NEOMA's heart started to thump against her chest loud and fast.
[Nero, are you feeling restless]
"We're here," Emperor Nikolai said, then he dropped the handkerchief.
Neoma's arm fell to her side. But she didn't have the time to complain because she saw a blinding white door at the end of the not-so-dark alley now. She also noticed that the door was surrounded by white butterflies. "Papa, is that the door leading to the saint's temple"
"Yes," Emperor Nikolai said. "That's the only door that Saint Zavaroni allowed to be connected to his temple."
"Zavaroni" she asked. "Sounds like macaroni."
"I don't know what you're talking about but watch your manners," the emperor scolded her. "Only the saint and High Priest Dave Wellington know that you switched places with Nero."
[High Priest Wellington]
Gosh, that made her hungry.
She was reminded of the beef wellington that she had when she once visited Chef G*rdon R*msay's restaurant in London. She was a vlogger in her second life and her content back then was mostly mukbang videos. As a foodie, she loved reviewing different varieties of food.
Too bad her joyous second life had to end so soon because of coconut wine poisoning.
[Gosh, my cause of death sounds pitiful.]
"Everyone else in the temple thinks that your brother is Lady Nara Quinzel– Rufus's adoptive daughter," Emperor Nikolai continued, driving her thoughts away from food. "That means every single person in the temple thinks that you're the royal prince." He turned to her with a warning look. "You better act accordingly, "Prince Nero.""
"Yes, Papa Boss," Neoma said cheerfully, then she gave him a thumbs up. "As per our deal, I will act as the perfect future crown prince that will make a normal father proud. But since you're not normal, I guess you'll always find fault in me. I'm prepared for that, though. Although I can't impress you, I'll make sure that everyone else will be blown away by my god-tier acting skills, Papa Boss."
"You say too many nonsensical things," her father said while shaking his head. "And now you're giving me a weird nickname."
"It's not weird," she reasoned. "You're my Papa and my boss at the same time. It only makes sense that I call you 'Papa Boss' from now on."
"Do whatever you want," Emperor Nikolai said. "Just make sure that you won't say weird things in front of other people."
"Understood, Papa Boss," Neoma said cheerfully. But deep inside, she was wondering as to why Emperor Nikolai seemed to be generous and lenient to her now. [He's not dying, is he]
NEOMA squinted when her eyes hurt from the well-lit room that greeted them after Emperor Nikolai opened the white door. Her eyes gotten used to the dark alley so being suddenly exposed to the light hurt.
"Welcome to the Yule Temple," a group of loud and firm voice greeted them. "Greetings to the one and only moon and the First Star of our Great Moonasterion Empire."
When she opened her eyes, she was surprised to see the famed Holy Knights lined up on either of their side. She couldn't see the knights' face though because all of them wore complete armor from head to toe.
The squad was led by a man with short blonde hair and green eyes. Based on the white hat and the white robe with golden embroidery, she could tell who it was right away.
[High Priest Beef Wellington.]
Uh, sorry. It was 'Dave Wellington,' not 'Beef Wellington.'
[Gosh, I'm craving for some good meat.]
"It's an honor to have you here, Your Majesty," High Priest Wellington said to the emperor with a bow. Then, he turned to her. "Greetings, Your Royal Highness."
Neoma smiled brightly. "Thank you for the warm welcome, Your Eminence."
The High Priest smiled as if he was impressed by her clear speech.
"Enough with the greetings," Emperor Nikolai said in a cold voice, once again proving how much of a sc*mbag he was. "I want to see His Holiness now, High Priest Wellington."
[Gosh, he didn't even look for Nero first!]
NEOMA didn't have the chance to meet the saint's whose name she had already forgotten.
[But I remember that his name sounds like macaroni.]
Anyway, she was on her way to Nero's room now. She was being accompanied by two quiet priestesses and three Holy Knights. It was amazing how the knights wore heavy armors but their footsteps remained very light. She could even barely feel their presence.
[They seem to be very capable of protecting Saint Macaroni and High Priest Beef Wellington.]
"We've arrived at Lady Quinzel's room, Your Royal Highness," the two priestesses said in unison while bowing politely.
"Thank you for accompanying me," Neoma said with a charming smile. "Please wait here. I want to talk to my cousin in private."
The two priestesses bowed to her. "As you wish, Your Royal Highness."
She just smiled at them before she entered the room that the knights opened for her.
Even though she was excited to see her brother again, she walked as calmly as she could. But when the door behind her finally closed, she ran towards the huge bed.
"Big Brother," she said when she reached her twin brother. "How are you"
Nero looked so weak while lying on the bed. But when he saw her, he smiled as if he was trying to look strong for her. "I missed you, Neoma."
She didn't expect to be emotional while looking at Nero's terrible condition.
She climbed to the bed and carefully sat beside the prince. "I missed you, too, Big Brother," she said sweetly, then she held his cold hand. "Why do you still look weak even though you're in the temple I thought His Holiness can heal you."
"I'm fine, Neoma," he told her, then he squeezed her hand weakly. "His Holiness managed to slow down the curse that's killing me."
"But that's just band-aid solution," she said in frustration. "We have to completely dispel the curse the enemies put on you."
He smiled despite his condition. "Thank you for worrying about me, my precious Neoma."
She smiled back at her brother, and then her stomach growled loudly. "Oops," she said, embarrassed. "The name of the saint and the High Priest made me hungry, Big Brother."
Gosh, now she was craving for some macaroni cheese and beef wellington.
It was obvious that he didn't get what she said, but he chuckled anyway as if he still found her cute. "I asked His Holiness to prepare refreshments for you," he said, then he pointed at the night table beside the bed. There was a tea cup and a tray of snacks on it. "I recommend the tea, Neoma. It tastes divine."
"Oh. Good timing. I was thirsty anyway," she said, then she reached out for the tea cup prepared for her. She smiled when she saw that the tea was pink and it had some little flowers in it. "This tea is pretty."
And familiar, to be honest.
"Isn't it" her brother agreed. "That's why that tea reminds me of you, Neoma."
She just giggled.
But while staring at the pretty pink tea, her smile vanished as she suddenly remembered where she had seen it.
[I've seen this tea in my first life!]
How could she forget
[In my first life, I discovered this pretty pink tea in a forbidden book in the library of Luna Palace.]
According to that book, a pair of twins born in the de Moonasterio family was a curse. That was because royal twins like her and Nero could bind their lives together if a proper spell was used– a forbidden spell that would unite their life forces forever.
[That means if one of us dies, the other twin will die as well.]
And to perform that forbidden spell, she sought and threatened a Black Witch who happened to be the woman that Nero was obsessed with in her past life.
["Lady Quinzel, you just have to drink this pink tea for the forbidden spell to activate," Dalhia, the Black Witch, told her in the past. "But the spell will only be completed if His Royal Highness Prince Nero drinks the tea, too."]
"Big Brother, did you drink this tea before I arrived"
"Hmm" Nero asked, obviously confused by her question. "I did. Why"
"I've read about this tea in a book back in the Luna Palace," Neoma said seriously, then she looked at Nero straight in the eye. She wanted to act all innocent in front of her twin brother. But the memories of her first life was making her feel so edgy that she couldn't think straight. "Why do you want to bind our life forces together, Nero"
Author's Note: Hi! Sorry if I can't post regular updates yet. I've already said this in my other story but for those who aren't reading it, the reason I can't update regularly is because I'm busy with my day job. My mother needs surgery soon so I'm working hard to save up for it. So please bear with the slow updates for now. Sorry. T_T
Also, for those who can, I've started a donation pool on my Ko-fi account. Please buy me coffee if you can. Thank you!
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