WHEN NEOMA opened her eyes, she was greeted by Emperor Nikolai who already looked impatient while standing in front of her with his arms crossed over his chest. [Hello, Mr. Grumpy.]
They were still in the training ground and aside from her and the emperor, only Glenn and Lewis were there as their guards. Emperor Nikolai actually wanted to make her butler leave when they arrived a while ago. But she insisted that she wanted Lewis to be there.
[Lewis is my final "lifeline."]
"If it will always take you this long to summon your Soul Beast, you'd be dead in a fight," Emperor Nikolai scolded her.
"I apologize, Papa," Neoma said with her trademark charming smile. "But Tteokbokki, my Soul Beast, is now ready."
The emperor's brows furrowed in confusion. "Tteok– what"
"Tteokbokki, Papa," she said brightly. "That's the name of my Soul Beast."
Her father didn't have the chance to react to that because Tteokbokki finally appeared beside her.
But her scaredy-cat of a Soul Beast hid behind her.
[What a disgrace!]
"A unicorn," Emperor Nikolai said, obviously unimpressed. "Nero, have you forgotten about what I said if your Soul Beast turns out to be a stupid unicorn"
"Don't worry, Papa," she said with a smile even though she wanted to curse at her father for being so mean. "Tteokbokki isn't stupid. Plus, I know he's strong."
"Thug princess, don't give me too much credit," Tteokbokki said with a hint of fear in his voice. "I'm nothing compared to His Majesty and his Soul Beasts."
Her smile froze, then she turned to Tteokbokki and whispered. ""Beasts" With 's'"
"Are you dumb, thug princess" Tteokbokki whispered in a frustrated voice. "Don't you know that your father holds the Four Holy Guardians His Majesty possesses the Azure Dragon, the Vermillion Bird, the White Tiger, and the Black Tortoise."
She almost choked on her own saliva after hearing that.
Of course, she knew that her father was the strongest person in the empire. But in her past life, she wasn't interested in war and she wasn't taught about the power that the royal family possessed. She knew that the emperor had a Soul Beast but only now did she find out that her father actually owned four.
[The emperor is so overpowered!]
"Tteokbokki," Neoma said, then she gently patted the unicorn's cheek. "I'll give you a proper burial."
Tteokbokki hissed at her.
She just laughed it off. "I'm just kidding."
"Nero, what are you whispering with your Soul Beast for" His Majesty asked in an impatient tone.
"I won't let His Majesty take anything from me," she promised her Soul Beast before she faced her father again. "Papa, I won't let you kill Tteokbokki. He may look like a funny red one-horned donkey. But he's still the unicorn that I've always wished for."
"How foolish," Emperor Nikolai said, then he raised his hand. "The crown prince doesn't need a disgraceful Soul Beast like that."
When the emperor snapped his fingers, a strange white and golden light appeared before him. A few moments later, the white and golden light formed into a beautiful White Tiger with gold stripes. And oh, it has glowing red eyes.
Also, it was probably thrice bigger than an average tiger, unlike Tteokbokki who was only the size of a regular pony.
[Okay, now I kind of regret asking him to turn into a unicorn.]
"West, kill the funny-looking horse," Emperor Nikolai said to his Soul Beast.
The majestic White Tiger named 'West' roared in response.
Gosh, the ground shook from that loud roar.
"If you don't want to get hurt, get out of the way," the emperor said coldly. "My Soul Beast won't stop until it kills that stupid unicorn."
Was he telling her to abandon Tteokbokki
[Ah, what a sc*mbag.]
She would admit that she wasn't taking the situation seriously a while ago because she thought that the emperor wasn't serious about killing Tteokbokki. That was why she was still able to joke around. But she should have known better.
[That sc*mbag doesn't know how to joke.]
And now, she was super pissed.
"Papa, I'm not like you," Neoma said with a bright smile. "I won't abandon people close to my heart– and that includes my Tteokbokki."
NERO accidentally dropped the spoon he was holding when he felt his heart thump painfully against his chest.
"Nero, what's wrong" Duchess Quinzel, who joined him and Hanna in their afternoon tea, asked worriedly. "You suddenly went pale."
Nero wanted to respond to the duchess but the pain got worse until he found himself clutching his chest tight. Neoma….
NEOMA turned around when she thought she heard her twin brother's voice calling her name. [Nero]
For some reason, her heart started to beat erratically against her chest.
[I didn't have coffee so why the hell am I having palpitation now]
"Thug princess, do you have a plan"
Neoma turned to Tteokbokki again. Her conscience kicked her when she saw how distressed the Soul Beast was. He wasn't kidding when he said he was afraid of the emperor, huh "Tteokbokki, can you outrun the White Tiger"
Surprisingly, the White Tiger hadn't moved from its place yet.
But she could tell that it was sizing up Tteokbokki with its glowing red eyes. She had a feeling that once her Soul Beast moved, the White Tiger would attack immediately.
"Of course not," Tteokbokki answered. "The White Tiger is the god of the earth. How can I outran a being like that"
"Then, can you breathe fire or something"
"Not yet," he said with a hint of embarrassment in his voice. "If you compare me to a human, then I'd be a newly born baby."
"Gosh, you're useless."
"I'm not!" he insisted. "I'm in this state because you're a baby, too! My ability is dependent on your Mana, you know"
"Enough with excuses," she scolded him lightly. "Anyway, we have no choice but to run away. I'll buy you time to go back to wherever you're from while I distract the White Tiger."
"And how do you plan to distract the White Tiger"
The source of this content is n0/v//el//bin[.//]net'
"By fighting it, of course," she said while cracking her knuckles.
"Just go," Neoma said to her Soul Beast while stepping away from him. "See you later, Tteokbokki!"
She didn't look back.
Instead, she charged at the White Tiger who roared and charged at her as well.
She would be lying if she said she wasn't afraid. But Tteokbokki was now her responsibility. And she was the only one allowed to "bully" the poor unicorn.
[This is my apology for forcing you to change your form, Tteokbokki.]
When she was close enough to the White Tiger to hit it, she screamed at the top of her lungs and threw a punch with all the strength that she had in her little body.
[Here goes nothing!]
As soon as her knuckles connected at the White Tiger's face, she felt the bones in her fingers broke.
But even before the pain settled in, she felt a strong arm wrapped around her waist. Then, she found herself being carried by someone away from the White Tiger. When she turned to her savior, she was surprised to be greeted by Lewis's blank face.
Not only did he pull her away from the Soul Beast.
Lewis also kicked the White Tiger as if he was just kicking a soccer ball…
… but surprisingly, the "Holy Guardian" was sent flying by that "lazy" kick.
She covered her mouth when she gasped. [Lewis is this strong!]
"Princess," Lewis said blankly when he put her down. "Reckless."
When relief flooded her system, she giggled and was about to joke around again.
But her smile disappeared when she felt a chilling presence behind her.
The next thing she knew, a sword was already pierced through Lewis's chest. Then, her butler fell on his knees while blood was dripping from his mouth.
She was too shocked to react.
���Who told you to interfere, lowly fox" Emperor Nikolai said coldly behind her. "That is your punishment for your meddling."
When the emperor pulled the sword out of Lewis's chest, the young boy fell on the ground unconscious.
At the same time, she heard Tteokbokki's loud cry.
Her Soul Beast was now being mauled mercilessly by the White Tiger.
Neoma felt her heart thump against her chest again. This time, it was louder, faster, and more painful. But now, she knew exactly the cause of the erratic beat of her heart.
She was f*cking angry.
"Nero, this is a lesson that you should never forget," Emperor Nikolai warned her. "If you want to be the crown prince of this empire, you better behave like one."
"Shut. Up," Neoma said in an eerily calm manner. When she turned around to face her father, she saw the shocked look on Emperor Nikolai's face. But she was so angry that she didn't care about blowing up her "cutesy" façade anymore. "I am so done with you, sc*mbag."
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