NERO let out a deep sigh while looking outside the window of his new room. He was sitting on the windowsill while holding a locket in his hand. That locket had Neoma's latest picture. But he didn't want to look at it anymore because the more he did, the more he wanted to go home.
[I have to endure for our future.]
It had been days since he arrived at his new home in Valmento (the Holy Land) with the Quinzels but he couldn't say that he had already adjusted. Even though the duke and his family were nice to him, he still couldn't say that he was comfortable in that place.
First of all, wearing clothes and accessories for girls wasn't something he could get accustomed to easily.
But the hardest part was living without Neoma, of course.
[I miss you, Neoma.]
His thoughts were cut off when he heard a knock on the door, accompanied by Duke Quinzel's voice from outside.
Nero stood up before he spoke. "You may come in, Your Grace."
The double doors of his new room opened and Duke Rufus Quinzel entered.
But he wasn't alone.
The duke brought Hanna, his "adoptive sister."
[They look alike.]
Duke Quinzel and Hanna both had black hair. But instead of the duke's golden eyes, Hanna inherited her mother's green orbs.
He wouldn't deny it– Hanna was pretty.
Not that it mattered.
[Neoma is still the prettiest girl in the whole empire.]
"Greetings, Your Grace," Nero said politely, then he gave the duke a curtsy instead of a bow. Then, he turned to Hanna. "How do you do, Lady Quinzel"
Hanna's cheeks turned red but she quickly gave an awkward curtsy. "I'm fine, Sister Nara."
He just smiled at that. [The way my Neoma does a curtsy is cuter.]
"Ah, my apologies," Duke Quinzel said later while looking at him. "I shouldn't have called you by your real name."
He smiled at his uncle. "It's okay, Your Grace. I know it's not easy to get accustomed to my new identity."
"But I should try harder," the duke said, then he turned to his daughter. "Our Hanna here reminded me that I should get used to calling you by your new name." He patted Hanna's head gently. "You did great, Hanna."
Hanna just smiled with her cheeks as red as an apple.
Their conversation was interrupted when Duchess Quinzel arrived.
Duchess Quinzel had dark brown hair with red hues and green eyes. Before marrying the duke, Duchess Amber Quinzel was a daughter of a marquis. In short, she had always been a higher noble and it showed.
Duchess Quinzel's beauty and elegance were overflowing.
[Was our mother as beautiful and as graceful as the duchess]
And what kind of woman would be willing to give birth to the children of a jerk like the emperor Was it for money Status
"Nara, I'm going to prepare snacks for your afternoon tea with Hanna," Duchess Quinzel told him with a smile. "If you have a specific dessert that you'd love to have, please don't hesitate to tell me."
"It's okay, Your Grace," Nero said with a smile. "I'm not a picky eater. And I'm certain that whatever you prepare for us, it would be tasty."
"You speak well, Nara," the duchess said, obviously pleased by his eloquence. Then, she turned to the duke. "Darling, we should leave the children alone and let them play."
"Oh, you're right, darling," Duke Quinzel agreed. Then, he turned to him and Hanna. "Be comfortable with each other and don't fight, okay"
He and Hanna just smiled at the duke.
After that, Duke and Duchess Quinzel really left them in his room.
[What am I supposed to do with this child]
Well, he was only a few months older than Hanna. But still…
"Sister Nara, would you like to read books with me" Hanna asked shyly. "I love reading storybooks with big pictures."
"Don't call me 'sister,'" Nero told him with a smile.
"Oh," she said with an embarrassed look on her face. "Right. You're still a boy. Do you want me to call you 'brother' when there's only the two of us"
"No," he said. "I want you to call me by my proper title when there's only the two of us."
"I'm the one and only prince of the empire," he reminded her with a smile. "Don't forget that, Lady Quinzel."
Hanna, whose face was very red again, lowered her head in embarrassment. "I u-understand, Your Royal Highness."
Nero just smiled at Hanna, then he turned outside his window again. [Neoma, I hope you don't feel too lonely without me.]
NEOMA laughed like a dying hyena when her Soul Beast, now a white unicorn with wings, suddenly turned red in an attempt to return to its original form. "You look like tteokbokki poured in a sauce with gochugang."
Tteokbokki was rice cake and gochugang was Korean chili paste. The uncooked rice cake was white while the chili paste was red. So when the white unicorn turned red, she was reminded of tteokbokki being poured in spicy red sauce.
[And I miss Korean food so much.]
"Shut up, you thug princess," her Soul Beast hissed. "I'm trying my best, okay"
"That's enough," she told him. "We can fight even if you're in a different form. It didn't change your attribute, right"
"How did you know about that"
She shrugged. "I'm smart."
Well, not really.
She just had the memories of her first life and thanks to that, she knew that each Soul Beast had an attribute.
If she remembered it correctly, Nero's wolf had the water and ice attributes.
[Yeah, my twin brother has two attributes when average people with Mana are only given one at birth.]
"What's your attribute" Neoma asked her Soul Beast. "If you're a red dragon, does it mean that your attribute is fire"
The Soul Beast gasped in surprise. "How can a thug princess like you be smart I thought strong humans are supposed to be dumb."
"I'm not smart. I'm just mentally old," she said with a laugh. "Anyway, now that I know that you're a red dragon with fire attribute, it's time for me to give you a name."
"I can't trust you, thug princess," he complained. "You're going to give me a weird name, aren't you"
"Of course not, Tteokbokki."
Tteokbokki looked horrified by the name she called him. "Tteok– what"
"Let's go, Tteokbokki," Neoma said cheerfully. "Don't worry– I'll protect you from my crazy father."
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