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23 Moonflowers

 TILLY woke up alone in the bed.

But she wasn't really surprised. Back in her previous life, she always woke up alone. That was because Kiho would always wake up early for his morning training.

[He's probably swinging his sword or something.]

She got up and washed her face first. Then, she put her robe on while walking towards the huge window.

In her second life as Matilda Yap in the modern world, she would start her morning with a coffee. Then, she would either run around the exclusive village where she lived or go to the gym to exercise. After that, she would go to the office for work.

[This world has coffee but in our empire, tea remains the number one drink.]

Also, she couldn't just run or exercise even in her father's estate. As a duke's daughter, she was a noble lady who had to uphold her dignity. The only exercise she was allowed to do was walking. That was why she would take a long walk in their garden after every meal.

[But I miss running and exercising.]

She tried to do yoga once but when Isabelle and the other maids saw the "weird" positions she did, they made a fuss. According to them, those moves were very "unladylike."

[I envy you, Kiho.]

Tilly put her elbows on the windowsill while holding her face with her hands.

From her standpoint, she could clearly see Kiho in the courtyard. Like she expected, he was practicing his sword swinging. Just like what she remembered in the past, his movements were small and precise. No unnecessary moves at all.

[Look at his posture...]

Ah, she could also see Damian, Whitton, and Blake running around the courtyard but she could barely pay attention to the three.

How could she see other men when Kiho was so gorgeous it was almost blinding?

[Yeah, I wanted to punch my past life for ignoring a man like Kiho.]

The captain wasn't a 'snack,' he was the whole f*cking course meal.

[Kiho is so sexy.]

The captain seemed to notice her ~lustful~ gaze because he stopped swinging his sword to turn to her direction.

Tilly smiled and waved at Kiho.

Kiho put his sword back in the holster.

Then, he suddenly disappeared.

[Wait, what?]

A few blinks later, Kiho suddenly appeared before her. He was squatting on the windowsill while holding onto the frame. And his face was only a breath away from hers.

[So handsome.]

"Good morning, baby," Kiho greeted her in his low, husky voice. "Did you sleep well?"

Tilly couldn't help but hold his face in her hands. "Crazy. How can someone be this good-looking? You're prettier than me, Kiho."

"That's not true," he said. "You're the most beautiful to me, Tilly."

She smiled and rewarded him with a light kiss on the lips. "It's a good morning, indeed."

The captain swiftly jumped off from the windowsill. Then, he stood in front of her to give her a proper kiss. You know, the deep and long kind that made her moan into his mouth.

"Ah," Kiho said when he broke the kiss. But his arms remained around her shoulders. "Is it okay with you if we leave after breakfast?"

She nodded, her arms still wrapped around his waist, too. "Yes. You need to report to His Majesty as soon as we return to the Royal Capital, right?"

He just nodded as confirmation. "Tilly, should you move into my residence once we return?"

"I'd love to," she said. "I'll pack my things as soon as I get home."

His face immediately lit up. "That would be nice."

"Kiho, is there a space in your residence that I can use to exercise?" she asked, giving him the cutest puppy dog eyes that she could muster at the moment. "And is it possible to have my alone time when I'm doing my work out? I don't want your servants to disturb me."

She couldn't have those things back at her father's estate. Her maids wouldn't even leave her for a second. She understood that they were only doing their jobs. But still, it was very suffocating for her.

It was okay during her first life. But when she experienced life in the modern world, she started to crave for freedom in this world.

"I can arrange that," Kiho said. "If it's only an hour or two, then I suppose it's okay to have your alone time. I'll make sure you're safe in my residence."

"Thank you, baby."

"I'm surprised to know that you like exercise," he said. "Do you want to join my morning routine? I usually run a few laps around the estate."

She blinked in surprise by his offer. "Really? You're not going to ask me why I need to work out?"

"People usually work out to keep their bodies healthy, right?" he asked, obviously confused by her question. "Do you have other reasons for doing so?"

Well, to be honest, she had another agenda aside from health benefits.

She needed her body to be flexible enough for sex.

[Yes, sex.]

In her previous life, even though she didn't love Kiho, she enjoyed making love with him. He was just so good in bed. But her past self wasn't as physically fit as she was in her second life. She would always had body pain because of... uh, the "activities" she did with her husband while in the sheets.

"Tilly, are you okay?" Kiho asked in a worried voice. Then, he placed a hand on her cheek. "Your face is red and warm." His eyes widened in worry. "Are you feverish?"

"No," Tilly denied. "I'm just hungry."

[Hungry for you, baby.]

***

"KIHO, you spent a fortune on these, didn't you?" Tilly asked while gazing down at the beautiful dresses and jewelries on her bed. Those were the souvenirs from Pillas Islands that Kiho got for her. The materials of the clothes were obviously high-quality, and so were the jewelries. "Isn't this a bit too excessive?" she asked, then she turned to him.

"Not at all," Kiho said. His face looked stoic but she could clearly see that he was worried about her reaction. "Did you not like my presents, Tilly?"

"Oh, I liked them," she said with a smile. "Thank you, Kiho."

He looked relieved. "You're welcome."

Currently, they were in her room in her father's mansion.

When they arrived there, Kiho brought out all the gifts he had for her. It was in another carriage so she didn't see the presents until he brought it out. She asked her servants to bring everything to her room so here they were now.

"I need to go," Kiho said. "Just call me when you're ready to move in. I'll free my schedule tomorrow so I can go and pick you up."

"Okay," she said, then gasped when she remembered something. "Kiho, I'm sorry but can we change our schedule? I'll move in to your house the day after tomorrow. Is that okay?"

"It's fine with me," he said. "Do you have work tomorrow?"

"I want to visit the child that I bumped into the plaza," she said. "I wasn't able to properly say goodbye to him so I want to see him again."

Once she arrived at Kiho's mansion, she'd be busy with her bridal lessons and she wouldn't have time to go out.

She didn't know why but there was something about Flint that she was curious about. It didn't look like he was lying to her. The child had eyes as clear as Kiho's. That meant those were the eyes of a person who couldn't and wouldn't lie.

[I want to hear the boy's stories about Fire Mages.]

She also didn't know why she was so drawn to the Fire Mages despite Kiho's warning.

[I don't want Kiho to worry so I won't tell him about it.]

"Do you want me to accompany you?" Kiho asked. "Mount Elea is quite far from the Royal Capital."

"You have work," she reminded him. "And you're the Black Serpents' captain. You have to work hard and earn a lot for our family, okay?"

"I understand," he said. He seemed pleased by what she just said. "I'll earn a lot to spoil you."

She giggled at that. "You can't take that back, Kiho."

"I won't," he assured her. "I'll ask Blake to accompany you tomorrow. Is that okay?"

She nodded as a response. "Kiho, you should really go. Don't make His Majesty wait."

"Alright," Kiho said. Then, he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her on the forehead. "Call me anytime you want, Tilly."

"I can't call you during work," Tilly said with a giggle. "Take care, Kiho."

***

"SO, HOW was your first night together?"

Kiho gave Emperor Aku a dire stare. They were currently in the throne room. Of course, the emperor was sitting on the throne while he stood before him. They were alone inside the chamber but Captain Sherwood was guarding outside.

[If I could hit the emperor, I would.]

"Oho," Emperor Aku said with a lazy smile. "Your looks tell me that you're trying to kill me in your head."

"No, I would never think of that, Your Majesty," Kiho answered politely. "But I once thought that if I would be given one last wish before I die, I'd use it to hit you once in the head."

The emperor laughed at his confession. "Kiho, you are so brutally honest. If my advisors heard you, they wouldn't let it slide."

He didn't comment on that.

"You're really no fun, Kiho," Emperor Aku said while shaking his head. "Did I overstep my boundary?"

"Your Majesty, I appreciate your effort to bring Lady Prescott and I closer," he said carefully. "But I'd like it if you don't ask questions regarding our progress. I don't want to speak about our relationship especially if she's not here. I'm not asking this as a knight."

He meant to ask that as the emperor's friend.

"Alright, I understand," the emperor said. Thankfully, he changed the subject after that. "So, did you get the pearl that you wanted?"

"Yes, Your Majesty," he said. "I'll bring it to a jewel maker later."

"Do you need a day-off for that?"

"No, Your Majesty. I can do that after work," he said. "But I'd like to ask for another break the day after tomorrow. Lady Prescott would be moving in to my residence that day."

"Oh, I'll approve it."

He bowed to the emperor. "Thank you, Your Majesty."

"I'm relieved that you're getting along well with Lady Prescott," Emperor Aku said with a genuine smile. "I know that it was me who asked you to marry her to fulfill the prophecy. I did that because if your future son really turns out to be a special existence to the empire, then the nobles would shut up about your background. But at the same time, I wanted you to marry for love. That's why I'm playing matchmaker." His smiled turned into a soft laugh. "But after seeing you now, I guess I don't need to meddle anymore."

"Thank you, Your Majesty."

The emperor was about to say something but he was interrupted by Captain Sherwood's voice from outside the room.

"Your Majesty, pardon my interruption," Captain Sherwood said behind the doors. "Her Royal Highness Princess Nia is here."

Emperor Aku's face instantly lit up. He was obviously delighted by the princess's arrival. "You're dismissed, Kiho," he said. "Work hard."

Kiho just bowed to the emperor before leaving the throne room.

As expected, he met Princess Nia on his way out. He hardly noticed other people around him but Her Royal Highness's existence was hard to ignore. To other people, the princess's beauty and elegance were the things they noticed right away.

But to Kiho, every time he looked at the princess, all he could see was a huge lump of Mana.

[Tilly, this is how powerful Her Royal Highness is.]

Anyway, the princess was accompanied by Captain Sherwood and Miss Lahara.

"Greetings to the brightest star of our Great Moonchester Empire," Kiho politely said to the princess with a bow.

"Rise, Captain Kiho," Princess Nia said with her gentle voice.

He did as he was told. He wanted to leave right away but it looked like the princess had something to say.

[I wonder if Tilly is resting now...]

"Captain Kiho?"

"At your service, Your Royal Highness," Kiho said politely.

"How is Lady Prescott?" Princess Nia asked with a hint of worry in her voice. "I hope she has fully recovered from her fever."

"Lady Prescott is fully recovered now, Your Royal Highness," he said. "Thank you for your concern."

"Oh, a leaf," the princess said while looking at his shoulder. "Let me get that for you."

Kiho knew that he shouldn't but when he saw the princess's hand reaching out to touch him, he instinctively moved away from her while brushing off the leaf from his shoulder. There was a forest that one must enter before reaching the royal palace. A leaf might have fallen when he was riding on his horse on his way to the palace a while ago.

"I apologize for my rudeness but I can't let Her Royal Highness do something as trivial as brushing a leaf off a lowly knight's shoulder," Kiho said as an excuse so he wouldn't embarrass the princess.

But the way Captain Sherwood and Lahara looked at him told him that they weren't happy that he avoided the princess's touch.

"You don't have to apologize, Captain Kiho," Princess Nia said kindly. "I was at fault, too, for suddenly invading your personal space."

"Not at all, Your Royal Highness," Kiho said, still as polite as possible.

"Your Royal Highness, we should hurry," Captain Sherwood said in his usual gentle tone. "His Majesty must be waiting."

"Alright," Princess Nia said to Captain Sherwood. Then, she turned to him. "See you next time, Captain Kiho."

Kiho responded with a bow.

After that, Princess Nia left with Captain Sherwood...

... While Lahara remained.

[Does she need something from me?]

"Child, aren't you being a little too arrogant?" Lahara asked him in a playful tone. But even though she was smiling, he could clearly see the glint of anger in her eyes. "You should be grateful that Her Royal Highness has a good heart. If you did something as disrespectful as that to a princess during my time, your head would have rolled off the ground instantly."

Lahara was a mage from the White Tower and that meant she was at least a century old.

But despite her age, her appearance was that of a young lady in her mid twenties. And even though she was wearing the Blue Dragon Knights' uniform, her aura and Mana still gave off the "mage feeling." Just look at her weapon of choice. Instead of a sword, a wooden cane was attached to her hip.

"I apologize," Kiho said because he knew he was wrong for avoiding the princess.

This would sound like an excuse but because of Princess Nia's unusually strong Mana, even her little movement could feel like an attack. That was why his reflex took over and avoided her touch. It was instinct.

"Child, do you know why I became one of the greatest mages of the White Tower?"

He nodded and when he realized she was waiting for his verbal answer, he spoke. "You're a descendant of the Blue Dragon Clan, Miss Lahara."

"Yes, that's right," Lahara said with a smirk, her eyes looking frenzied. Her Mana was also oozing out from her body as if she was threatening to attack him. "It will do you well to remember that I have dragon blood in me, child."

"So what?" Kiho retorted while unleashing his own Mana as defense. The air around him instantly turned cold while a layer of thin ice started to form on the ground under his feet. And even without looking at himself, he was pretty sure that his eyes were now glowing with gold light. "A dragon is just an extra large serpent."

***

"WHAT's that?" Tilly asked curiously when she saw a bunch of silver flowers in the vase on her night table. [Those flowers look familiar though...]

"Her Royal Highness Princess Nia sent those moonflowers this morning, Lady Prescott," Isabella said. "It came with a letter, too. Shall I get it for you, my lady?"

"Yes, please," she said to the maid. "Thank you."

Isabella bowed politely before going out of her room.

When she was finally alone in her chamber, she sat on the edge of her bed and took one of the moonflowers from the vase.

The flower's silver color reminded her of the Moonchesters' silver hair.

[Oh, now I remember why this flower looks familiar. There was a vase filled with in the room that I used in the princess's palace. And almost all the ladies in the empire knew that this is her favorite flower. How come I almost forgot it?]

Tilly brought the flower near her nose to breathe in the scent.

As soon as she did, she felt a joint of pain in her head the same time she heard an unfamiliar voice in her mind.

[Take the throne at all cost, Matilda Prescott!]

***

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