"YOU MEAN LEWIS, the fox boy"
"He's a fox" Nero asked in surprise. Right now, he was in his room in the temple while having tea with Duke Quinzel. Thanks to his precious Neoma's Mana, he has recovered enough to be able to get up from the bed and have tea with his guardian. "Neoma didn't mention anything about her butler's identity."
The source of this content is n/ov/elb/in[./]net'
Duke Quinzel sipped his tea before he spoke again. "Lewis is the last surviving member of the Silver Fox Clan."
"Do you know him personally, Your Grace"
"No, not really," the duke said while shaking his head. "For the past years, His Majesty and I have been working together to hunt down the people behind the Black Market in the empire. Just last year, I got a tip about an illegal auction house that sells slaves to nobles and other big shot personalities from different parts of the world. When we raided the auction house, Lewis was one of the slaves that we rescued. That was how I got to know the fox boy."
"According to the history books that I've read, the Silver Fox Clan used to be one of the most prestigious clans in the empire," he said. "What happened to them"
"Well, humans are cruel to those who look quite different from them," his uncle said with a sad smile. "The previous emperor used that to push the people of the empire to discriminate the Silver Fox Clan. Knowing that they were feared and unwanted, the clan went into hiding. That was when the previous emperor asked his men to hunt them down. He wanted more power so he stole and ate the Marble of every Silver Fox that his knights caught."
"What are those Marbles" he asked curiously.
"Apparently, Marbles are the life force and Mana that the Silver Foxes had cultivated all their lives," the duke said. "It is believed that if a human ate the Marble of a Silver Fox, that person will be very powerful."
"And the previous emperor ate more than one Marble" he said, then he smirked when he remembered something. "The history books taught me that my grandfather died because of an unknown disease. Could it be that he died from his greediness"
"Your Royal Highness, please don't talk that way about the previous emperor," Duke Quinzel scolded him. "He was still your grandfather."
"Why are people not allowed to "bad-mouth" a deceased person when the dead in question was really a sc*mbag when he was still alive" he asked with a smile. "If you don't want people to speak ill of you when you die, then live a decent life."
"Tell that to yourself, Na-ra," the duke said with an equally sweet smile– emphasizing the syllables of her fake name as if to remind him of his current position. "If you don't want me to tell people in your funeral that you were an insolent child, then please watch your attitude."
His smile instantly faded when he heard that. "Have you forgotten who I am, Duke Quinzel"
"You are Nara Quinzel, my daughter," the duke said with a smile. "And as long as you have my name, I'll raise you like you're my own child."
That meant that the duke wouldn't treat him like the royal prince that he was.
He couldn't find a retort to that.
Duke Quinzel chuckled as if he knew that he won that petty argument. "Anyway, why are you suddenly curious of Lewis"
"He's a boy around Neoma's age," he said bitterly. "I can't believe that His Majesty allowed that fox boy to be Neoma's butler and knight. Even though my sister is pretending to be me, she's still a girl. What if Lewis fancies my Neoma"
The duke laughed softly. "What if it's the other way around"
He scoffed at that thought. "Impossible. Neoma will never get married," he declared confidently. "She's mine."
"You don't own Princess Neoma," his uncle reminded him in a serious tone. "Just because you're the future crown prince doesn't mean you have the right to own people."
"I don't want to own every single person in the empire," he countered. "I only need Neoma. Her existence is irreplaceable to me."
"That thought is far more dangerous, my dear nephew," Duke Quinzel said with a sad smile. "The last time an emperor tried to own the most unique rose in the empire, he lost everything."
Nero couldn't help but feel like he knew who the duke was talking about.
[Is His Grace referring to His Majesty]
But what kind of "rose" could cause an emperor to lose his everything
"YOUR ROYAL Highness, are you sleepy"
"No," Neoma said, then she covered her mouth with her hands when she yawned. It was fine to act that way because she was still in her room. Aside from Sir Glenn and Lewis, Stephanie and Alphen were the only people there. In short, everyone in her chamber right now was aware of the royal secret so she could act a bit freely compared to when she was surrounded by other servants. "Just a little bit."
Sir Glenn laughed softly, then he got down on one knee to match her eye level. "May I carry you, Your Royal Highness It will be dangerous if you walk in that state."
Before she could respond to the knight, Lewis stood protectively in front of her.
"You're too young and too small to carry the princess," Sir Glenn told Lewis with a soft laugh.
Well, Lewis wasn't "too small" for his age. Even though the fox boy was only eight years old, he was already almost as tall as Byron and Harry who were already twelve years old. But of course, compared to Sir Glenn who stood more than six feet in height, she could see why the knight said Lewis was still "too small."
"It's okay, Lewis," she told her butler. "We can trust Sir Glenn."
Only then did Lewis step aside.
When she raised her arms, Sir Glenn carried her until she was sitting on his arms. To secure her position, she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Sir Glenn, is it okay for you if you carry me like this" she asked when they were already in the hallway leading to the main entrance of the palace. Walking behind them was Lewis, Stephanie, and Alphen. "Won't people think that the royal prince is weak if they see me being carried by a knight"
"Of course not, Your Royal Highness," Sir Glenn said. "It's a norm for royal and noble children to be carried by their knights or aids around."
"Oh," she said. "No wonder kids in this empire act like snowflakes."
"I apologize but I don't understand what you mean, Your Royal Highness."
"Never mind," she said with a smile, then she covered her mouth with her hands when she yawned. "I want to end the afternoon tea as soon as possible and continue my dream from last night."
"Is it a good dream, Your Royal Highness"
She smiled and nodded. "In that dream, I slapped the person who bullies me and even called him an idiot sandwich."
The knight laughed softly, then he whispered. "Was it His Majesty"
She gasped and whispered back. "How did you know"
"It wasn't a dream, Your Royal Highness," Sir Glenn whispered again in a cheery voice. "Last night, you really slapped His Majesty and called him an idiot sandwich."
Neoma gasped aloud. "Oh my gosh," she said in disbelief. "You should have taken a video of the momentous event, Sir Glenn."
NEOMA'S cheeks already hurt from smiling but she had to endure.
Right now, she was in the rose garden of Blanco Palace while having tea with Count Thompson and Marquis Alberts. Of course, the brats Byron and Harry (who couldn't even look at her properly) were there.
Recently, she found out that Count Thompson and Marquis Alberts were actually first cousins. No wonder Byron and Harry looked like brothers since they both had light blonde hair and blue eyes. They also looked like their fathers, obviously.
Count Thompson had blonde hair (tied in a low ponytail) and ocean blue eyes. He had a medium build and he wore a pair of round glasses.
Marquis Alberts also had blonde hair (clean-cut) and dark blue eyes. He was lean and obviously tall. He didn't wear a pair of glasses but he looked just as intelligent as the count. And of course, he had the air of dignity that most higher nobles possessed.
[They kind of look intimidating.]
Thankfully, Lewis stood behind her so she didn't get that nervous.
Sir Glenn and the other servants were on stand-by at the entrance of the garden. Plus, according to Sir Glenn a while ago, there were hidden royal knights around to make sure that nothing bad would happen to her.
"Your Royal Highness, we must apologize first," Marquis Alberts said. "Count Thompson's son and my son forgot to tell us that they made plans with you."
"It's okay, Lord Alberts," Neoma said with a smile. "Brother Byron and Brother Harry are busy with their studies so it's understandable if they forgot."
The old nobles looked surprised when she called the brats "brother."
On the other hand, Byron and Harry flinched.
It wasn't like it was forbidden for her to call older kids "brother" or "sister." In fact, it showed how "close" she was with the brats. But of course, once she became the official crown prince, she couldn't call them that way anymore.
"Your Royal Highness, I didn't know that you're close with Byron and Harry," Count Thompson said in amusement.
"Oh, we had a misunderstanding at first but we fixed it when we had tea together," she said with a smile, then she turned to the brats. "Right, Brother Byron and Brother Harry"
Byron and Harry both didn't react.
But when she discreetly pointed at Lewis with a warning look on his face, the two brats immediately smiled and nodded.
"We properly apologized to His Royal Highness and he generously forgave us," Harry said with a forced smile.
"We became friends that day," Byron, with a forced smile as well, added. "His Royal Highness is fun to hang out with even though he's younger than us."
"Thank you, Brother Byron and Brother Harry," she said in a sweet voice, then she turned to Count Thompson and Marquis Alberts. Her cheeks already hurt from keeping her business smile so she decided to go straight to her goal. "I wish to spend more time with Brother Byron and Brother Harry because I feel like they will be a good influence on me. If possible, I want to join their study group with my butler."
The old nobles looked surprised by what she said.
"Your Royal Highness, we will gladly welcome you to our study group," Marquis Alberts said. He glanced at Lewis with a blank look on his face before he turned to her again. "But I'm afraid that your butler can't join us."
"We're just abiding by the rules, Your Royal Highness," Count Thompson added. "Ever since the study group of our faction has been established fifty years ago, only noble children have been accepted to join."
She smiled even though deep inside, she felt like she was in deep sh*t.
[Gosh, when will the sc*mbag send his gift to me!]
As if on cue, she heard Sir Glenn speak loudly.
"Attention," Sir Glenn said in a firm and clear voice. "His Majesty Emperor Nikolai de Moonasterio has arrived."
Count Thompson and Marquis Alberts looked shocked, so were the brats Byron and Harry.
Of course, she was just as shocked.
Neoma turned to the entrance of the garden to see if she really heard it right.
Lo and behold, the sc*mbag had really arrived. He even wore a stylish and extravagant set of dark clothes that looked one hundred times cooler because of his one-shoulder red mantle.
When Emperor Nikolai met her eyes, he smirked arrogantly at her.
Neoma almost puked.
[The gift he said he'd sent me is himself!]
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