I’ve never been that embarrassed in front of anyone. I don’t care that my grandmother calls me names if I’m alone. I can take it. But I don’t want others to see how miserable I am. Especially the one I love.
Erik loses it.
“Listen, lady, you’re not going to treat Ryuuto like shit,” he starts shouting to the phone.
“I happen to be his boyfriend,” he says proudly and I love him even more for that.
“Ooh, I’ve always suspected you’re a disgusting queer,” Grandma throws a tantrum. “And now the world is going to be full of freaks. It’s all over the news. I’m not going out to see freaks everywhere, send me money for at least a month of deliveries.”
I’m not able to reason with her. She’s always been horrible to me but this is just too much.
“O-okay, Grandma, I will. Bye,” I say faintly and hastily hang up because I can hear she’s taking a deep breath for spurting more insults.
“Why did you give in to her ridiculous demands?” Erik is raging.
She’s my only family, I switch to telepathy again because it feels easier.
That doesn’t give her the right to treat you this way!
It’s not so simple, Erik. She’s bipolar so she can’t help it.
Don’t justify it, I bet she was always like this towards you.
I don’t care that much anymore. I have you now. I feel like I can take anything.
Oh, Ryuu, it just hurts me when you feel so down, he shakes his head.
Sorry, am I draining you? I worry.
That’s not what I mean, dummy, he caresses my face and puts a few locks of my hair behind my ear. It’s grown again, at least three more centimetres are silver. I actually like knowing how you feel. Please, don’t ever close up to me again, okay?
“I love you,” I say, this time aloud. After all, I promised during my transformation that I won’t be hesitant to say it anymore.
“I know,” he smirks.
If I could, I’d jump. Erik knows the old classical Star Wars movies? B-but… he isn’t even a geek! He starts laughing.
“Okay, that had the intended effect,” he says, pleased with himself. “I saw those films during a school movie night. The love catchphrase sounded so funny that I remembered it. Never have I thought it’d come in handy.”
We spend a few minutes just hugging and kissing. Erik sure has a soothing effect on me. Then I suddenly realise that I didn’t bathe since I came here. I turn red—I must stink, yuck!
I want to take a shower, I send him an urgent thought.
Thought so, he replies and chuckles. Not that you smell that horribly but you need it.
He’s getting really good at our telepathic communication. He willingly makes the thoughts he wants to send to me much stronger.
He picks me up and takes me to the bathroom. It’s so fancy that there’s a shower AND a bath tub. Erik doesn’t have to ask, he goes for the bath right away. He turns on hot water, we wait for a while for the tub to fill in and then he undresses me, taking off my bandages as well. He puts me in and hops after me.
“Don’t wet my wings,” I tell him, a bit alarmed, when he grabs a washcloth.
“Don’t worry, I won’t,” he assures me. “I’ll just wash the sweat and residual blood around them, okay? Besides, you’re healing surprisingly fast. Your metabolism is probably overcompensating.”
I’m glad that I can’t see my back right now. It hurts when Erik starts washing it but he’s really careful so I don’t whine much.
“It’s not as bad as it looked before,” he tells me, his voice calming. “The scars might be much smaller than we originally thought. Fifteen centimetres, no more.”
“Do you like how I look now?” I’m almost afraid to ask.
“You’re still you,” he smiles. “Can’t you read that in my mind?”
“I want you to say it aloud,” I blush. “Still… I guess… I’m not human anymore.”
“Well, I can’t oppose that,” he says but his hands don’t stop washing my back. “Do you want me to wash your hair?”
“Oh, please,” I plead. “I feel greasy.”
He studies every lock of my silver hair while washing it.
“Nothing can’t be further from your original black,” he comments but I can feel he likes my new colour.
When he’s done washing me, he washes himself quickly as well and then changes the water in the tub. Something tells me Liana won’t mind that we consumed too much. We even find some foam so we put it in to create a bubble bath.
We continue cuddling until I realise Erik got hard and is thinking only about one thing. My double-edged telepathy turns against me and I immediately feel horny as well. But it’s not only that. I overflow with happiness when I realise that I still attract him.
“T-touch my wings,” I let out and my new limbs are trembling. I’m surprised I want to be touched there so badly.
He’s hesitant at first, afraid he might hurt me. He touches me very gently and when I don’t complain, he plays with different kinds of petting—trying it slow, a little bit faster and pushing his fingers under my little fluffy feathers. I caress his cock in return.
Then he, cautiously, tries to caress the area between my wings that stayed intact. In the game, it was my race’s weak spot so I should be guarding it but it turns out I’m extremely sensitive there. I cry in pleasure and climax. My excitement goes through our telepathic connecting to him and he orgasms at the same time.
“R-Ryuu, look,” Erik exclaims, his breath erratic.
I open my eyes to discover that there’re huge soap bubbles floating all around us.
“Magical,” I whisper.
“You did it,” he kisses me.
The bathroom door suddenly bursts open.
“What the hell is going on in here?” Fefnir runs into the bathroom.
“There’re bubbles all over the hall!” Hana is panicking while Ingri looks amused.
They freeze and stare at us. I turn red, Erik rolls his eyes and tries to hide me under a towel.
“Well, this is so NOT totally unexpected of you two,” Fefnir smirks while touching one of the bubbles. “How did you do it?”
“I don’t know, a spur of the moment I guess,” I say truthfully, still red with embarrassment.
“So magic is confirmed again,” Ingri’s looking at the bubbles with astonishment. “You must have produced some low level air spell into the water.”
“Ehm… some privacy here?” Erik loses his patience.
They reluctantly leave. Fefnir is looking disappointed that he couldn’t burst every single bubble, Ingri is dreamingly staring at us and Hana just utters: “I’ll send the cleaning service after you’re done.”
“Damn, it’s so…,” I’m looking for the right word while staring at my growing follower count. It’s risen to 89 million.
“Mind-blowing?” Erik helps me.
“Well, I got many haters as well,” I sigh but it’s no surprise.
I feel overwhelmed so I switch off all Vortex notifications on my phone. Three hours ago, right after our shower, I entrusted Ingri my login details and let her take care of my social media completely. She seemed eager to take that task and asked Hana for a tablet to borrow. The housekeeper gave her the newest model and told her she can keep it. That’s Liana’s wealth for you.
My phone beeps but this time it’s not Vortex but a regular text message.
Hey… ehm… I saw you. Obviously. I just want to say that I’m cool with that.
Crap, I try to hide my phone but Erik is quicker and glances at the screen. I feel he’s getting pissed but he sighs out and calms down.
“Your previous lover?” he asks plainly.
“Y-yeah,” I nod. “Sorry, I wanted to end it with him after we became a thing but I didn’t have a chance.”
“I understand,” he’s surprisingly calm about it. “Do it now then.”
“N-now?” I flinch.
Another message arrives shortly after the first one.
You know, I actually adore your wings. I imagine you’re even cuter with them. Can we do it when you recover? I totally wanna try.
“Now, Ryuu!” Erik purses his lips.
“O-okay,” I admit I have to end this right away so that I don’t give Filip false hopes.
I liked him so out of respect towards him, I make a proper phone call. I thank him for our time together and mention I have a boyfriend now.
“Good for you, Ryuuto,” Filip’s reaction surprises me. “So you finally opened up to someone?”
“Ehm… was I that obvious?” I sigh.
“Totally,” Filip answers. “I’m really happy you’ve found someone decent.”
“Thank you. Goodbye, Filip, I wish you all the best,” I say sincerely.
“Good luck, my cute nerd, you’ll need it,” he says and ends the call.
“Well, that was okay,” Erik is content. “Will you deal with the other guy?”
“I’ll wait until he writes to me first,” I shake my head. “I bet he needs time to process what’s happening. Oh, I’m cold again.”
Erik fetches the hoodie Ingri kindly adjusted for my wings.
“It seems right temperature will be very important for Celestials,” he says and helps me to put in on.
“We were wearing completely different clothes in the game. Do you want to see?” I grab my phone and show him my ingame picture.
“Wow, what a beauty,” he whistles. “Not that you’re not pretty in real life,” he quickly adds. “It’s just… that long silver hair and princess clothes do their job.”
“It’s not princess clothes,” I poke him. “It’s basically a fantasy version of kimono.”
“Sorry, I don’t see any difference,” he giggles but then he gets serious. “Oh, I almost forgot. So what was the deal with your Mom making you test VR?”
“I’ve been telepath since birth,” I clarify. “My Mom maybe knew why but hard to explain something like that to a four-year old. Anyway, too many emotions from strangers can give me a severe migraine but my Mom found out that I can’t feel anything when my brain is plugged in VR. So she used it as a reliever for me.”
“I see,” he approves now.
“But that won’t be possible anymore,” I note sadly. “To be honest, it makes me anxious. VR was the only way for my mind to truly rest if I don’t count sleep. Next time I get a headache, I won’t have my escape.”
“Painkillers?” Erik suggests.
“I was already overdosing,” I sigh. “And my body doesn’t take them well, they make me nauseous. I guess that’s why I’m so thin. There’re often times I can’t eat anything.”
“Oh, Ryuu, don’t worry, we’ll think of something,” he kisses me on my forehead which makes me feel his love even more strongly. “Maybe you’ll be able to connect again in the future?”
“I don’t know,” my wings tremble, mirroring how I feel. “VR helmets are designed for human brains but I’m not human anymore.”
“We might find some ways to train your telepathy,” he stays optimistic. I hope he’s right.
A soft knocking on the door. Erik says ‘come in,’ the door opens and Liana appears. She’s looking more rested even though she hardly slept five hours.
“Hi, Li. You didn’t have to wake up, I’m okay.”
“Nah, I can’t sleep properly during the day,” she says. “Besides, it’s already time for dinner and I’m starving. Can Hana bring food into your room again? I do have a nice dining room, of course, but you should stay in bed.”
“Sure,” I nod.
Three servants come in, bringing a small dining table and three chairs. They try not to stare at me but they inevitably do. But who can blame them?
Suddenly, I feel something strange from one of them, a woman in her thirties with short hair. Is it… guilt? Can she be the leaker?
Erik, I think it’s her, I say in my thoughts, panicking. That woman standing closer to the door.
Are you sure? he asks and clutches my hand.
I can’t be absolutely sure unless I touch her, I admit. But I feel the emotion of guilt. She’s hiding something.
How do we go about it without revealing your telepathy? Erik ponders.
In the meanwhile, the servants finish preparing our dinner and Fefnir and Ingri join us. Hana puts mine and Erik’s plate on a tray so that we can continue sitting on the bed. I’m relieved that I don’t feel anything strange from her. It would hurt Liana’s feeling if the leaker was her most trusted housekeeper.
As she’s putting down my plate, a small pendant slips out of her blouse. It’s a cross. So Hana’s Christian, huh? I hope that the fact there’ll be a whole angelic race on Earth soon won’t mess with her belief. We’re not angels from the Bible but the developers must have drawn their main source of inspiration from it. I don’t want to even think about possible future conflicts it might entail.
“Pretty white feathers,” Hana smiles at me. “Will everyone look like him, Miss Richter?”
“No, players could have their wings brown, sandy, variously patterned…,” Liana names. “Mine were and probably will be black. But I’m by no means a fallen angel, Hana,” she adds quickly.
“Don’t worry, Miss, I have nothing against black,” Hana reassures her.
“Aefener’s wings and hair colours are unique, though. White and silver were the Celestial royal colours in Draconia,” Liana explains because it’s evident Hana knows next to nothing about the game. She must have known that her employer plays it but that’s all.
“Royal?” Hana blinks, confused. “There were kings and queens in your game? And Mr. Ryuuto played as the King?”
“He was the Celestial Emperor,” Liana says. “And I was his viceroy.”
For a moment, I have no idea why Liana is explaining that to her. Then it hits me. She wants to see whether this information appears online because the public still doesn’t know about the connection between me and Laura Richter. There are three more employees in the room, setting our lunch and listening. And it seems Hana is actually plotting with Liana, playing a little charade. Oh, my viceroy is indeed so clever.
“What a trap,” Erik comments when the servants leave the guest room. “Are you sure you’re an angel? You seem more like the devil to me.”
“Zip it,” she throws a crumpled napkin at him.
Then we eat and are quiet for a while. Everyone focuses hard on chewing and choosing another helping. Erik has to feed me because I tire quickly but he doesn’t mind at all. On the contrary, he enjoys it. So does Ingri watching us.
This way you can’t be picky, Erik tells me in his thoughts.
Nooo, I hate mushrooms, I try to fight because he’s pushing a spoonful of them into my mouth.
You’re a vegetarian now so unless it’s not meat, you have to eat everything.
I catch Ingri intently staring at us. Except, this time it isn’t because we’re such an eye candy to her. She’s studying our expressions that keep changing depending on our current emotions and mental utterances. Shit, we need to be more careful. Telepathic connection isn’t as unrecognisable as I’d hoped.
Fortunately, Ingri gets distracted by her tablet beeping.
“My King and Queen are calling,” she announces and hastily gulps a mouthful.
“Connect them,” Liana nods and puts down her fork. Ingri positions the tablet on the table so that we’re all visible to the camera.
“Hi everyone,” a couple in their late twenties appears on the screen. Huh, not a conference call? They’re sitting next to each other like us? I notice their skin is changing colour to green, how surreal.
“Hi Twyla, hi Werden,” Liana greets them. “You also got together?”
“We didn’t have to,” Twyla smiles and they both show us their wedding rings.
“No way! You’re married in real life?” Fefnir drops his jaw. “I thought you were dating only virtually.”
“We’ve actually known each other since secondary school but that isn’t why we’re calling,” Werden coughs. “We’re beginning to… ehm… feel the nature I guess?”
“You’re getting your plant powers,” Fefnir says excitedly.
“Fefnir, I told you we’re not really plants,” Ingri slaps him.
“The point is… it seems we’ll really have our racial abilities here,” Twyla concludes. “What about you, Aefener?”
I look at Liana and she encouragingly nods.
“I can do telekinesis,” I confide and watch my Earthborn friends being astonished even though they were half-expecting that. “So far only accidentally.”
“You also did that bubble spell,” Ingri reminds me.
“What bubble spell?” Liana asks because she missed it.
“In the bathroom with Erik,” I explain. “I didn’t plan to do it, just happened.”
“And Erik is…?” Twyla is eyeing him and looking for signs of transformation. “One of us?”
“Erik is my boyfriend and no, he didn’t play Draconia,” I shake my head and clutch his hand.
You like saying that word, admit it, Erik teases me. Boyfriend… boyfriend… boyyyyyyfrieeeend.
Stop it, you! You’re distracting me.
Anyway, we decided it’s better to keep it secret for as long as possible,” Liana says. “You know how people are when facing something new and strange. It could put us in danger if it’s revealed that we can do magic and we’ll be totally vulnerable during our transformation. Aefener can’t even walk.”
“Agreed,” they both nod.
“We were also thinking about establishing some kind of conference for the players,” Werden suggests. “Right now we’re contacting each other through Vortex but that platform can’t be really used for planning and videoconferences with a lot of participants.”
“I was also thinking about something like that,” Liana says, thoughtful as always. “I’ll put my IT guys on the task.”
“Thank you, Laura,” Twyla smiles. “I never thought I would know such a famous person.”
“Nah, I’m still Liana to you,” she waves her hand.
I’m glad she thinks that way. My trusted viceroy. My… friend even in real life.
You’d be busted without her, Erik remarks. Half-joking, half-serious.
And he’s right.
“Mmm,” I stretch all my limbs which also includes wings now.
I slowly open my eyes, it’s morning. Erik isn’t lying next to me but I can feel him just a few metres away. The shower is on so there’s no doubt what he’s doing. I sit up and find out that I’m well-rested and feel much stronger today. We went to sleep early yesterday because Dr Stein showed up after dinner and insisted Liana goes to bed again.
“Where’s my phone?” I murmur, rubbing my eyes. “Oh, here is it,” I grab it and just a second later I realise that I took it floating in the air in front of me.
How the hell does telekinesis work? When I want to use it, I can’t. When I don’t really want to use it, it works automatically. Maybe I’m just thinking about it too much? Telekinesis isn’t spellcasting, it’s our main racial ability after all.
I take a deep breath and look at various items around me. I try to remember how it felt in the game. Celestial telekinesis isn’t used for combat because it can’t lift things that are too heavy so we were using is just for pure convenience in everyday life. Not that often, to be honest. New players were having fun with it for a few days but then it got boring.
Just move, I wish so! I try an effortless strategy and… items around me go into the air. Wow, success! I try touching the floating items and steer them how I want. I experiment with how many I can lift at the same time and it seems seven is the limit, or at least my current limit.
“Oh, cool!” Erik appears in the door, wrapped in a towel. “Did you get the hang of it?” he sits next to me on bed.
“Seems so,” I nod proudly. “It’s not that hard in the end. The point is not to overthink it.”
“So are you an angel and a mage?” he nudges me.
“Celestials aren’t really angels,” I repeat. “We don’t serve any god and we’re not peaceful creatures that just sing hymns in the clouds. We’re a race with its own culture just like other Draconia races.”
“It gives me goosebumps when you say ‘we’ as if I’m not included,” he hugs me, saddened. “Even though it’s true now.”
“I… I didn’t mean it like that, Erik,” I say quickly.
“I know,” he lowers his head, “but that doesn’t change current facts.”
My phone beeps. A message from Liana.
Come to my room. I’ve identified our leaker.
I gulp. Why do I feel it’s not going to be pretty?
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