling, obviously spacing out again.
But never mind the fox boy.
She was actually surprised that Stephanie and Alphen greeted her as the "First Star." That was the title reserved for the crown prince.
[Ah, my role play as Nero has begun.]
"Hello," Neoma greeted them cheerfully. "Please tell me I can go out now. I'm close to dying of boredom here."
"His Majesty wants to have tea with you, Your Royal Highness," Stephanie informed her. "We're here to pick you up."
"Your Royal Highness, starting from today, Lewis has become your official butler and bodyguard," Alphen added. "Lewis knows the royal secret and to keep that from everyone else, he'll follow you around wherever you go. But rest assured, he won't do something inappropriate to you, Your Royal Highness."
"I'm not worried about that," she said while looking at Lewis. "I trust the boy."
And she could take care of herself anyway.
"Anyway, we should go," Neoma said cheerfully. "I don't want to make Papa wait for me for too long.��
[AM I really going to be safe with this boy]
Neoma could only shake her head while watching Lewis play with butterflies while they were walking in the royal garden.
Only the two of them were allowed in the royal garden because apparently, the emperor didn't want people coming in and out of his garden. There weren't even royal knights around. But she would bet that it was still the safest place in the whole palace.
[After all, His Majesty is the strongest person in the empire.]
Neoma stopped walking when she realized that Lewis wasn't following her anymore. When she turned around to face him, she could only sigh at what greeted her: Lewis was just standing there while looking at the butterflies around him.
[Why are those butterflies attracted to him anyway]
"Lewis," she called him. When he didn't react, she raised her voice a little. "Lewis."
Lewis blinked before he turned to her. Then, he walked towards her and stood in front of her. "Yes, Prince���
[Prince How casual. I don't mind though.]
"How old are you" she asked curiously.
Lewis raised both of his hands. His left hand was open while his right hand had three fingers raised. "Me."
"Eight years old" she asked in surprise while looking up at him. "Gosh. You're only eight years old but you're so tall."
As she expected, he didn't react at all.
"Let's go," Neoma said before she turned her back on him. "And don't get distracted again."
[Gosh, why do I feel like I'm the one who should be protecting my butler instead]
NEOMA gave the emperor her most charming smile.
[You should be honored, Your Majesty. This is the smile that gained me 9, 999, 999 followers in my second life. Soon, you won't be able to resist my million-dollar smile.]
Well, that was easier said than done.
Right now, Emperor Nikolai looked as poker-faced as usual.
Gosh, his blank face didn't fit the serene and beautiful ambiance of the royal garden. But even though he looked grumpy, she couldn't deny the fact that his handsome face was still nice to look at. Plus, his elegance was oozing even though he was just sipping his tea.
[I guess his royal upbringing can't be overlooked even though he's scary.]
Heh, she was talking to herself for thing long because her damned father hadn't uttered a word ever since she came.
[I wish Glenn and Lewis are here instead.]
Glenn and Lewis were standing at the entrance of the garden. Far enough not to hear their conversation, but close enough to reach them if something bad was to happen.
[My butt hurts.]
Sitting on a stool placed on top of the chair was uncomfortable, you know But because she was still too small, she had to use double chairs just so she could reach the table properly. It was hard being a little child.
"Papa, how are you" Neoma asked him cheerfully. "I'm lonely now that my brother has gone to the temple for his recovery. But I can endure it because I want Brother to be well as soon as possible. And you're here so I'm not going to be too sad, Papa."
Emperor Nikolai just looked at her, then he elegantly put the cup down on the table. "Tomorrow, you're moving to Blanco Palace."
That was the palace used by every crown prince in their history.
In her past life, Nero was moved there when they were five years old. But now that she had switched with her twin brother, she was now the one destined to live there in this lifetime.
"Okay, Papa," she answered cheerfully. "Thank you for providing a residence for me."
"You're now the royal prince of the empire," the emperor said. "It's only natural for you to use Blanco Palace as your residence. Stephanie and Alphen will be the new head maid and head butler of the palace since they know your real identity. I asked them to choose a handful of servants that they can trust. Everyone in your new residence will keep your secret. But even if they already know that you're the princes, you still need to be extra careful."
"I'll soon ensemble your own knight squad for your protection," the emperor continued. "But for now, I will assign Glenn as your personal knight."
"Sir Glenn is your personal knight, isn't he, Papa" she asked worriedly. "Who will protect you then"
"I can take care of myself," he said confidently. "Starting the day after tomorrow, you'll continue taking up lessons that Nero left behind. But you won't get the same teachers that Nero had. They have met your twin brother so they might notice the difference. To avoid that, we got new teachers for you."
"I understand, Papa."
"Nero's former teachers said that the prince is smart," he continued. "You know what I'm saying, right"
"I won't embarrass you, Papa," she said even though she was a bit offended that he questioned her intelligence. To forget about it, she changed the topic. "Papa, can I say my three wishes now"
He nodded. "Go ahead."
She sipped her tea first to hide her smile. As expected, her tea had honey in it again. After she had controlled her expression, she put the cup down on the table. "Papa, my first wish is to be free to choose whom to marry. So please cancel my engagement with Lord Drayton's son."
"Princesses are only good for marrying off to rich and powerful families," the emperor said coldly. "Once Nero comes back to take his rightful place, what will happen to you if you refused to be married Do you think I will let you live in the palace forever"
[I know you won't, sc*mbag.]
"That's where my second wish comes in Papa," she said with a smile. "Once Brother Nero returns, I will step down as a princess." Once she was no longer a princess, men wouldn't bother her with proposals anymore. "But in return, I want you to make me a duchess and give me my own territory. I don't care if you give me the smallest or the most barren land in the empire. I will be fine with it as long as I'm the duchess."
"What good your title as a duchess will be if your land is barren anyway"
"Don't worry about it, Papa," she said cheerily. "I'm confident that I can make any land prosperous. I'll prove it to you someday."
She just needed freedom as a high-ranking noble even though it was just a title.
[I have to save up though. I'm sure my sc*mbag of a father will really give me a barren land. I should be rich by the time I leave this goddamn palace.]
"It's unpleasant to hear a child talk like an adult," Emperor Nikolai said. "I guess you inherited something from me."
She just laughed it off and pretended that she didn't understand what he said. "Papa, my last wish is the most important of all."
Emperor Nikolai raised an eyebrow at her. "What is it"
"Papa, spend time with me every day," Neoma said in a sweet smile, with her most charming smile ever. "I want you to spend one hour of your day with me every day, Papa."
Please ADD my story in your LIBRARY to be notified when an update is posted. Thank you! :>