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    Translated by Yonnee
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    On the bed, Sera couldn’t move at all. This was because Rosé and Ferre were lying on her stomach and her thighs respectively.

    They ignored the suggestion when she asked them if they could sleep in their bedroom, and the conclusion of that conversation was to make Sera their pillow. They thought that Sera felt good because she was soft.

    So this time, Sera took the twins to sleep at one corner of the study. Fortunately, the maids already expected this to happen and prepared a small bed that was enough for the two children to fit comfortably.

    It took a while before Rosé and Ferre fell asleep, even with Sera as their pillow. With their eyes opened wide, it wasn’t until the third time that Sera repeated the story of Pinocchio that they slipped into dreamland.

    Knowing how much effort was needed to put them to sleep, Sera tried to stay as still as possible. But because she continued to stay in the same position for a long time, her legs began to cramp.

    The clock was now also pointing to 9:15 PM. In other words, it was time for her report to Emperor Helios about how the day went with his siblings.

    Sera glanced at Rosé and Ferre, who were lying on her body. Unlike their angelic sleeping faces, the prank that they pulled today was really cruel.

    “A cockroach… That was really horrible, Your Highnesses.”

    “Uu… mmm.”

    Rosé and Ferre squirmed in their sleep, perhaps hearing Sera’s murmur.

    Have a sweet dream just like the chocolates you ate today. Ferre’s mouth was open, and drool trickled out, creating a small stain on Sera’s belly.

    ‘If I look at them like this, they’re still babies. They look like sleeping angels.’

    “What dream do you have, Your Highness Ferre?”

    Sera carefully wiped Ferre’s drool. Then, careful not to jostle them, she sat up and replaced herself with fluffy pillows so that they wouldn’t wake up.

    Rosé and Ferre tossed and turned a few times, but fortunately, they remained asleep.

    “I guess you’re already in the middle of a pleasant dream.”

    Sera stroked Rosé and Ferre’s hairs once, then quietly left the room.

     

    * * *

     

    In front of the Star Palace, someone other than Jean was waiting. Although they had never formally introduced themselves to each other, Sera knew that he was Raphael, the aide who was always by the Emperor’s side.

    “I am Raphael Dempsey, His Majesty’s aide. I will be guiding you today.”

    Just as expressionless as he was when he visited her house with His Majesty, he held himself with flawless composure and spoke with a clear tone. With black hair and equally dark eyes, his features exemplified his unapproachable demeanor.

    “I guess Sir Knight is busy today.”

    “Jean is His Majesty’s training partner for the day.”

    “Training?”

    “Yes, swordsmanship training.”

    Raphael, who continued to speak in an even, stern tone, never turned to look at her once throughout this conversation.

    “Does His Majesty train often?”

    “That’s right.”

    Sera could no longer speak to him. Raphael kept answering her in a clipped manner, so it seemed like she was only bothering him with her questions. And anyone who had eyes could see that he looked angry because of his expressionless face.

    ‘I should stay quiet.’

    Sera walked silently without saying a word, the atmosphere around her unsettlingly awkward.

    “……”

    “……”

    Why did the path towards Central Palace seem so long? The Imperial Palace of Adelio was indeed spacious, but the time needed to get to her destination seemed to be much different from when it was Jean who guided her there.

    Frustrated after walking in silence for a long while, Sera tried to strike up a conversation again.

    “His Majesty must be good at swordsmanship, huh?”

    She glanced over at Raphael, who just continued walking ahead. He definitely had no expression earlier, but just now she saw a flash of a smile on his lips. The slightly raised corner of his lips looked like a good enough sign.

    As expected, Raphael couldn’t hide how proud he was of the Emperor.

    “…His Majesty doesn’t usually like training his swordsmanship, but he’s remarkable at it. Of course, our Empire’s one and only Emperor can do anything. His Majesty has perfect command over everything, whether it be literary or martial arts.”

    In an instant, Raphael’s eyes sparkled in eagerness at boasting about Helios.

    ‘I thought he wouldn’t even answer me… Did I pick the right topic? I can’t believe he likes His Majesty so much. He seems so austere, but maybe Raphael’s a fun person to be around, too.’

    However, Sera couldn’t even respond to his words first. While she was distracted with her own thoughts, she noticed that he had slowed down and was right in front of her.

    Earlier, she had to sort of run after him to catch up to his large strides, being the tall man that he was. As she matched his pace, trying to catch her breath, he looked at her with an impassive expression and continued speaking.

    “His Majesty is good at everything. He had manifested his mana and divine power while he was still young, and he has a tender heart. There is no one other than him who is more fit to rule the Empire.”

    “His Majesty sure is amazing. Divine power is an extremely rare ability, too.”

    Excessive praise, unconditional compliments—it was an occupational hazard. Her lips moved on their own.

    Raphael slightly looked towards Sera as she said this. She only had a glimpse of it, but it seemed like he had a smile of satisfaction.

    From then on, there was no need to worry about an unbearably quiet walk towards the Central Palace. Raphael pretended not to show it, but he was really excited about the topic and it was him who mostly led their conversation.

    “So, isn’t the fact that His Majesty has divine power justification for thinking that God must love him? Strong divine power could even heal wounds and afflictions, and since His Majesty has so much divine power, it must mean that God especially cares for him.”

    Raphael poured out these words like a machine gun, praising Helios without any brakes. He spoke so fast that Sera almost couldn’t understand what he was saying most of the time, so she just nodded.

    “Also, His Majesty has been proficient in reading and writing the Adelio Empire’s national language since he was four years old. By the time his fifth birthday had passed, he could already wield mana freely. And since his childhood, he’s already been shining so brightly, and he became only more dashing as he grew up. At the age of 16, he’s already stolen the hearts of women and men of the Empire here and there. Don’t you agree, Miss Popo?”

    But Sera still couldn’t answer Raphael. No, to be exact, Raphael didn’t give her room to answer.

    Raphael was already so immersed in his story telling. Sera reacted without paying much attention to the details.

    Most of what he said was his praise and respect for Emperor Helios, and he also mentioned his strong friendship with him since their childhood.

    Sera could have succumbed to her laziness and just answered half-heartedly, but instead, she expressed a great sympathy to the aide’s words, and she answered, “Yes, yes!” and “That’s so cool!” and “His Majesty is such a great man!”

    Raphael was satisfied with her responses. In the end, the strict demeanor he extended to her had been reversed, and here, he grabbed both her hands.

    “Aide Raphael.”

    Slightly embarrassed by his actions, Sera called his name as she looked at their hands.

    Raphael’s face was heated up with excitement. Unlike the usual cold impression, both his cheeks were flushed red.

    On this fine evening, under the illumination of a streetlight inside the Imperial Palace, a young man and a young woman were holding hands beneath countless stars.

    They were at a garden in the palace, and it was a picturesque scene that could be mistaken as a moment of intimate confession if a stranger ever came across the sight.

    “Miss Popo, I think we’ll be great colleagues.”

    Raphael clasped her hands tightly.

    With an awkward smile on her lips, Sera could only nod in return.

     


     

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