"PAPA, Nero's heart just stopped beating."
Nikolai's eyes widened in shock when he heard that. "What are you saying?"
"I felt it," the royal princess said, then she dropped his hand to clutch her chest tight. "Nero's heart isn't beating anymore. I don't know how but I just know."
He couldn't dismiss it easily because he knew that the twins born in their family had a strange but strong connection. "I'll check on the royal prince's condition," he said, then he stood up and went straight to his desk. He grabbed his pocket watch and called Rufus using Video Call. After a few minutes, his cousin finally picked up the call. The duke's sullen face already gave him a bad feeling. "Rufus, how's Nero?"
[His Royal Highness's heart just stopped beating, Your Majesty], Rufus informed him in a formal but sad voice. [The saint is doing his best to revive the prince. We're still waiting for the good news.]
"It's back," Neoma exclaimed suddenly. "Papa, Nero's heartbeat is back!"
He turned to the royal princess. Despite the excitement in her voice, her face still looked worried. "Then, why do you look like that?"
"It's weak," the royal princess said. "Nero's heartbeat is very weak."
[Your Majesty, the High Priest just arrived to inform me that the saint successfully revived His Royal Highness!]
He turned to Rufus and he saw the relief on his face. "Is the royal prince awake?"
Rufus fell gloomy again. [That's the problem, Your Majesty. His Royal Highness is still unconscious. The saint doesn't know how long the prince will last. It seems like even his divine power isn't working on His Royal Highness.]
"Alright," he said. "Call me again if Nero's condition changes."
He hanged up even before Rufus could respond to him.
"Papa, let me go to the saint's temple and visit Nero," Neoma said in a cracked voice. "My twin brother needs me."
[Finally, you're acting like a normal child.]
"No," Nikolai said. "The royal prince can't leave the palace without a valid reason."
The glare Neoma threw at him was so sharp it gave him shivers.
[This kid probably just cursed me in her mind.]
NEOMA was fuming.
She wanted to beat the crap out of Emperor Nikolai but she didn't want to waste time with him when her twin brother was in danger. So instead, she walked out on the sc*mbag and asked her servants to bring her to where Lewis was.
Only then did she find out that her butler was already out of the hospital.
Alphen brought him the annex where the butlers lived together. Much to her annoyance, she realized that Lewis didn't have a room. Her poor butler was living in the small attic all this time!
In fairness, the attic was clean. But it was empty. Lewis didn't even have a bed. He was just lying on an old mattress with a thin blanket. There was a big cabinet in the corner of the room but that was it.
"Princess," Lewis greeted her when he opened his eyes.
"Don't move," Neoma ordered the butler when he tried to get up. When Lewis didn't move an inch like what she asked him to do, she turned to Alphen. "I want Lewis out of this annex as soon as possible. Make the chamber next to mine his new room."
Alphen bowed to her. "As you wish, Your Royal Highness."
"Leave," she told the head butler. "I want to talk to Lewis in private."
The head butler bowed again before he left the room.
As soon as Alphen was gone, she ran towards Lewis and kneeled beside him. She carefully removed the blanket covering his torso to check on his chest wound. Thankfully, the wound was gone as if he didn't get stabbed in the first place.
[According to Madam Hammock, Lewis' physical injury was already healed. But his Mana needs some recovering time, thus he can't move properly.]
She didn't want to bring him along with her but she had no other ally that she could trust.
"Lewis, can you move?" Neoma asked in a soft voice. "If I asked you to run away with me tonight, will you?"
"Yes," Lewis said without even missing a heartbeat. "Me. Anywhere. With princess."
She smiled at his display of loyalty. "Thank you, Lewis. I'm sorry if I have to ask you to accompany me when you're supposed to be recovering." She raised her right hand as if she was making an oath. "I promise to take care of you."
"Me protect princess," he said, then he pointed at himself. "Me. Job."
"I know that it's your job to protect me," she said with a soft laugh. "But as your master, you're now my responsibility." She wanted to hold his hand but she remembered that he hated too much physical contact. So instead, she just lightly hooked her pinky finger with his. He looked surprised, but he didn't pull away. "Lewis, I'm sorry that you got hurt because of me. But I want you to know that I'm really grateful to you for saving my life. Thank you so much."
For some reason, Lewis's face turned red. Then, he turned his head away from her. "Princess. Pretty. Blinding."
"I know, right? My face is glowing," she said playfully. Then, she unhooked her pinky finger with his. "Anyway, pick me up in my room around midnight. Don't let anyone catch you, Lewis. We're running away later in stealth mode."
He finally turned to her again, then he nodded.
"See you later, Lewis," Neoma said with a smile. "Rest well for now."
Again, Lewis's cheeks turned red. "Later, Princess."
NEOMA was satisfied with the outfit that she found in her closet.
For tonight's escapade, she wore a plain black turtle neck shirt and gray shorts. Too bad athletic shoes weren't invented in this world yet. So she had no choice but to wear the most comfortable boots available.
Anyway, after dressing up, she went under the bed to unearth Nero's hidden piggy bank. She hated to steal from her sick twin brother but she needed money to get to him.
[I'll pay you back later, Nero.]
She was busy putting a bag of gold coins in her pocket when she felt another presence in her room.
"You're right in time, Lewis," Neoma said, then she stood up. "Let's go…"
She trailed-off when she realized that it wasn't Lewis.
"Go where?" Emperor Nikolai asked in a somewhat low voice.
She also noticed that instead of his usual sleepwear, the emperor wore casual clothes tonight: dark linen shirt, trousers, and boots.
But despite his low profile outfit, he still looked very handsome and elegant.
[Thank you for the pretty genes, Your Majesty.]
"I'm going to the temple and stay with Nero until he wakes up, Papa," Neoma declared firmly with clenched fists. "If you try to stop me, I'll fight you again."
He let out a frustrated sigh. "Let's go."
"Go where?" she asked with widened eyes.
"Let's go to Nero together," Emperor Nikolai said in a flat voice. "I already expected you to do this anyway."
"Gosh," Neoma said, then she took a step backwards with her arms crossed. "It's creepy when you're being nice, Papa!"
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hi. I made a Ko-fi account: ko-fi.com/sola_cola
I posted a colored sketch of Neoma and Nero on my Ko-fi account. Check it out, y'all. And please buy me coffee if you can~
Random fact: I love memes. :D