Chapter 866 BROKEN HEARTS
[IT'S HARD to be a mother, huh?]
Neoma had adopted many children in this lifetime.
Among them, Lewis was the most precious to her.
But now that Vitu was here…
[I'm such a bad mother. How did Mama Boss treat me and Nero equally that I never thought she was being unfair?]
She was new to this, but she had to do what she thought was right.
"Vitu, don't be rude to Lewis," Neoma said in a slightly scolding tone. "And Lewis is someone I will never NOT need."
Lewis' face lit up.
But Vitu suddenly teared up. Not only that. Her baby boy also shrunk until he became the child that Neoma met before.
Oh my god.
[My baby became a real baby again!]
Now Neoma felt like the worst mother in the world.
"I'm sorry, Mommy," Vitu said between sobs. "Are you mad at me?"
Neoma was about to kneel and hug Vitu, but Ruto suddenly stood beside her.
"Why are you crying?" Ruto scolded Vitu in a cold and firm voice. "And why are you saying sorry only to your mother? Use your words and not your tears when apologizing, Vitu."
Neoma was upset with Ruto, but she couldn't call him out in front of their baby.
[I mean, he's still Vitu's father. He has the right to discipline our child. But I'll have a stern talk with him later. He didn't need to be so cold to our baby!]
However, it seemed like Ruto's strictness worked.
Vitu stopped crying and wiped the tears off his face with the sleeves of his clothes.
[Our baby listens well to his father, huh?]
"I'm sorry, Brother Lewis," Vitu said while looking up at Lewis with big, teary eyes. "I was rude and mean."
Lewis looked taken aback, then his gaze fell to the floor. "Okay. Sorry, too."
Lewis' sentences weren't exactly incoherent, but they were poorly constructed. His tone was polite, but his words weren't. It was as if the fox held back from acting rudely.
Neoma was shocked because it only meant one thing.
[Lewis doesn't like my baby!]
It was shocking.
Neoma was distracted when Vitu tugged at the hem of her clothes. When she looked down at her baby, her heart melted when she saw him raising his tiny arms as if he was asking her to carry him in her arms.
[It's official: Vitu is the cutest baby in the world.]
"Mommy, I apologized to Brother Lewis," Vitu said, his face looking so angelic at the moment. "Did I do a good job?"
Look at those round, bright eyes of her baby boy.
"You did well, baby," Neoma praised her child. "Thank you for admitting you were wrong. Next is self-reflection, okay?"
Vitu smiled and nodded. "Okay, Mommy!"
Then the baby boy turned to his father.
"Daddy, I stopped crying immediately," Vitu said proudly. "Are you proud of me?"
Neoma glared at Ruto, warning him not to say or do anything that might hurt Vitu's feelings again.
Ruto slowly avoided Neoma's gaze, then he faced Vitu and gently patted the child's head. "Good job, kid."
[Gosh. Would it kill him to call Vitu 'baby?' He makes it sound like Vitu is a random child.]
But then again, Papa Boss used to call Neoma a 'little rogue' and Nero a 'ruffian' affectionately.
"You look like a picture of a happy family…"
It was Dahlia.
And it seemed like the Black Witch said those words out loud accidentally.
After all, Dahlia covered her mouth with her hands when she gasped.
[The mood suddenly turned… sour.]
Trevor, whose dark purple eyes were glowing menacingly, scoffed.
Neoma felt a chill down her spine.
This was the first time she saw Trevor that angry…
… and hurt.
[Trevor is hurt.]
It kind of shocked Neoma because Trevor would usually act goofy even after she rejected him flatly.
But, this time, the demon seriously looked mad.
"I'm happy to see you again, Princess Neoma," Trevor said indifferently, addressing Neoma politely this time instead of calling her his 'Moon Princess.' "But I must go now in order to gather the ingredients needed to revive you. See you later, Your Imperial Highness."
And, just like that, Trevor disappeared on his own volition.
Dahlia, who was obviously blaming herself for Trevor's mood swings, looked like she was about to cry. "I'm s-sorry, Princess Neoma…"
"You have nothing to apologize for, Dahlia," Neoma said, shaking her head. "Trevor is responsible for his own feelings. You didn't say anything wrong anyway."
Even after she said that, the Black Witch still didn't look convinced.
[She's such a soft-hearted kid.]
<"I hate to interrupt, but I must send the other children back to their vessels. You also don't have much time left in this world, little princess.">
"I guess it's time for us to part ways here," Neoma said, addressing her people. "Everyone, I know I put a burden on you when I shared the Eternal Flame with you. I also know that I always tell you not to do things you don't want to do. Despite that, I went ahead and gave the Eternal Flame the permission to reject your refusals if the reason you gave was related to me."
She just knew that her people would reject the Eternal Flame.
After all, her people were all smart and quick-witted.
[I know that they'll realize right away that sharing the Eternal Flame with them would mean my control of the flame would weaken.]
And yes, Neoma knew her people that well.
"Forgive me this once for forcing my decision on you," Neoma said, smiling apologetically at them. "And please help me."
"Neoma, that's something you shouldn't have to ask from us," Hanna said, smiling at her. "We're always at your service."
Lewis, who looked awkward for some reason, nodded in agreement with what Hanna said.
"The Stars have told me before that once I found the path that I believe would lead me to a better world, then I must follow it without hesitation," Dahlia said shyly. "Princess Neoma, please continue guiding me to the right path."
"I can't be your sword nor your shield because you already have both," Jasper oppa said, grinning at Neoma. "But I will always be your big brother, Princess Neoma. You're welcome to whine and act like a child around me."
To say that she was touched would be an understatement.
These people never really failed to make Neoma feel loved and appreciated.
"I'll return with a bang, everyone," Neoma promised her people with a smile. "See you in the living world later– I'll show you my love and gratitude in the most epic way possible."
"WELCOME BACK, Trevor."
Trevor only remembered that he collapsed while he was in the Cosmic Tree's garden when he woke up and found himself lying down on a bed made of leaves.
[This makes me feel like I'm a fairy.]
"Are you alright?"
Trevor got up before he answered Empress Mona's question. "Not really, Your Majesty. But I can still function."
Empress Mona, who was sitting on the chair next to the leaf bed, looked visibly worried. "Did something bad happen with the Eternal Flame?"
Trevor fell silent for a moment, then he clutched his heart tight. "Princess Neoma is fine, Your Imperial Majesty," he assured the empress because he knew the empress was worried about her precious daughter. "But why does Princess Neoma's happiness hurt me this much?"
Hanna didn't dare to look in Lewis' direction when her soul returned to her body.
She didn't have to look to know that the fox was crying.
[Neoma looked so happy with Ruto and Vitu. It's clear that Neoma wouldn't change her mind about Ruto anymore.]
To simply say, Neoma had rejected all her suitors today.
"Take your time, Lewis," Hanna said softly while patting Lewis' back. "Come out when you're ready. I'll take care of the "guests" outside first."
Lewis only sobbed quietly.
She left the room and went straight to the balcony to see what was going on outside.
Much to her surprise, she saw Queen Lisica and Lord Rustin barely holding back a group of Silver Foxes.
To be precise, those were reanimated corpses of dead Silver Foxes.
[That one is alive.]
Hanna was surprised when she saw a living female Silver Fox among the bunch.
"If you're here, then Lewis Crevan must be there, too," the female Silver Fox said, obviously delighted. Then she opened her arms as if asking for a present. "Hand him over to me!"
[That woman isn't worth my attention.]
Hanna didn't have time to entertain the female Silver Fox as she was busy assessing the situation.
Queen Lisica and Lord Rustin looked exhausted. They were already Spirits, so they wouldn't die.
However, the two old Silver Foxes were fighting reanimated corpses of their kin.
[I can't imagine their pain.]
"Who do you think you are to ignore me?!"
It was the female Silver Fox.
In just the blink of an eye, the female Silver Fox was already standing on the rail of the balcony while looking down at Hanna with glowing golden eyes.
"Who do you think I am?" Hanna snapped, her green eyes glowing menacingly. "I'm your future empress, so know your place and bow down to me."
Then Hanna used her Shadow to force the female Silver Fox on her knees.
DAHLIA gasped because as soon as she opened her eyes, the first thing that greeted her was Emperor Nikolai's stoic face.
She immediately got up and got down on her knees.
"You shouldn't be moving abruptly yet, Dahlia," Emperor Nikolai said. "But I'm glad that you're up."
Dahlia nervously looked around.
That was when she noticed the strange blue lights around her.
"Your Imperial Majesty, aren't these…"
"Yes, the lights you see are coming from the Moonglow," Emperor Nikolai said grimly. "To be precise, those lights are from Nero's Moonglow."
Dahlia could tell that she was still in Prince Nero's bedroom, but the Crown Prince was no longer there.
That only made her feel more nervous.
"Nero is in the throne room," the emperor said as if he could read her mind. "The throne has summoned him."
Dahlia gulped, clenching her hands tight. "I-Is it time for Prince Nero to ascend the throne, Your Imperial Majesty?"
The emperor fell silent for a moment before he opened his mouth again. "Dahlia, do you know what all the emperors of the past had in common when they ascended the throne?"
She didn't answer because she knew the emperor wasn't waiting for her response.
And she couldn't think straight anyway.
"All of them– no, all of us were already married when we sat on the throne," Emperor Nikolai said, his face darkened. "It's a requirement for the next emperor to be married before ascending to the throne."
But Princess Hanna wasn't there to marry Prince Nero.
So, it could mean one thing.
Dahlia felt cold suddenly. "Your Imperial Majesty, I will not marry the Crown Prince."
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