“It’s not such a big deal, right?” I’m desperately trying to make light of it. “It was just a bit more windy than usual. Nothing some tidying can’t fix.”
“The lamp is broken, Ryuu,” Erik stays patient. “That was no mere gust of breeze.”
I sigh and I bury my face in my hands. My wings start shivering which seems to be a Celestial way of showing anxiety. My wings always mirror how I feel which is becoming impractical. I can never hide my feelings from Erik, even if I choose not to use my telepathy.
“It might be the same for every Celestial during sex?” I bring up, hoping I’m not the only weirdo as usual.
“It’s probably natural for Celestials to leak their mana when excited,” Erik ponders. “But I think you’re losing control because you get absorbed in my mind too deeply, forgetting about your surroundings.”
He’s right, I know he is. The world disappears for me when I fully dive into him. But what can I do about it? That’s how my telepathy works during our full connection.
“We’ll figure it out, love,” Erik hugs me and caresses my wings in a way that won’t arouse me again. “That psychologist is coming today, right? He might be able to help.”
“I don’t think he will have a specialisation in paranormal abilities,” I have to disappoint him. “I thought we wanted to talk to him about my… ehm… insecurities. I’m not telling him that I’m a telepath. At least not anytime soon.”
“You might open up to him eventually,” Erik is hopeful. “But for now… let’s go for breakfast.”
“We can’t leave the room like this,” I’m surprised he isn’t tidying up already considering how he likes his things to be orderly.
“Leave that to the room service?” he smirks.
“Don’t be a jerk,” I roll my eyes. “Did you get used to living in luxury so quickly?”
“One might get used to it,” he admits. “Just kidding, let’s tidy this mess.”
We start putting things back to their places and I find out that I can speed up the process by using telekinesis. I still have to see where to deliver the levitating objects but it helps a lot.
“That’s surprisingly handy,” Erik comments.
“What, you didn’t consider magic handy before?” I ask while folding our clothes.
“Not really, sorry,” he shrugs. “I mean… when will Celestials actually use it in real life? Where will you be allowed to use it?”
“A-allowed?” that word takes me aback. It sounds really unpleasant.
“Well, I doubt magic will become an everyday activity,” he says. “Firstly, it scares humans. Secondly, it takes your precious mana and you have to eat a lot afterwards. Thirdly, it’s dangerous and for what purpose would you even use it? We have technology for everything, it’s the 22nd century.”
I have to think about it for a while. I continue tidying but I’m, in fact, thinking frantically. My boyfriend is probably right again. Where will we use magic in everyday situations? Even when Draconia was still a game, we didn’t cast spells just for the fun of it. That would be pointless and a waste of mana. Except for training, we used it only in dungeons and during questing or levelling.
“The government might propose limiting magic usage to protect citizens and prevent possible abuse of power,” Erik continues and is choosing his words carefully.
“What about the Dragonkin and Clawfangs?” I remind him. “Their abilities are just as dangerous as ours. It only doesn’t seem that way because they’re not as flashy and hard to understand.”
“Something similar I guess,” he says. “I think the Prime Minister will most probably propose some kind of non-aggression agreement today.”
“I suppose,” I mutter, not wanting to pursue the topic further, and finish folding all our clothes. “Do we have time for a quick shower?”
“We do, it’s only seven,” he nods.
“Great, let’s go then.” I don’t really have anything to take off as we usually go to sleep naked. “Can I bother you with washing my back around the wings?”
“It’s no bother,” he smirks.
A quick shower is hardly quick for a Celestial. I’m afraid to wet my feathers unnecessarily and as my wings grow bigger and bigger each day, it’s getting progressively harder to shower in such a narrow space.
“S-sorry,” I apologise because I accidentally shove my feathers into his face when turning around. Fortunately, Erik is more amused than annoyed.
“If only there was a spell to hide them,” he says. “You know… like angels in fiction. They can somehow magically conjure them away when they don’t need them.”
“That’s stupid, our wings are normal limbs just as your hands and legs are,” I puff. “And even if there was a spell for that, I wouldn’t use it.”
“You wouldn’t?” he’s surprised. “Not even in situations like these?”
“No way,” I shake my head. “Would you spell your legs away when sitting in front of a computer just because you don’t need them at the moment?”
“I guess not,” he catches my drift and finished washing me. “Okay, done.”
I thank him with a light kiss as I dare nothing more intimate. I can’t get lost in him again, at least not now.
We go back to the bedroom to dress up and this time I decide to try a new robe since the previous one needs washing. I decline Erik’s help and try to put on all the layers using only my hands, telekinesis and the mirror. It takes me longer than I’ve anticipated but, in the end, I manage!
“Nifty,” Erik praises my effort. He put on a new three-piece suit and he’s irresistible in it, of course, but I have to resist. We don’t have time to mess around.
“Good morning, Your Majesty,” Vermiel greets me enthusiastically the moment we step outside our apartment. “Do you wish to dine in the cafeteria or should we bring your breakfast to the office?”
“In the cafeteria. I believe there won’t be any trouble this time?” Erik narrows his eyes.
“Of course not, Royal Consort,” Vermiel assures him. “We’ve talked to the residents and they promised to behave. Besides, you have us as your guards now.”
We step into the elevator and I expect Erik will want to talk to me telepathically but his thoughts are too jumbled. The only thing I catch is that he’s still upset about our wrecked apartment and afraid that we might have to absent from having sex until I get the hang of it. That prospect worries me as well.
The cafeteria is even busier than yesterday but people mostly go out of our way. But they still dig out their phones to take a photo of us or shoot a short video for their social media profiles which is kind of unsettling, to be honest. I’ve always dreaded this sort of publicity. I mean… one wrong move and my telepathy can be out.
So far I’ve been pretty good at concealing it but that was mainly because I was keeping contact with other people to absolute minimum. With my levelled-up telepathy and Draconians constantly all over me, there’s a danger I might connect to someone on reflex.
Fortunately, my new guards are menacingly frowning at anyone who would like to touch me without permission. Maybe it’s not so bad to have Celestials guarding me after all. At least they seem to have much greater respect than my human bodyguards. What they lack in training, they make up by simply being Draconians.
“I want to choose myself,” I say adamantly in case Vermiel gets the same funny idea as Miruel yesterday. I approach the counter before they can stop me.
“Hello,” I greet the staff politely and notice that, except for one man who is supervising them, it’s all Draconians. I’m glad Liana’s job division works.
“Good morning, Your Majesty,” the Draconians beam at me. Huh? Isn’t it a bit overboard? Never mind, I don’t want to keep the line so I study the menu.
“I’ll have eggs with bacon and toast,” Erik orders first, giving me more time to choose. “And an espresso.”
“Pancakes for me then… blueberry, please,” I finally order as well. “And latte.”
“Please, go to sit down, Your Majesty, we’ll bring it to you,” the staff tells me because the guards are gesticulating wildly at them that there’s no way I’m waiting at the counter.
I look across the cafeteria only to find out that all tables are full. Forced socialising again? Who should we join? My race does seem eager I go sit with them. Then I notice Emi who’s waving at me. Her table is full as well but she’s throwing out some of her pack members to make space for us.
A slight dislike overcomes me. It’s so subtle but at the same time intense that I have to stop for a second. Do I feel… reluctant to sit next to Clawfangs? It seems absurd but what if it’s true? Ever since that incident with my ripped feather I don’t feel quite the same. Is it my Celestial nature finally fully awakening?
No, that’s nonsense. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t sit with Clawfangs for a change. Sure, they’re quite unruly compared Celestials but that’s just a superficial thing. I have to get to know other races better. Common people I mean, not just rulers.
“Hi, Emi,” I approach her table and try to sound relaxed even though I’m not. Her pack is staring at me. They don’t even make an effort to hide that they’re sniffing me, Erik and my escort.
“Come, come,” she pats two empty chairs next to her. “God knows I need some other people around since these guys won’t leave me alone.”
Emi isn’t complaining, not really. I can tell she loves having other Clawfangs around. But I guess even that can be tiresome sometimes. And even a super-extroverted Alpha wants some alone time.
“How are the kittens?” Erik pushes some small talk and he’s also uneasy. He doesn’t feel nervous around Celestials that much because we look quite innocent and meek. But Clawfangs are… well, all claws and fangs, obviously. And fur.
“You mean these adorable fluffs?” Emi grins and one kitten pokes from under her blouse. The others are in care of her pack members. “We’ve pretty much proven that certain animals are drawn to us. Call it pheromones or whatever.”
“Certain?” Erik is curious.
“Predators,” Emi specifies. “Naturally, prey animals flee. Riel here has a pet rabbit and it’s now absolutely scared of her.”
“It’s true,” a wolfish Clawfang woman sitting next to Emi’s left sighs sadly. “I had to give him to my sister. The poor critter can’t stand my presence.”
“We are carnivores,” Emi shrugs. “Humans can choose to go vegan, we can’t. Scientists are still studying our physiology but that much is proven already.”
“Your breakfast, Your Majesty,” one of the staff, an Earthborn woman, puts a tray in front of me. Eriks gets his share, too.
I catch unpleasant feelings coming from the tables occupied by Celestials. It seems they hate the fact that I didn’t go sit with them. Overall, Draconians react towards their rulers very strongly, I observe. Emi is obviously adored by her kind and she already calls them a pack, even though they originally belonged to different guilds. Fefnir walks into the cafeteria just a few minutes after us and he’s also surrounded by his race. So, is this behaviour normal to us? Are Draconians naturally drawn to their rulers?
“Ryuu, your telekinesis!” Erik warns me all of a sudden.
“Oh, damn,” only now I notice that my napkin is levitating. I was thinking that it was a bit in my way but I didn’t intend to use my ability!
“Problems controlling new powers?” Riel is surprised.
It can’t become public knowledge that you’re struggling. Talk yourself out of it, Erik tells me hastily.
“I’m just amazed how natural it feels,” I quickly come up with something. “It doesn’t take much to levitate things when you get the hang of it.”
“Telekinesis is a Celestial racial ability, it should feel natural,” Emi helps me out. “Just as it feels natural for us to be around animals.”
Everyone seems to be happy with my answer. I sigh out, relieved. That was close.
We get to Liana’s office slightly after eight and find her and Ingri already hard at work. They’re preparing notes for our meeting that is taking place in just an hour.
“Ehm… should we have come even earlier?” Fefnir, who joined us on the way, asks. And he’s not the only one feeling embarrassed—we all are.
“Don’t turn workaholic like me,” Liana shakes her head. “And Ingri was doing her school assignment until now actually. I wouldn’t use a minor like that.”
Shouldn’t you tell them about your abilities getting out of control? Erik nudges me.
Right now? No way, they’re too stressed out already, I refuse.
We go through our notes from yesterday and our anxiety rises. I think our arguments are valid enough but it’s not like we know how to establish an ambassy. Liana was discussing the issue with some specialists but nobody really knows how it turns out. There’s no precedent for our case, we have to be the ones who establish it.
“She’s here,” I say before anyone comes to inform us that the Prime Minister and her entourage entered the building. I nervously straighten my robe to make sure I look presentable.
“Gosh, you can feel her from such distance?” Fefnir scratches his chin.
“It’s not that far, it just seems so because of all those floors dividing us,” I explain. “My telepathy isn’t effected by materials in the way.”
“Did you actually measure how far you can reach?” Liana asks, tapping her digital pen against the table.
“Hard to measure it exactly,” I shrug. “I guess… a hundred meters? It used to be much less before, though. Fortunately, I’m fully aware only of those I know. The rest is just ambient noise to me really.”
Liana chews her lip. I feel she’s worried about me—worried that my telepathy will keep developing and causing me more trouble. To be honest, it scares me as well. Even if Draconian minds aren’t such a strain for me, I’m bound to meet and be around a lot of humans. As expected of a future leader. How will I manage that?
“Miss Liana, the Prime Minister and her escort is here,” Anna the administrator opens the door and Bauerova enters the conference room. It gets pretty crowded with all those bodyguards from both sides.
We immediately notice that she brings two new officials with her, a man and a woman. They look quite young but I feel great resolution coming from them. And also fear. But their ambition and a wish to be present at such a possibly historic occasion is stronger. They don’t try to hide their stares and carefully study all of us.
“Mr Bodin and Ms Ortega will be here to represent the international law,” Bauerova introduces them right away. I don’t feel bad intentions coming from them but at the same time they aren’t as open as the Czech Prime Minister. It’ll be hard to persuade them.
“Are they from the EU government?” Liana purses her lips disapprovingly.
“Sorry, Li, I couldn’t refuse them,” the Prime Minister sighs. “We’re part of the EU after all. And your future embassy needs to be accepted by the EU as well even if Bohemia has the majority for voting in this case.”
“Very well then,” Liana concedes and we sit down.
“Our first and naturally the biggest concern is hostility between Draconians and humans,” Bauerova starts the meeting without beating around the bush.
“You mean newly emerging racism,” Liana doesn’t sugar-coat it. “We’re trying to prevent that.”
“Wait a sec,” Emi speaks up. “Do you mean Draconians being racist towards humans or humans being racist towards us? Because it’s clearly the second case.”
“Both,” the Prime Minister answers calmly. “But, actually, what we’re most concerned about is that when Draconians try to defend themselves, it can end up badly for humans. It became evident after yesterday.”
I sigh. She saw the video. Of course, she did.
“So you’re worried about inadequate defence,” Fefnir quickly takes the lead because he can tell Emi is about to say something passively aggressive.
“We are,” Bauerova doesn’t hide her intention. “We can’t have Draconians harming people for trivialities, not even as self-defence.”
“Are you telling us to patiently take the shit humans will most probably throw at us?” Emi is getting pissed off and her claws scratch the table in front of her.
“I’m simply appealing to you not to overreact when someone verbally insults you or pulls your tail, for example,” Bauerova says. “Or, in case of Celestials,” she looks at me sternly, “throws people mercilessly away because of one feather.”
“It was a reflex, I didn’t do it on purpose,” I defend myself.
“Then it’s even worse if you can’t control your impulses,” the Prime Minister folds her arms. “In addition, your telekinesis isn’t supposed to be this strong, right? We studied your ingame lore.”
“We can’t be sure about that,” Liana answers instead of me. “It just wasn’t used in combat when Draconia was still a game. Throwing stuff at players and monsters didn’t do much damage so we were mainly using it for support and everyday convenience. Obviously, the application is much broader here.”
“Still, things like yesterday’s incident simply can’t happen,” Mr Bodin speaks up for the first time. He tries to act all confident but he’s quite panicky inside. He’s staring at me, well aware of what I can do.
“You can’t forbid us to defend ourselves,” Emi states resolutely. “There might be people who would like to hurt us. Seriously hurt us. When Draconians start going outside as normal occurrence, there might be hate-attacks against us.”
And we spend two hours just arguing about that. I admit feeling guilty that my self-defence yesterday was totally inadequate to the situation but at the same time we need to have a chance to legally protect ourselves. The EU officials have many counterarguments, saying our abilities are too strong for humans to handle so it’ll never be adequate self-defence if we use them.
At least Bauerova seems to be on our side. Although she doesn’t go directly against the arguments of the EU officials, she’s trying us to find reasonable solutions that would make both sides happy. What an excellent politician, no wonder Liana respects her.
“So we can all agree on strict mandatory training for the Draconians,” Ms Ortega sums up and makes a note into her laptop. “Your abilities simply can’t go berserk. And that also includes your… ehm… King,” she looks at me, unsure how to address me. I guess it’s hard to call someone like me a Mister.
“Especially him,” Bodin seconds.
“Aefener is actually the Celestial Emperor and you’ll address him as such,” Liana is offended for me and leaks her mana. Even though humans are insensitive towards magic, even they can feel something and get goosebumps.
“Li, we can’t use royal titles unless you’re acknowledged as a nation,” Bauerova tries to smooth the situation. “Which is something we’re trying to accomplish right now.”
“Right,” Liana forces herself to calm down. She’s no expert in the international law and it would be no use trying to hide the fact. But it doesn’t make her any less confident.
“So anyone against mandatory training?” Ortega calls for a vote. And, surprisingly, everyone unanimously agrees. Even Emi is nodding approvingly.
“We’re not giving away our right of self-defence, though,” the Clawfang Alpha makes it clear. “If anyone attacks us, we’ll protect ourselves. With adequate force, hopefully.”
“Noted,” Ortega finally concedes.
“It won’t be such a bad thing, Ms Ortega,” Bauerova stays positive. “If people know that they can’t mess with Draconians, they will think twice before aggravating them, right?”
“Perhaps,” the EU official sighs. “Okay, another point we have to discuss is…”
And we go on for another hour. Humans seem quite okay with that but it becomes evident that my gang desperately needs a snack. Our bodies are still developing at astonishing speed which requires a tremendous amount of calories.
“What about a short coffee break?” Liana claps her hands when Emi’s stomach rumbles loudly. “My catering had prepared something small for us to eat. Please, accept my hospitability.”
“God, yeah, and the bathroom” Bauerova breaks the protocol and grunts. I’m really grateful for her informal behaviour. I’d have never guessed that a politician can act as… well… a normal person. But she can. And I like her even more for that.
We move to another room where several tables full of food await us. Is this what Liana calls small? Not that I’m complaining, those canapes look out of this world. And is that sushi? Wait, I can’t eat it anymore, can I? But it’s so inviting. Maybe I will manage to digest just a piece? I’m half-Japanese after all. Fish can’t hurt me.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Ryuu,” Erik warns me when he notices what I’m hungrily staring at.
“Just one,” I grab a roll before he can stop me.
But as I’m about to put it into my mouth, the smell of fish hits my nose. Did raw fish always stink so bad? Uhm, it smells… dead. My stomach almost turns upside down and I quickly put the roll on Erik’s plate.
“See?” he shakes his head and eats the sushi for me.
“Not fair,” I huff.
“Ehm… there’s vegetarian sushi for us,” Liana pulls my sleeve and points towards another table.
Only then I notice that these three tables aren’t random at all. There’s a table for meat-eaters, vegetarians and for vegans, separately.
And do try to socialise with our guests, Aefener, she lightly brushes my wing to send me her thought.
Bauerova returns from the bathroom so Liana leaves us to join her over coffee. I spot Fefnir trying to chat with Ms Ortega who is totally scared of him but is doing her best not to show it on her face. Emi is blatantly eating all ham from the meat table and pretty much ignoring the humans now that she doesn’t have to force herself.
Which leaves me with… Mr Bodin. Who appears to be a vegetarian because he carefully analyses the food on our table. Lucky for Ingri, she seems to have everything to herself.
“Please, don’t hold back,” I step aside a little because he’s evidently careful not to touch my wings accidentally.
“Thank you,” he appreciates, grabs a plate and puts a few canapes for himself.
I’m desperately trying to find any topic for small topic but I realise that I probably just glare stupidly at him. Fortunately, Erik saves me.
“So how big of a problem is my cute boyfriend for the EU?” Erik asks jokingly as if it was a nonchalant question you can just blurt at someone over canapes.
Bodin blinks, not sure if he should take it as a joke or a serious answer is expected. To be honest, I don’t know either.
“How big of a problem is dating the Celestial Emperor for a human?” Bodin decides to answer with a question. Clever.
“Challenging and fun. Surprisingly no problem at all,” Erik laughs a little. “Don’t you find Celestials beautiful? Most people do.”
“Sure, they’re… aesthetically pleasing,” Bodin says evasively. “But, to be honest and I mean no offence, I could never imagine dating a Draconian.”
“Hmm,” Erik narrows his eyes and pulls his arm around my waist. A little too ostentatiously.
“Which,” Bodin adds quickly, “makes you an excellent mediator, Mr Anderle. The EU is actually grateful that people like you exist. It makes Draconians seem more… human.”
I’m so not used to hearing Erik’s surname. But wait, what’s that last sentence supposed to mean? And why do I get the feeling that these two are totally omitting me from their conversation? I try to keep my cool but I can’t help getting pissed. Especially because I perceive that Bodin is feeling quite contemptuous towards me.
Until now I was able to filter away all nasty insults thrown at me. I never reacted to any of them and I considered it my forte. Being called a freak by my grandma didn’t hurt me. Being called a genderless fag by random strangers was laughable. But now… something deep inside me was offended. My Celestial part I mean.
I know that I have to stay calm in order not to jeopardise the meeting so I desperately search for my human part. That part that can take any shit with a straight face. But I just… I can’t seem to find it. Is it too suppressed by my rising Celestial anger? And then I realise the reason why. I can’t find something that simply isn’t there. I naively thought that I can retain both but I was only borrowing it from Erik. He indeed was my bridge to humanity… all this time.
“But we’re not human anymore,” I say with a hiss. “Why should be pretend to be more human?”
Bodin finally meets my eyes but only for a second. Then he averts his gaze back to Erik. Wh--? Is he afraid to face me because of my powers or does he just find my appearance unnerving? Which is it? And which is worse?
“I’m sure Mr Bodin didn’t mean it that way,” Erik says quickly because he catches the sudden dark change in my mood and it makes him panicky.
“How did you mean it then?” I ask again, this time much more sharply.
“W-we just thought that a positive public imagine might help,” Bodin stutters a bit because I’m piercing him with my golden eyes. “You having a boyfriend who stayed human is showing people hope.”
“What kind of hope? Do enlighten me,” I clench my fists.
“That you’re still human inside,” Bodin gulps but at this point he knows painfully well that he shouldn’t have said that. He made a huge misassumption.
I don’t know what it does to me exactly. A few days ago, I’d probably not mind such a statement at all. I might have been glad for it. I’d have even wished to be called human from the inside. Maybe. Or maybe not even then. I know only one thing for certain now. That being called human insults me to the deepest levels of my very existence.
“You’re wrong,” I whisper and the room gets unnaturally cold all of a sudden.
Erik doesn’t manage to react that quickly but Liana does. She must have felt a surge of my mana long before I subconsciously activated the spell. She jumps towards me but it’s too late. Because I unleash my Celestial wrath and it feels good.
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