"YOUR MAJESTY, I received a report from Alphen."
Nikolai continued buttoning his linen shirt. "Did the foxy boy escape like we expected"
"Yes, Your Majesty," Glenn said. "Lewis is on his way to the Blanco Palace. But don't worry, Your Majesty. My squad will apprehend the boy."
To be honest, if the foxy boy was in his top condition, he doubted if his royal knights could catch the little guy. But since the foxy boy was still weak because of his injury, he was confident that the knights under Glenn's squad could deal with the young butler.
Anyway, it didn't surprise him to know that his hunch was correct.
The fire in Neoma's eyes when he told her that he wouldn't allow her to go to the temple told him that she didn't have any intention to listen to him. When he heard that the royal princess visited the foxy boy before she returned to her palace, he knew she was up to no good. That was why he asked his knights to monitor Neoma and the foxy boy's movements closely.
[And I was right.]
"Alright. Deal with the foxy boy and make sure he won't escape to follow us," he told the knight. Then, he turned to him. "I'm going to the temple with the royal princess. You know what to do while I'm gone, don't you"
This wouldn't be the first time that he'd leave the palace without telling his advisors and Glenn was already used to it.
"Your Majesty, I can deal with your advisors and hide the fact that you're not in the palace," Glenn said in a worried voice. "But are you really going to do it…"
Aside from his cousin Rufus Quinzel, Glenn was also someone he trusted.
He told his knight the reason why he was leaving the palace with the royal princess. And that seemed to bother Glenn.
[What a softie.]
He grew up with Glenn and he had always known that the knight had a soft spot for kids. So he wasn't really surprised when he questioned his decision.
"A prince is more important than a princess," Nikolai said indifferently. "Nero is my heir so I can't let him die. If sacrificing Neoma's life is the only way to save the crown prince, then I'll do it."
Every pair of twins born in the de Moonasterio family had a connection and bond stronger than ordinary siblings.
[That includes sharing the same life force.]
"I only kept the royal princess alive because I know that her life force can replace the life force of the royal prince if the need for it arises," he continued. "I'll personally check on Nero's condition and decide the next course of action. And if the saint's divine power still doesn't work on the royal prince by the time that we arrive in the temple, then I'll take matters into my own hands."
"I hope the royal prince's condition gets better as soon as possible," the knight said and he sounded hopeful. "Your Majesty, I don't want us to lose the royal princess that way."
"You're doing it again," he said while shaking his head. "When will you learn to not get attached to the princesses born in the royal family"
Glenn let out a deep sigh. "I just don't want Princess Neoma to end up like the former Princess Nichole, the Princess Royal."
Hearing his older twin sister's name again after a long time unexpectedly gave a tug at his heart. But of course, he just ignored the tightening of his chest. Grieving for a person who was already long gone was a luxury that he couldn't afford as an emperor.
"Princess Nichole fulfilled her duty as Princess Royal by sacrificing her life for me to live," Nikolai said, his voice sounding cold even to his own ears. "And now, it's Neoma's turn to save the future crown prince of the empire."
NEOMA couldn't help but give Emperor Nikolai a suspicious look.
[His Majesty isn't a kind person. I'm sure there's a reason why he's being "nice" to me.]
Plus, the emperor knew that she was planning to escape the palace. But instead of locking her up in her room, he offered to go with her instead.
"What's in it for you, Papa" Neoma asked seriously. "You won't help me for free."
"I have no obligation to answer your question," Emperor Nikolai said. "If you don't want my help, I won't force you. Let's see if you can leave the palace on your own."
"On my own…" she trailed-off, then she gasped aloud. "What did you do to Lewis"
"My knights apprehended your little butler," he said. "He has no business sneaking in the royal prince's palace at this hour."
She let out a frustrated sigh.
The source of this content is n0/v//el//bin[.//]net'
[This sc*mbag is worse than all the evil mother-in-laws that I've seen in Kdramas.]
"Alright, I'll bring you with me," she said haughtily, pretending that she wasn't bothered by his hidden agenda. Of course, she couldn't trust him easily. But forcing him to answer his questions would only make the emperor put his guard up even more. "But no funny business, Papa. I'm keeping an eye on you."
"I should be the one saying that, Princess Neoma," her father said, the sarcasm in his voice as he called her by her title was back again. "Anyway, let's go to the temple the fastest way."
She didn't know what the emperor meant until she saw what he did next.
The emperor opened his hand and then, a transparent golden key emerged from his palm. When he wrapped his fingers around the key, it turned into a physical key.
[Woah, that was cool.]
"This is the key to Valmento," he said when he noticed the awe in her face. Then, he walked towards the door of her room. "Follow me."
She immediately ran towards her father. "Papa, are you going to use that key in an ordinary door"
"It doesn't matter what kind of door I use," he said. "As long as I open it using this key, it will lead us to the Holy Land. Aside from the key to Valmento, I also possess more keys leading to different areas of the empire where I have access to."
"You're like D*raemon, Papa," she said with amazement. "D*raemon has a door that can take him anywhere he wants as well. That's pretty useful."
The emperor remained passive but she could tell that he didn't get what she said. "I don't know what you mean but having this key is indeed useful."
"Gosh, being equipped like that makes you appear like a proper emperor," she teased him.
As expected, he glared at her. "I am the emperor."
"Really" she said in an exaggerated surprised voice. She even gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. "I don't think an emperor should bully his only daughter that is as cute as and as innocent as an angel."
"I've never seen an angel in my life yet," he deadpanned but she could see a tiny glint of (dark) humor in his eyes. "But I'm pretty sure that an angel wouldn't call her father sc*mbag– much more to punch him in the face."
"That sounds like what a survivor should do against her abuser," she said with a sweet smile that took the humor in her father's eyes. "If you've been subjected to years of verbal and emotional abuse, you'd snap as well, Papa."
"I can't believe I'm being told off by a tiny human that I can easily step on."
"Papa, let's not fight," she said with her most charming smile. She didn't want to waste her energy fighting with her father when she was about to meet Nero. "Let's get along well during this trip," she said, then she extended her little hand to him. "Shall we"
He raised a brow at her. "I can't tell if you're being sarcastic again or not."
Well, to be honest, she wasn't sure.
She wouldn't deny that was rude and hostile towards Emperor Nikolai. But in her defense, she had to protect herself. Acting cute didn't work on him so she gave up on sucking up to him. And as a result, she decided to act tough instead.
But if they couldn't have a normal father and daughter relationship, maybe they could act civil since they were now "business partners."
[Though if he bullies me, I'll bite back.]
"Okay, I decided to give you another chance," Neoma said with a smile. Her choice of words earned her an eye roll from her father. She just laughed it off. "Let's be chummy business partners from now on, Papa."
"Alright. Request accepted," Emperor Nikolai said, then he finally took her little hand in his big and warm hand. "Let's get along well, Princess Neoma."
[How I wish, Papa.]
Neoma wouldn't admit this but deep in her heart, she was still hoping that someday, her father would finally accept her as his daughter and treat her kindly.
[A girl can dream, right]
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