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29 Hot Damn

 [THIS is so embarrassing.]

Tilly woke up in a hospital and right now, she was glaring at the white ceiling above.

[Do you know how lame it is to collapse in the middle of making out?!]

But on a serious note, she was confused as to why her body was acting up. It didn't happen in her first life so she didn't know what exactly was wrong with her.

"Tilly?"

[Oh, it's Kiho.]

Tilly got up when she heard his voice. In the blink of an eye, Kiho was already by her side while putting a pillow on her back for her to lean against. "Thank you."

"How are you feeling?" Kiho asked while sitting on the edge of the bed. Worry was written all over his face. "Does your body still feel hot?"

"No," she said truthfully. "I feel okay. Where are we, baby?"

"We're in the Rosemary Hospital," he said. "Thankfully, we're already at Blanca when you fainted."

Ah, so they were still in the town of Blanca.

"Baby, do you need anything?" the captain asked, obviously worried about her. "Water? Food? Anything."

"I'm a little hungry."

"What do you want to eat?"

"Steak," she answered. "I want a huge steak and a good red wine to go with it."

"I like how you know exactly what you want," he said. Then, he gently brushed the strand of her on her cheek, then tucked them behind her ear. "I'm glad that I got out of work early."

Ah, right. She remembered Kiho telling her a while ago that he was able to follow them at Flint's house early because he finished his job quickly.

[I'm pretty sure he worked really hard just to pick me up.]

"I'll call the doctor," the captain said before standing up. "He said he'd like to talk to us about the condition of your Mana. Wait for a second, Tilly."

"Okay," she said.

A few moments later, Doctor McMillan came in with Kiho. She instantly recognized the short and plump gentleman with white hair. His most striking feature was his freckles and the scar on his chin. And surprisingly, he was also known for his gentle face.

The doctor was the viscount of House McMillan and a part of the Royal Faction. No wonder he looked extra friendly to her.

[Oh, right. Viscount McMillan owned the Rosemary Hospital.]

And that hospital catered to commoners, too.

Anyway, Kiho sat beside her when the doctor started to explain her situation.

"Lady Prescott, you fainted due to Mana exhaustion," Doctor McMillan said while standing in front of her with his hands behind his back. "Have you been overusing your magic ability these past few days?"

She gulped and slowly nodded her head. She could feel Kiho's questioning gaze but she tried her best to ignore it. "But I've used it for only, like, twice. So why did my body weaken?"

"Lady Prescott, I was one of the doctors who helped your mother gave birth to you," the viscount explained. "You were born with a body that can't handle too much Mana. It's a fortunate thing that your Mana is naturally weak. But even if you continuously use your magic ability, it will still take a toll on your body. Just like what happened now."

She was surprised to hear that her body couldn't handle her Mana. "Why didn't my father tell me about the condition of my body?"

But come to think of it, her father never failed to remind her not to use her Mana.

"Duke Prescott probably doesn't want to scare you," Doctor McMillan said. "But to be honest, the condition of your body isn't that serious so I understand why your father didn't tell you. As long as you don't overuse your Mana, you'll be fine."

"I understand, Doctor McMillan," she said. "I won't overuse my Mana again."

"Ah, aside from that, I advise that you refrain from vigorous activities until your body has fully recovered," the doctor said while looking meaningfully at her and Kiho.

[Vigorous activities?]

Her cheeks burned from embarrassment when she realized what the doctor meant by that.

"What do you mean by "vigorous activities," Doctor McMillan?" Kiho said, as clueless as ever. "Can you cite some example?"

She was about to ask the captain to stop asking questions but the doctor, who looked unfazed, answered right away.

"I'm talking about sex," Doctor McMillan said without missing a beat. Obviously, the doctor was used to discussing stuff like that to his patients. "I know that the two of you are engaged to be married and as adults, you're free to engage in intimate activities. But for the sake of Lady Prescott's fast recovery, please refrain from having sex for a while. You know what happens when two people with Mana had sexual intercourse, right?"

Right. In this world, when two people with Mana engaged in sex, the woman would absorb some of her partner's Mana as they became one. That was how their children would inherit both the Mana of their parents.

That meant that if she had sex with Kiho, she would take up some of his Mana (and everyone in the empire knew how strong his magical energy was). It wasn't hard to see how having sex with him would affect her body negatively now that she knew that she couldn't handle too much Mana.

[Ah, now I know why I would feel so exhausted every time we had sex in my past life. So aside from Kiho having a high sex drive, absorbing his Mana was also the reason why my body would feel heavy after our intimate moments.]

"I understand, Doctor McMillan," Kiho said, his face as red as an apple. "We'll be careful."

"But Doctor, would my body be able to handle decent amount of Mana if I become more physically fit?" Tilly asked intensely. "Exercising wouldn't hurt, right?"

"I like your enthusiasm, Lady Prescott," Doctor McMillan said with a soft laugh. "I'll prescribe an effective pill for you to stabilize your Mana. If you take them for a week, your body will be fit enough for light exercises."

Tilly smiled, satisfied by the doctor's diagnosis. "Thank you, Doctor McMillan."

***

"THEY look like candies," Tilly said in amusement while looking at the small jar of pills that Doctor McMillan gave her. The pills were round and kind of transparent. In fact, they looked like jellies. "I want to eat them all."

"You should only take three pills a day, Tilly," Kiho, who sat beside her, said strictly. "One every after meal."

Right now, they were back in the carriage and they were on their way to a restaurant for dinner. It was already dark outside. She was a little nervous because at this hour, she was sure that the duke was already home.

But she was really craving for steak and red wine. Plus, she was super hungry now. She couldn't wait to go home and eat so she'd risk it.

[I'll probably get scolded by my father later but food comes first.]

"Tilly, I'm sorry," Kiho said in a voice filled with remorse. He also looked sad, like a puppy that had been kicked by its owner. "I should have taken better care of you."

"Hey, don't say that," she said while caressing his face. "You did a good job taking care of me. It was my fault for exerting myself."

"But I don't understand how and why did you have to overuse your Mana," he asked in confusion. "And when did that happen?"

"I was just trying to find out what else could I do with my Mana," she lied. "I played around with my body temperature. I didn't know that it would strain my body."

"Please don't do that again, baby," the captain pleaded her.

"I won't," she promised. Then, she kissed him on the cheek. "I'm sorry for making you worry, baby. And thank you for being so good to me."

Kiho just held her hand and brought it close to his lips. Then, he placed a chaste kiss on her knuckles. "I'll take care of you forever, Tilly."

Tilly smiled and squeezed Kiho's hand. "And I'll protect you, Kiho."

[I'll protect our family this time.]

***

TILLY and Kiho were scolded by Duke Prescott, as expected.

Kiho took her home late because they had dinner first.

Her father demanded for an explanation. Kiho, as honest as ever, told the duke almost every single thing about their whole day. Thankfully, he omitted Doctor McMillan's advice about their (non-existent) sex life.

Her father was livid when he found out that she fainted again.

[Well, this time, I fainted for real. But no one else knew that I faked the first one so for Kiho and my father, this was the second time that I collapsed.]

Anyway, Duke Prescott had been so harsh to Kiho. He practically accused her fiancé of failing to look after her properly. Kiho silently accepted her father's long lecture. After that, the captain apologized to the duke again and again, then promised that he wouldn't let something bad happen to me again. Only then did her father let Kiho go home.

"Father, you didn't have to be so harsh to Kiho," Tilly complained to her father while they were having tea in her room. His father visited her to make sure that she would drink the medicine that Doctor McMillan prescribed. "It wasn't his fault that I fainted."

"Now that you're engaged to be married, you are each other's responsibility," her father said strictly. "And Kiho is a knight. I'm sure he knows that it's now his responsibility to make sure that you'll live a good life."

She just sipped her tea.

"Tilly, you shouldn't get close to Captain Denver."

Okay, that confused her. "Why not, Father? They're not our enemies."

"They're not our allies either," her father countered. "House Denver is in neutral stand. You shouldn't trust families who couldn't choose between the Royal and Noble Faction."

Gosh, the political war in this world was really insane.

"And Captain Denver is the master of the Fire Wielder Guild," the duke continued. "I personally don't want you to be associated with people with fire attributes."

She carefully placed the cup on the table. "Why, Father? Why do you not want me to be associated with them?"

"Nothing comes good from being close to the people of fire."

["People of fire?"]

"Father���"

"Don't ask questions," her father interrupted her. "Just do as I say."

"Yes, Father," she lied. "I'll keep that in mind."

[Just kidding! You just made me even more curious, Father. If you won't answer my questions, I'll find the answers myself.]

"And it would only harm your reputation if you get close to another captain when you're already engaged to Captain Kiho," the duke said sternly. "You're one of the highest-ranking noble ladies in the empire so you have to be careful all the time."

"I understand, Father."

"Anyway, I heard that you already received the land title of the property that you demanded from Sir Belington," he said, abruptly changing the topic. "What do you plan to do with it?"

"I'm planning to open up a business, Father."

"A business?" he asked with a knotted forehead. "But the property you got from Sir Belington is located at Komono."

If Aristo was the upscale part of Sky Plaza, then Komono was the opposite.

Well, she couldn't really say that Komono was for the poor. It would be more appropriate to say that it was the area for the nouveau riche (new money)- or people who have recently acquired wealth and noble titles.

[Right, now I remember. A few years ago, Emperor Aku passed a law that allows commoners to gain noble titles for their skills or abilities instead of inheriting it. The vieux riche (old money) were against it but the emperor got the support of the Royal Faction.]

The younger generation of the vieux riche at the emperor's side supported His Majesty's progressive ideals. Emperor Aku gained a lot from the new law because now, the majority of the nouveau riche had become a part of the Royal Faction.

In short, the power and influence of the Noble Faction were slowly weakening.

"Father, the nouveau riche will soon make the empire more prosperous. We're starting to enter a new era," Tilly said. She was confident because in her past life, she had witnessed the rise of the new money people. And even in this timeline, she could see that it would still happen again. "Now that the nouveau riche has started to enter the social circles, they are willing to spend money just to keep up with the vieux riche. I think it's time for businessmen like us to sell products that will cater to the new money folks. Items that are as elegant as the ones used by the old money families, but affordable. I believe that Komono is the perfect location for my target consumers."

Duke Prescott smiled and it was a huge feat for her. Plus, he looked really proud of her. So even if he didn't compliment her verbally, she was already contented with his reaction.

"What kind of products are you thinking of selling to the nouveau riche?" her father asked enthusiastically. "If it's doable, I might invest in your business."

She smiled before she answered. "Jewelries, Father. Jewelries and clothes that will surely become the next trend."

"What kind of jewelries and clothes?"

"The ones that Her Royal Highness would love," she said with a smile. "The princess has started to wear lighter dresses that expose the neck. The big and extravagant jewelries in the market right now don't fit light dresses. I want to introduce small but elegant jewelries that will match the future trend in ladies' clothes. To be precise, I want to focus on necklaces."

"Necklaces are the least popular jewelries based on the sales report of our jewelry shop."

"That's because most of the ladies still wear heavy dresses that cover the neck," she said. "But once the light dresses become the trend, necklaces are guaranteed to be popular as well, Father."

Her father nodded, obviously absorbed in her business proposal. "And why did you choose to introduce those products to the nouveau riche instead of the vieux riche?"

"House Prescott is a part of the Royal Faction," she said. "His Majesty supports the nouveau riche so I want to warmly welcome them to the high society, Father. By doing so, House Prescott could also show the emperor our loyalty."

Finally, Duke Prescott smiled. "I will invest in your business, Tilly."

"Thank you, Father," Tilly said, happy that she made her father proud. "I will make sure to give back your investment in double."

Tilly still didn't know how to protect herself from mind control. But she thought of three ways to make sure that Princess Nia couldn't easily touch her.

First, she would pretend that Her Royal Highness's had her under her clutches.

Second, she would suck up to Emperor Aku. If the emperor showed favor towards House Prescott, then maybe Princess Nia would think twice before laying a hand on her family.

And third, she planned to be the richest noble lady in the empire. Just because the royal family sat on the throne didn't mean that they were the richest. In short, the Moonchesters still need wealthy families to back them up.

To simply put, she wanted to be important enough not to be disposed easily.

[I'll make sure that my wealth would protect Kiho as well.]

***

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