"YOUR ROYAL Highness, please rest here for the meantime," High Priest Wellington told Neoma as he ushered her to a parlor room. "We will summon you once His Holiness is done with the preparations needed for the Mana transfusion."
Neoma sat on the sofa and looked at the High Priest seriously. "Your Eminence?"
The High Priest smiled gently. "Yes, Your Royal Highness?"
"Your last name is Wellington, isn't it?" she asked curiously. "Is there a chance that a dish was named after your family name? Perhaps, a pie made of fillet steak coated in pâté de foie gras, wrapped in puff pastry, then baked?"
She was proud of herself for memorizing the W*kipedia description of a beef wellington. Back in her second life, she had a phase where she got so obs*ssed with G*rdon R*msay that she watched all his cooking shows. Thanks to that obsession, she got so curious of his signature dish– the beef wellington– that she even tried to replicate the dish.
Thus, she memorized the recipe and the definition of beef wellington.
Reminiscing a part of her second life made her realize one crucial thing about her current personality.
[I got my dirty mouth from G*rdon R*msay!]
After all, the chef was known for cursing a lot.
[And I mean, like, A LOT.]
Gosh, she should have just watched P*ppa Pig. If she did, maybe she had gotten her dream British accent back in her second life. Well, G*rdon R*msay was also an Englishman but the chef cursed way too much that she couldn't really appreciate his accent.
"I apologize but I'm afraid I don't understand your question, Your Royal Highness," High Priest Wellington said. "The origin of my family name has always rooted from serving the church and the gods. The third saint of the empire was Saint Wellington, my ancestor."
"Oh, I see," Neoma said, cutting-off the High Priest with a smile. She was no longer interested in his family name's origin now that she knew that it had nothing to do with beef wellington. "Thank you for bringing me here, Your Eminence."
Knowing that he was already being dismissed, His Eminence smiled and bowed to her before he left the room quietly.
She was yet to get comfy in her seat when the door opened…
… and then Emperor Nikolai entered the parlor room.
[My day be fine then boom! A wild sc*mbag appears.]
"Papa Boss, I want to stand up and greet you properly but my short legs are too tired," Neoma lied. Well, she was tired but not to the point that she couldn't stand up. Still, she felt too lazy to move just to greet her father. They were alone in the room anyway. "Let me give you a salute instead."
She really did give the emperor a salute.
Emperor Nikolai, who seemed to be already used to her shenanigans, just ignored her salute and sat on the sofa opposite hers. "Why didn't you complete the forbidden spell that will tie your life force to Prince Nero?" he confronted her. "That was your only chance to ensure your survival for the rest of your life."
"How did you know that I didn't tie my life force with his?" she asked curiously. "Did Nero or the saint tell you, Papa Boss?"
"They don't need to tell me anything," he said. "As someone who executed the same forbidden spell a few years ago, I can tell whether you did it or not."
Saint Macaroni told her about Her Royal Highness Princess Nichole who was forced to sacrifice her life for her father.
"Are you trying to gain my sympathy, Princess Neoma?"
She laughed at his accusation. "Papa Boss, never in a million years would I try to gain your sympathy. I know that you don't have a heart. Much more empathy."
He raised a brow, obviously offended. But he also probably knew that she just stated the obvious. Hence, he remained silent.
"I didn't agree with Nero's plan because my moral compass can't stomach it," she said. "But don't get me wrong, Papa Boss. I don't plan to die anytime soon. And you can't kill me either because Nero needs my Mana."
"That's right," he confirmed and that surprised her.
[Wow, someone is being agreeable tonight, huh?]
"The saint already told me about the Mana transfusion," the emperor said. "Apparently, only your Mana is suitable for Nero's body because your Mana is quite similar to your twin brother's."
She didn't make it obvious but she was relieved.
[It sounds like His Majesty doesn't have any intention to kill me.]
Now it was time to push her luck.
"Your Majesty, the Mana transfusion will happen once every month," she said. "I want to be compensated for that. But instead of gold coins, I want you to grant me a wish every time I give my Mana to Nero. So after the Mana transfusion tonight, I want you to give me something."
"What do you want?"
The emperor looked quite surprised by her request. "Do you understand that if I give back the commoner child's freedom, he will no longer be supported by the palace? I accepted the foxy boy in exchange of his servitude. If he becomes free, then there will be no reason for him to stay. That also means he can't be your butler anymore."
"I will hire Lewis as my butler and official personal knight once he's free," she said. "I will pay his salary using my own money. And my palace will provide everything that he will need."
"The royal knights will definitely get offended once you choose the foxy boy as your personal knight," he said firmly. "He's not even a squire. And most of all, don't forget that only nobles are allowed to be royal knights."
"Then change the law, Papa Boss," she said casually. "You're the emperor, aren't you?"
Emperor Nikolai gave her a dire stare, then he let out a deep sigh. "Fine, I will release the foxy boy. Once I do, he'll be your responsibility. Let's talk about his position when we get back to the palace."
Neoma smiled brightly. "Thank you, Papa Boss."
NEOMA woke up when she felt a warm hand on her cheek. When she opened her eyes, Nero's bright smile greeted her. "Hello, Big Brother," she said in a sleepy voice.
"I'm sorry if I wake you up, my precious Neoma," Nero, who sat beside her, said. "But how do you feel? You transferred some of your Mana to me so you must be tired."
She covered her mouth when she yawned. It kind of registered to her that she was laying on the bed beside Nero. They were in a different and more luxurious room this time. "I'm okay, Big Brother," she assured him. Then, she got up while looking at her twin brother worriedly. "You're already up. Do you feel better now?"
He nodded. "Thanks to your Mana, I'm feeling better now," he said, then he held her hand and placed it on his cheek. "Thank you for saving me, Neoma."
She pouted because she knew she didn't deserve his gratitude. "Mana transfusion is only a temporary solution, Big Brother."
"Don't worry, Neoma," he assured her, the he squeezed her hand. "I already made sure that His Majesty will never let anything bad happen to you."
"What did you threaten Papa with, Big Brother?"
"You don't have to worry about it, Neoma," he told her with a smile. But then, he suddenly fell gloomy. "His Majesty was here a while ago. He said you'll leave the temple once you wake up. Apparently, both of you have to be back to the palace before dawn breaks."
"Don't be sad, Big Brother," she comforted him. "I will call you every night. And we'll meet once a month for your Mana transfusion, too. Plus, everything is temporary. Once you're fully healed, we can be together in the palace again."
That seemed to cheer him up. "Be careful in the palace, Neoma," he told her. "If His Majesty does anything to you, don't hesitate to tell me."
"Thank you, Big Brother," she said in a sweet voice. "But don't worry too much about me. I can take care of myself now."
[Plus, if the sc*mbag puts my life in danger again, I'll throw the whole man away.]
"Why do you sound so confident?" he asked in an amused voice. "Did you find a way to blackmail His Majesty?"
She couldn't tell him about the deal that he made with the emperor.
So she just made the first excuse that entered her now exhausted mind.
"I have a butler-slash-knight now, Big Brother," she told him cheerfully so he wouldn't worry too much about her. "Lewis is only three years older than us but he's very dependable. He's a little weird but he's a good boy. Plus, he's very strong so I know that he can protect me."
"A boy around your age has become your butler and knight?" he asked with a somewhat eerie smile. "And his name is Lewis. Is that right?"
She nodded, but for some reason, her twin brother's smile was making her feel nervous. "Yes, his name is Lewis. Why do you ask, Big Brother?"
"Oh, nothing," Nero said, his smile became wider but also creepier. "I can't wait to meet Lewis and thank him for protecting you, my precious Neoma."
Neoma smiled but deep inside, she was getting a little paranoid.
[Why does it sound like Nero is threatening Lewis?]
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