Chapter 34:

Emperor’s Nature

Draconia Offline

“Your Majesty?” Taranah pulls my sleeve, scared. He doesn’t have to be a telepath to read the atmosphere around me. Neither does Dubois who steps back instinctively and gasps for breath.

“Be my guest and watch our magic training. Just be careful what the EU wishes for,” I hiss. “Mandatory training will only make us stronger. Limitations, if made too discriminatory, will only incite the civil war, not prevent it. We’re millions, you can’t lock us all up.”

I turn my back to give him a full show of my magnificent wings. Then I nod at Taranah and want to continue our training as if nothing happened. But something did happen, I feel it inside me. It doesn’t want to be ignored anymore—my Celestial warlike nature. And it’s terrifying and exciting at the same time.

Dubois has to try hard to make it look like he’s not running away but I don’t even bother to watch him leave. When his telepathic imprint, which I’ve already memorised, fades away, I finally calm down. Taranah is staring at me with genuine respect and feeling proud of what I did.

I also feel quite proud but when I realise that I’ve basically threatened the EU delegate, I don’t feel that good about it anymore. What will Dubois report to his superiors? What if it negatively influences our reputation? But at the same time, I can’t help thinking that maybe… just maybe… the EU should be afraid of us.

“Let’s continue our training,” I say, trying to sound normal again even though I can’t shake off that feeling of acting as the real Celestial Emperor.

“Of course, Your Majesty,” Taranah nods furiously and I can tell that the idea of not listening to me wouldn’t even cross his mind at this point.

How much did our mentality transform? Did we go all the way? And how is it possible in the first place? The game lore was fictitious, right? Although, admittedly, the players did choose their race according to a detailed psychological profile which was unheard of in videogames before. So many questions and no answers. Should I just go with it like the rest of Draconians?

While Taranah keeps practicing his level 2 flame spell, I decide to occupy my mind and try out some level 4 spells. It seems that basic control of elements doesn’t require transfiguration symbols but I feel it in my Celestial bones that higher level magic will.

I close my eyes, recalling some simple symbols. I wasn’t called the biggest Draconia nerd for nothing, I still remember them even though such low-tier magic was hardly ever used in dungeons and raids. My hard work levelling without the system assist is paying off in ways I wouldn’t even dream of.

“Oh, Your Majesty, it’s so beautiful!” Taranah’s praise makes me open my eyes again.

It turns out my effort did materialise a transfiguration symbol I was focusing on—there’s a sign hanging in the air in front of me like a hologram. I stretch my hands and try touching it. My fingers go straight through it but I can feel slight vibration which means that the symbol is there, made out of pure condensed mana.

“What kind of spell are you trying?” Taranah asks curiously.

“A shield,” I say, a bit disappointed that he doesn’t recognise it. I’ll have to make him memorise everything by heart. It would be shameful if the head of our magic research didn’t know. Someone else more knowledgeable could come to claim his post.

I freeze for a moment and the symbol disintegrates. Make him memorise? Shameful? It must be my Celestial nature speaking again. I try to shake that feeling but when I look at Taranah, I can’t help but see him as my subject, not a gaming friend. That scares me.

“That’s it for today, I need rest,” I say quickly and hastily walk out of the fitness suite, leaving confused Taranah behind me.

“Are you okay, Your Majesty?” Miruel asks me, concerned because she can see I’m bewildered.

“Where’s my partner?” I inquiry her. She should know, the guards know everything when it comes to our inner circle.

“In the briefing room 3,” she tells me, checking her phone.

I glance at it to discover that Miruel can see all patrolling guards in some app that shows the building floor by floor. Neat. I bet it was Fefnir’s or Diana’s idea and they forgot to mention that. Or they thought it isn’t of interest to me. I guess it isn’t really, I’m not the head of security after all and there’s no way around it than to divide our overwhelming workload.

“Ryuu, is something wrong?” Erik looks up from the laptop when I barge into the briefing room.

“Can we have some privacy?” I ask because there’s Ms Ortega in the room, going through some paperwork, and an Earthborn I don’t recognise helping them.

Shit, was my tone too rough? I guess it didn’t sound like a genuine request but an order. Ms Ortega is afraid to meet my eyes when she stands up and that Earthborn is literally fleeing.

“Ryuu, tell me what’s wrong,” Erik goes for a hug the moment we’re alone. How I love him for that. His default is always to go for a comforting hug first, inquire later.

I connect to him and rest in his mind until I find my balance again. But I don’t let go. I envelop him into my wings and clutch him even tighter.

Do you see? I ask because I always keep my own mind open to him. Even though he’s not a telepath, if I allow it so, he can browse my memories and thoughts as well.

I do, he answers slowly. But I don’t think it’s your Celestial nature, Ryuu. You’re not struggling with it anymore. I think it’s rather your Emperor nature that’s awakening now.

How can it be a nature? I don’t understand. It’s a job.

Except it isn’t. Not in case of Draconians, he shakes his head. You don’t want that position but it seems to me more and more that you won’t have any choice in the matter. Other Celestials already recognise you as their Emperor and you’re gradually starting to behave like one.

But I don’t want to!

Ryuu, Erik kisses me into my hair to calm me down. I don’t want to admit it but I suspect you wouldn’t be having such a hard time with your mental transition if it wasn’t for me. You’re still attuned to me more than you think.

You’re saying that you’re holding me back, I whisper even in my thoughts and my wings start shivering.

Maybe in a good way? he kisses me in my hair again. If being the Emperor is your second nature and you let it go free, what would it mean for humanity?

There weren’t any humans in Draconia Online, I remind him. I have no way of knowing.

What is the Celestial Emperor like then? According to your lore I mean, he asks.

Not so far from me, actually, I start thinking about it. The best caster, unsurpassed flier… it also states that I’m supposed to be magic itself but we might disregard that here.

These are rather job descriptive, what about the character? Erik nudges me on.

Celestial to the core? I guess and finally understand what he’s hinting at. Oh, Erik, what if it comes true to the letter? Celestials have many good features but also a lot of bad ones. We’re intelligent but arrogant. Devoted but focused only on our interests. Loving towards our kind but also looking down on other races. And we’re definitely the least peaceful race of Draconia. We never fight among ourselves but we’re hungry for conquest.

Erik doesn’t say anything for a while. He just keeps holding me tight, letting me rest in his mind. Do I crave his mind because it’s so different from mine? Or because he loves me back unconditionally? Or because he’s so stable, unlike me?

“You won’t become that,” he finally speaks again and aloud. “I’m absolutely sure of that.”

“How can you know?”

“Because first, I know you more than you realise. And second, you’re an empath,” he says and caresses my wings. “I think it’s virtually impossible for you wanting to hurt others.”

“I hurt that poor Earthborn who plucked my feather,” I remind him and shiver goes down my spine when I recall the incident.

“That was an accident, you acted on reflex,” he insists. “And right after that you healed him and were really worried if he’s okay because you felt his pain. So we can pretty surely deduce that it’s impossible for an empath to turn evil, even with Celestial nature and being the Emperor.”

I think about it and have to admit that he might be right. Becoming a Celestial made my telepathy and empathy only stronger, it didn’t dull it in any way. I think about the world differently now but I keep perceiving everyone’s emotions around me all the same. I would never hurt another thinking and feeling being. At least not voluntarily in the name of some stupid conquest.

“Do you have any idea how lucky humanity is that it’s you?” Erik plays with my feathers. “Imagine anyone else becoming the Celestial Emperor—they most probably wouldn’t fight against their inner urges. I think we’d already have a civil war. The EU doesn’t know what they have in you.”

“Liana isn’t a bad choice either,” I mutter, embarrassed that he’s praising me so much.

Erik gets serious again all of a sudden.

“Liana is great because she’s your Viceroy,” he says. “You two make the best ruler duo ever. But she being the Empress… I would be afraid, to be honest. I suspect she’s so kind only because you’re kind. Not saying that she isn’t kind enough for a Celestials… it’s just… she can be pretty rough and uncompromising.”

“So you think I’m not entirely hopeless at this whole Emperor business?” I sigh, relieved a bit.

“On the contrary. You’re exactly what the world needs,” Erik smiles and scratches me between my wings. “And the EU will be kissing your legs when they finally get it.”

“You!” I purse my lips. “Stop with the blatant flattery and kiss me.”

“As my Emperor commands,” he smirks and fulfils my wish.


It totally slipped my mind that I have that appointment with the psychologist Liana invited. I don’t feel like going, not after what happened with Dubois, but Erik is deaf to my lame excuses.

“What will I talk about with him when I can’t mention my telepathy?” I voice my biggest concern.

“You can start with the conflict within you about becoming the Celestial Emperor,” Erik helps me on the way. There’s only Miruel and Vermiel in the elevator so we can speak freely.

“Conflict?” they both look at me, alarmed. “Your Majesty, don’t we serve you well?”

“Erik meant the burden of responsibility, stuff like that,” I murmur, embarrassed because they’re looking at me strangely, almost panicky.

“B-but you have us!” Miruel exclaims. “You have Her Excellency… the Royal Consort… and every Celestial will be eager to help. You’re not alone in it.”

“Thanks,” I smile at her faintly for those encouraging words. “I’ll surely need every guidance I can get. I just hope you won’t regret your decision making me the Emperor.”

“Decision?” Vermiel tilts his head and I can feel that I confused him. “There’s nothing we could possibly decide. You’re the strongest Celestial so it’s natural you rightfully claimed the throne. I’d never answer to anyone else. Or do you think I’d serve just anybody?”

I study his determined expression as well as emotional resolution. He’s not kidding. He’s not role-playing. Just as Taranah, he means every word he says. And neither he, nor Miruel understand why I lack confidence when they both have absolute trust in me.

Reinforcements are already waiting for us when we step outside the elevator and join Miruel and Vermiel. Just a few weeks ago I’d frown at such arrangement—why do I need so many guards inside Liana’s skyscraper?—but Draconians don’t act exactly normal around their rulers. I don’t want to repeat that incident with my ripped feather so I’m grateful for their presence.

In the end we don’t pass that many people, I guess it’s dinner time for most of them, but I still get too many stares and there’re too many attempts to stop me on my way. Other races aren’t that crazy but passing Celestials are just impossibly eager to stir a conversation with me or simply touch my wings.

It proves useful again that Miruel and Vermiel know my secret. They realise why I don’t like being touched by strangers and try their hardest to divert everyone away. I try smiling at everyone but it must be totally cringy. Their emotions are too fluttered, too turbulent when they see me. It doesn’t make me nauseous only because they’re my fellow Draconians.

“Come in!” an enthusiastic voice invites us when we stand in front of the office that was transformed into the psychologist’s new place and Vermiel knocks.

“H-hello,” I say cautiously and step inside between Vermiel and Erik. The door is of regular size so I wouldn’t fit in if I didn’t fold my wings straight behind my back.

“Your Majesty,” a man in his forties with sandy wings and graying short hair stands up and greets me with a sincere smile. He’s wearing old-fashioned glasses which give him a really trustworthy look. “I’m honoured to have you as my patient. Please, sit down. Your partner can sit next to you if he takes the chair over there.”

“Actually, I’ll take that one,” I go for the other chair which is much simpler and doesn’t have a back rest.

“Oh, I see,” he realises that I must be struggling with my wings when it comes to common human furniture because his wings are still quite small. He couldn’t have been a high-level, even the mana capacity I feel from him is much smaller than, for instance, Taranah’s.

I was half-expecting he would have one of those sofas one can see in any movie featuring a psychologist but I guess he didn’t have time to order new furniture yet. Vermiel and Miruel go stand guard outside to give us privacy so we end up alone with the doctor.

“My name is Zetraya but I’m sure Erik already mentioned that?” the doctor starts and the vibe I’m catching from his so far is really pleasant.

“He did,” I nod, anxious what to expect. I’ve never been to a psychologist, real ones are hellishly expensive. All my knowledge comes from movies and some free self-help apps I’ve been trying out in order to find ways how to battle my anxiety.

“I see that you’re nervous, Your Majesty,” Zetraya says kindly. “You don’t have to be, everything is strictly confidential.”

I nod again and hug Erik with my left wing. Zetraya is looking at me analytically, trying to read my body language no doubt. Erik is encouraging me, sending me tons of love and support. I take a deep breath and make a conscious choice to open up to him as much as I find possible at the moment.

“I… I have some issues with… ehm… self-confidence,” I say, almost whispering. “I also think… that I might have… ehm… anxiety disorder… and I suffer from occasional panic attacks.”

Did you say anything to him? I quickly ask Erik telepathically.

Of course not, we only talked about me accepting your longevity yesterday, he assures me.

“Your Majesty, are you extremely anxious right now?” the doctor leans forward.

“Y-yes,” I look at my knees timidly.

“I’m asking because it seems your anxiety can manifest magically,” he chews his lip and points around us.

I turn my head and notice that several objects in the room are levitating. I have to try hard to put them down because they resist me.

“Oh, I’ve actually noticed that before,” Erik agrees. “Ryuu is using telekinesis spontaneously without thinking. It usually reacts to his unspoken wishes but he also does it when he’s very nervous. Or when he’s in pain. Like that time when you were levitating in your sleep, hon.”

“Levitating in his sleep?” Zetrays pushes his glasses up to his nose. It’s rare to see someone wearing glasses these days when laser operations are so quick and painless but they suit him. And right now he’s endlessly curious about what he’s just heard.

“I guess we never talked about it with anybody,” Erik realises. “I vaguely recall I might have mentioned it to Julia when I was calling her for help but she must have forgot with all that was happening at that time.”

“Spontaneous telekinesis and spontaneous levitation… fascinating!” Zetrays takes a note into his pad. “The rumours about you aren’t exaggerating, Your Majesty.”

“What does it have to do with my mental health?” I don’t understand.

“Directly nothing, indirectly it’s a great indicator of your mental state,” the psychologist explains. “It seems rather harmless and cute right now but I’m afraid that when your abilities grow, so can these indicators.”

“Are you trying to say I might become dangerous?” I’m taken aback and clutch Erik’s hand.

“I’m just speculating at this point,” he shakes his head. “Still, it just won’t do to have our Emperor anxious. We have to do something about it and I think that’s the reason why you came to find me.”

“R-right,” I carefully second that.

“Let’s start by you telling me about your childhood,” he leans back to his chair since his quite small wings still allow him to do so.

“What a classic thing to say,” Erik can’t help chuckling so I kick his leg.

A bit reluctantly at first, I start telling him my life story. I do omit that my Mom was a VR developer, I just say she was a programmer, and I don’t mention my telepathy, of course, but otherwise I tell everything pretty accurately.

“It pains me to her that our Emperor was neglected as a child,” Zetrays says sadly when I finish. “Thank you for entrusting me with this, Your Majesty. I won’t disappoint your trust.”

“So… do I get some exercise or something?” I ask with anticipation.

“Take a few deep breaths, your wings are shaking, Your Majesty,” Zetraya points out.

“Oh, r-right,” I notice only now that re-telling my life had a toll on me. I thought I was pretty detached but it’s obvious that I wasn’t at all.

Erik hugs me and keeps caressing my wings until they stop shaking.

“Your partner has evidently a very good influence on you,” the psychologist observes.

“Too good,” I add. “I’m afraid I’m totally dependent on him.”

“Yes, I determined as much when Erik visited me yesterday,” Zetraya agrees and tries not to make it sound too abnormal. “You’re a typical case of co-dependency.”

“And… how bad is that?” I swallow.

“I have to get to know you better to assess that,” he says undecidedly. “But you don’t seem to have all destructive sides of it. Couples who suffer from it often turn abusive but what I can see in your case is only obsessive love and separation anxiety.”

Separation anxiety is most probably connected to your telepathy, Erik mentions in his thought. Too bad we can’t tell him that.

Later… maybe…

“Your Majesty, we certainly can work on it,” Zetraya is trying to give me some courage because I stayed silent. “Anyway, in our current situation, Erik is the best Royal Consort you could get. You’ll need all the support and having and over-doting partner is a plus in your very specific case.”

“H-huh,” I’m not sure how to react to that so I simply nod.

It’s hurtful to hear confirmed by an expert that our relationship isn’t exactly healthy because I didn’t want to admit it for a long time. But Erik indeed is the best partner I could wish for. And we can work on the rest, nobody’s perfect.

“Let’s leave it at that for today,” Zetraya concludes. “You need to calm down, Your Majesty. Sharing your life story with me was already a big step in trust, considering I’m a stranger to you. I’ve already talked to your adjutant and Luviael is willing to give me two time slots a week.”

“Willing?” Erik frows at that word. “And you find nothing fundamentally wrong with that as a psychologist?”

Zetraya ponders for a moment.

“I know what you’re hinting at,” he says slowly after long consideration. “The problem is that I’m trying to understand your human perspective, Erik, but I don’t think like a human anymore. The Celestial Emperor belongs to his subjects. It’s how it should be.”

“Was the mental shift really that great?” Erik tilts his head.

“You have no idea, Royal Consort,” Zetraya looks at me with a painful expression. “You have no idea how much I have to push myself right now to understand that our Emperor, the embodiment of magic itself, suffers from anxiety and low self-esteem. It’s almost unthinkable for me. But the transformation didn’t make me forget anything from my experience or education. I’m perfectly qualified to take care of His Majesty’s mental health.”

I’m relieved to hear that. I know for sure that I wouldn’t be able to open up to any human psychologist. It’s a small miracle for me that I’m able to withstand Julia’s regular medical check-ups. I think it’s because she helped me to get my wings out. Something like that bonds people for life.

I thank the doctor and leave his office, mentally totally drained.


“So,” Erik pokes me after he let me rest in our bed for half an hour. I literally collapsed on it when we got home.

“So?” I mutter into the pillow, lying on my stomach, my wings fully spread to the sides and falling over the edge of our huge bed.

“A co-dependent relationship, huh?” he sighs.

“The biggest part of it must be my telepathy,” I murmur. “You know I’m a telepathic addict. And I don’t know if I can work on that. Probably can’t. Telepathy and empathy sound miraculous only in fiction. In reality, there are many drawbacks.”

“And you know that I’m a doting jealous type,” he sighs again.

“We’re a match made in heaven. Yet, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.”

“Me neither,” he scratches my right wing. “Are you calmer now? What about I give you a massage?”

“A massage?” I turn my head so that I’m not muttering into the pillow all the time. “That would be great. My back is sore.”

“Get out of your robe then,” Erik smirks and doesn’t wait for my answer. He starts undressing me right away.

“You just want me naked!” I accuse him.

“I’m not denying that,” he laughs and undoes the kimono belt holding my robe together.

“Don’t we need a lotion or something?” I decide to cooperate with his effort.

“Right, I think there’s some coconut oil in the bathroom,” he nods and jump out of bed to fetch it.

Fortunately, the door to the bathroom leads right out of our bedroom. I’m really glad for that. Half-naked Erik going through the living room with patrolling guards would be mortifying.

“Got it!” it takes him only a few seconds to return. “Lay on your stomach again.”

“Be gentle okay?” I say, a bit alarmed when he cracks his knuckles. “It’s your first time massaging a Celestial. We’re frail.”

“I know that better than anybody, love,” he says and pushes me back into the pillow. “Try to relax and enjoy it.”

I trust Erik with my life and I’ve had several massages from my previous lovers. But that was before my body transformed into this almost ethereal being.

“Bones in my back are different from humans,” I remind him, totally unnecessarily because it’s obvious.

“Relaaaaax,” he prolongs and takes a palmful of coconut oil.

I hiss instinctively when he puts pressure against my back but it doesn’t hurt. I try to relax as he was telling me and close my eyes. Erik’s hands are gentle and he’s testing the amount of pressure he can afford with me. He’s able to tell right away through our telepathic connection when it’s too much so I stop being wary.

Just around two minutes into the massage, I start to thoroughly enjoy it. My back really is sore from the weight of my wings I have to carry all the time and those uncomfortable chairs I’m forced to sit on. Erik’s hands are pure bliss.

“Not nooooow!” Erik cries when someone knocks on the door after just twenty minutes.

“It must be our dinner,” I whine, also annoyed.

“Right, you can’t skip any meals,” he realises and hastily throws my kimono pyjamas at me. I still don’t feel dressed enough to be seen by our maid so I also put on an embroidered cloak on top.

“Come in then!” Erik finally allows.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, Your Majestry, Royal Consort, but you know that…,” one of the maids arrives with a food cart.

“Yes, we know, the Emperor has to eat. Thank you, Cien,” Erik waves at her impatiently.

The maid, Cien, bows and leaves.

“Seriously, no privacy here,” Erik rolls his eyes.

“You heard Zetraya, Celestials find nothing wrong with that,” I say. “The Emperor belongs to his people. I’m afraid we have to prepare that it’s only going to get worse. What’s on the menu?”

“A steak for me, hummus for you,” Erik takes off the lid to find out.

“Oh, I love hummus!” I grab my plate with telekinesis and realise that I’m quite hungry after all.

But I don’t manage to swallow even one bite because I suddenly feel that something is wrong. Very, very wrong. I let go of the spoon and it falls into the sheets. Erik looks at me, confused, but I don’t have time to explain.

I close my eyes, take a deep breath and let my telepathy grow sharper. All those leaking emotions around me get stronger and I quickly scan the whole skyscraper, looking for the source of disturbance.

And there it is, such strong negative emotions aren’t hard to find—six human minds filled with hatred so burning it makes me nauseous. I open my eyes, use my telekinesis to slip into the shoes and start running.