Chapter 37:

Betrayed Trust

Draconia Offline

“N-no! That can’t be right! My telepathy isn’t…,” I’m shaking my head violently, not willing to believe it.

This is just a nightmare, right? My telepathy can’t be growing stronger again. I don’t want to read everyone’s thoughts! As if their emotions weren’t enough to give me migraines! Why? Why now? Why at all? Things in the bedroom start trembling menacingly as my mana leaks out, reacting to my disturbed mental state.

“Ryuu, calm down!” Erik jumps to me, hugs me tight and immediately begins rubbing feathers between my wings to relax me. “You can’t use mana right now, you’ll reopen your wound again!”

“B-but, Erik…,” my eyes water.

“Shh, don’t talk, just breathe,” he kisses me and our deep telepathic connection kicks in automatically.

He’s thinking frantically about what it will mean if my telepathy did get stronger again but he’s also sending me tons of love. I decide to focus on that and steady my breathing. It must take me more than ten minutes to overcome the shock and it’s only thanks to him. The psychologist was right, I’m totally dependent on my partner.

“Never mind that now,” Erik catches what goes through my head and waves it away. “Tell me, are you perceiving thoughts of anyone from the other room?”

I take a deep breath and focus on the people in our living room. I can feel Miruel and one other guard but nothing more than their emotions—the same as usual.

“You don’t, that’s good news,” he smiles at me encouragingly. “Maybe you can hear only me because we became so synchronised?”

“M-maybe,” I say weakly. That would certainly be the better alternative.

“Let’s test that,” he says and slowly lets go of me. “Can you hear my thoughts now?”

“N-not really,” I dry my tears with the hem of my sleeping kimono.

Erik isn’t satisfied with my answer, though, so he makes another attempt.

What about now? I’m really trying to concentrate on a single thing.

“I… I do?!” I flinch and whine because I accidentally moved my right wing.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

“I can hear you just fine, stop with the tongue twisters!” I clutch him again and regret that I can’t use both of my wings to envelop us into a comforting cocoon.

“I think it’s really just the two of us,” he says and continues rubbing my feathers. “Probably because we’re so attuned to each other?”

“I hope so,” I shiver. “I don’t want anyone else in my head. And I don’t want anyone to know for now. Not even Liana. She would make a big deal out of it for sure.”

“Okay, it can be our sweet little secret,” he’s actually excited about it, unlike me. “Something only for us to know and enjoy.”

“You’re thinking about practical implications already,” I accuse him and poke his stomach.

“Well, of course, love,” he chuckles. “Imagine what we can do with it. We don’t have to be touching anymore to hear each other’s thoughts.”

“Can you hear mine, though?” I doubt. “You’re not a telepath.”

“Nope, but you can hopefully channel your thoughts to me?” he speculates and lets go of me again even though I don’t want to. “Try, please.”

Gosh, he’s so eager. He seems genuinely thrilled about new possibilities of my levelled-up telepathy. He’s like a high schooler who just discovered another means how to send a message to their crush behind the teacher’s back. His enthusiasm is catchy, though. I feel much better about my prospects. Maybe it won’t be that bad if it stays just between us.

I make several failed attempts to send my throughs to him before his face brightens.

“Oh, I heard that,” he laughs and kisses me as a reward. “Do you need mana to do that?”

“I don’t think so?” I shrug. “It’s not Celestial magic after all, it’s my inborn ability. I don’t feel my mana circuit reacting when I use telepathy.”

“Right, because it’s not a spell, it’s your extra sense,” he gets it.

“Always has been,” I nod. “Still, what is magic anyway? We know so little. There might be some scientific explanation.”

“Since we don’t know, it stays mystical. Now, let’s experiment some more. I want you to be able to use it freely with me. That way we can avoid situations like that unpleasant thing with you locking me up to protect me.”

“Will you keep reminding me of that from now on?” I frown.

“Oh, I won’t miss an opportunity,” he says partly amused, partly still pissed about it.

We keep experimenting for another hour before I exhaust myself completely and we fall asleep in each other’s embrace.


My out of the blue level up frightened me, I won’t deny that, but I slowly start to enjoy our strengthened telepathic connection. Liana and the gang know everything about me so it’s nice to have something just between me and Erik. Our sweet little secret as he called it.

At first, I feel a bit bad that I’m intruding Erik’s privacy which is almost non-existent at this point but he assures me that he has to focus really hard to make a specific thought stand out enough for me to perceive without touching. I guess we should be fine for now.

That ass, I make a remark to myself while watching Erik dressing up in the morning. Facing the wardrobe, he’s standing with his back to me, giving me a very nice view.

“I heard that, you know,” he turns to me with a raised eyebrow.

“I wanted you to,” I smirk and try to slowly sit up.

I manage somehow but, damn, I still feel dizzy. I fold my left wing and leave my right one stretched out. I feel much better today but having a wing injured is indeed paralyzing for a Celestial. It’s like the healing process is sucking all energy out of me.

“I need to use the bathroom, please,” I sigh.

I’m really glad that I don’t have to go nearly as often as humans do. Erik isn’t fussy about helping me out but it’s embarrassing. And my wings are so cumbersome when I can’t fold both of them properly.

When we return, the door leading to our living room is open and Julia is waiting for me, sitting on a chair she positioned next to our bed and ready with her equipment. She’s watching me analytically as Erik is putting me back on our bed. I guess it’s evident I’m suffering from dizziness.

“Humans have their centre of balance in the ear,” she tells me while changing my bandages. “We need more concrete evidence but it might be that Celestials have it in their wings now. You’re not dizzy because of the meds since they should be out of your system by now. I think you’re dizzy because your centre of balance is disrupted.”

“That’s plausible,” I agree and let her do the job. “When will I recover?”

“Don’t be impatient, you’re still healing much quicker than humans,” Julia rolls her eyes and Erik does the same. “Give it a few more days and you should be okay.”

“How’s Liana? She looked dreadful last time I saw her,” I ask next, worried about my Viceroy. “I don’t feel her in her apartment. Isn’t she supposed to be resting considering her condition?”

“Nothing eludes the telepath,” Julia says admirably and tells me to untie my kimono so that she can scan my ribs. “Healing nicely, Your Majesty. We need a much bigger specimen but researchers roughly estimated that new races heal 50% quicker than humans. And that’s naturally, without any magic or special skills.”

“How’s Liana?” I repeat my question because she didn’t answer it.

“If I’m to be frank,” Julia sighs resignedly. “She totally disregards my medical advice and keeps working when she should be resting.”

“Because I’m indisposed,” I chew my lip. “Celestials won’t listen to anyone else than one of us. Still, how come she’s allowed to go out but I couldn’t when my wings went into the growth spur? Is Fefnir carrying her around?”

“Her condition isn’t nearly as bad as yours was,” Julia shrugs, notes something down and starts quickly packing her things. Is she trying to avoid answering me properly?

“Julia,” I frown. “Is something going on?”

I try reaching for her but she flinches. Okay, that’s weird. She used to be eager to experiment with my telepathy before.

“That’s rude, Your Majesty,” she purses her lips at me. “You shouldn’t use your telepathy just because people aren’t willing to say something.”

“If it’s your private business, I respect that. But somehow I just know it concerns me,” I push on. “Julia, please. I was asking about the current situation at breakfast but the guards and maids don’t want to tell me anything.”

“Because Her Excellency ordered absolute rest until you fully recover,” she says unwillingly. “It frightened her that you could have died. Honestly, it frightened everybody, especially Celestials. And human governments.”

“Why humans?” I frown. “I thought they’d be quite happy to see me gone as they consider me such a threat.”

Julia looks at me as if I’m utterly stupid. I’m starting to feel stupid.

“Gosh, Ryuu, you’re so slow sometimes,” Erik puffs but at least he doesn’t think I’m stupid.

“About what?” I demand an explanation.

“About how important you are,” he hugs me preventively.

“Well, His Majesty doesn’t have any time to actually watch social media,” Julia shrugs and her glare softens. “I guess we’re pretty much keeping him in a bubble.”

“What does that mean?!” my confusion transforms into frustration.

“Your Majesty, those hours you spent unconscious after the operation,” Julia says slowly, “Celestials were prepared to riot in your name. The only thing that stopped them was Her Excellency imploring them that you wouldn’t wish for it. If you were killed… I have no doubt we’d already have a global civil war.”

I sigh out and realise only after ten long seconds that I forgot to close my mouth. I remember Luviael telling me that Liana ordered to cut off the entire floor. I just didn’t think it was to keep me isolated so that I don’t excite myself. I naively thought… what did I think exactly? Did I even think about it? Do I ever question anything Liana says and does?

“Did you know about it?” I look up to Erik.

“No, but I… guessed,” he meets my eyes. His expression is both tender and painful. “Ryuu, what do you think that would happen if someone assassinated, for instance, the American President? Or the Queen of the UK? That country would go crazy for sure.”

“I’m nowhere near as important as those people,” I murmur.

“And that’s where you’re wrong, dummy,” he’s trying to make it sound soft even though he’s serving me the harsh truth. “Your people are scattered all over the world, possessing dangerous abilities while having nonhuman mentality that’s hard to understand and therefore hard to reason with conventionally. If their Emperor had died, they’d go berserk.”

“I didn’t die,” I say defiantly.

“No, you didn’t. But you were close… too close,” Julia insists. “That terrorist attack and your injury made your people realise how fragile the position of their new government is and that their Emperor isn’t safe. And they’re not the only one who is scared. The EU and the UN finally realised that should something bad happen to the race rulers, there’s no telling what Draconians would do.”

“Which is a good thing actually,” Erik tries to see something positive in this mess. “It should be also their priority now to protect the race rulers and not to antagonise Draconians.”

I ponder for a moment. They’re right and it all sounds very logical. If only it wasn’t me in the epicentre of everything. For a moment, my old habitual thinking emerges and I think that I’m totally inadequate. But it’s weak and gets overwhelmed by my Celestial thinking. Then it gets overrun completely and I can’t help feeling like the Emperor. I feel like that even in Erik’s presence now. Am I losing my human perspective for good?

“Anyway, better to hear it from the Viceroy directly,” Julia stands up. “Sorry, I have another work to do.”

“Thanks, Jul, for helping everyone,” I appreciate. “Do you have a lot of patients? Are you managing?”

“Oh, I don’t run the clinic for the whole skyscraper anymore,” she sets the record straight. “Her Excellency made me a personal physician of your inner circle and a researcher. Right now I’m busy analysing your samples.”

“Samples? You mean my feathers?” I tilt my head.

“I have much more to work on because of your injury—not only your feathers but also blood and muscle tissues. Of course, my infirmary is better guarded now so nothing should get stolen again.”

“Do you have some results already?” I swallow, expecting something not pleasant.

“I’m no biologist, let’s be clear on that,” she highlights. “First of all, I need help to even understand what I’m looking at. Ingri found me one Earthborn who is a geneticist PhD student. We’re working closely together now and you’ll get to know him soon. Naturally, he’s under a strict confidentiality contract.”

“W-wait a second,” I gasp for breath. “Did you tell him about my telepathy?”

“We did, Her Excellency okayed it. She didn’t tell you?” Julia is genuinely surprised. “We wouldn’t be able to work properly on your samples if he didn’t know.”

It takes me a moment to digest what I’ve just heard. Liana told my secret without my consent, acting behind my wings just because I’m indisposed. Does she take me for incompetent? Or does she naturally act as the Celestial Viceroy would? Which is it? Which is worse? I’ve never been so disappointed by someone in my life. And it’s hundred times more painful because I love her and consider her my closest friend.

“Unbelievable,” I shake my head, broken-hearted. “It’s not Liana’s secret to share!”

“Your Majesty, pardon me, but how many people do you think know right now?” Julia looks at me with a tense expression and also glances at Erik who’s also getting angry.

“How many?” I’m trying to recall the faces of those guards who went with me into the dining hall. “Our gang, Luviael, Miruel, Vermiel and… six guards?”

Julia flinches uncomfortably.

“M-more? How many more, Julia?” I shiver.

“For the convenience, Her Excellency told all your personal guards and your maids as well,” she says feebly. “B-but to be honest, they suspected something was off about you anyway. You’re not as careful as you think when you communicate with Erik and one has a chance to watch you for some time.”

I stare at her, dumbfounded. I expected the worst but it’s even worse than that. Liana… she… basically told everyone who’s taking care of me! How could she? She knows how fiercely I protect my secret. She knows about my trust issues. I feel… betrayed.

“My phone,” I say quietly.

“Ryuu, I bet Liana had a very good reason why she…,” Erik tries to calm me down because he senses my distress.

“Hand me my phone, Erik, please,” I repeat. “I shouldn’t use telekinesis while my wing still isn’t healed.”

Erik doesn’t oppose anymore and passes me my phone. Liana is the second contact on my priority list, right under Erik’s number. She doesn’t let it ring for long.

“Aefener?” she picks up almost immediately. “Do you feel better? Don’t worry about work and rest properly, we’re managing.”

“Did you tell my guards and maids that I’m a telepath?” I ask directly, my voice icy cold. I need to hear it confirmed from her mouth. I need to hear her reasoning and it’s better to be good.

There’re a few seconds of silence.

“I did,” she admits finally.

“Why?” I say plainly. “It wasn’t your secret to share.”

“I needed them to know why we have to protect you at all costs,” she answers extremely slowly. “I needed them to know how to react when you feel overwhelmed again. I needed them to know because we can’t be pushing them behind the closed door every time when we have to discuss something. I needed them to know so that it’s easier for you to be around them. And they’ll be around you all the time from now on.”

“Did you need it or did I need it?” I clutch my fists. “Whose convenience is it? I was hiding it my whole life, Liana, I don’t mind continuing to do so.”

“They won’t tell anyone,” she assures me. “I spoke separately to every one of them. They are our people. Trust them, please. These goes beyond some measly confidentiality contracts. They’re your subjects, Aefener. They want to serve you best to their abilities and for that reason it’s better they know. Think about it—now they know why you don’t like it when strangers touch you so they can prevent it.”

Liana’s arguments do make sense. As expected of my reasonable and calculating businesslike Viceroy. But this isn’t some business deal. This is my most guarded secret. This is about our mutual trust… and she betrayed it. Simple as that. I feel my Celestial Emperor’s nature raging and I have to try hard to push it back a bit.

“You had no right, Liana,” I hiss between my teeth and end the call abruptly so that I don’t say something I might regret later.

“Your Majesty…,” Julia isn’t sure what to do.

“I want to be alone. Please, go away,” I say feebly and feel my eyes getting watery. But I won’t cry. Just won’t.

Julia bites her lip but takes her medical bag and hastily leaves the bedroom.

“Everything okay, Your Majesty?” two guards peek into the bedroom. “The doctor looked quite shaken when she was leaving.”

They know. I don’t even remember their names and they know my secret. They’re looking at me kindly but also apprehensively, knowing that I’m reading their emotions. Guessing how much I can feel from them.

“Some privacy here?” I click my tongue, forget that I shouldn’t use my powers and close the door with telekinesis. “Ouch,” I whine because the wound stings when my mana goes out through it.

“Oh, Ryuu,” Erik is doing his best comforting me but it’s no use.

I’m raging. I’m deeply disappointed. I… dammit! I shouldn’t have thrown Julia out like that, she did nothing wrong. It was my Viceroy who okayed it, not the poor doctor who was just doing her job. And much more. She might be deceiving everyone else that she’s staying with us for her own benefit but she’s way past that. She’s staying for the same reason Erik is—to make a difference.

“I don’t approve of any sorts,” Erik says gently. “Liana should definitely consult you first. But try to look at it from the bright side. We don’t have to be sneaky around our guards and maids anymore.”

“Always seeing the positive. Not working right now, sorry,” I retort venomously but regret it immediately. Erik was just trying to make me feel better. I apologise in my mind and he kindly nods that my apology was accepted.

“I get it you’re angry with Liana, Ryuu, I really do,” he caresses my long silver hair and measures it with his fingers. It now goes all the way down, reaching to the half of my back. “It certainly wasn’t Liana’s secret to tell but as I know her, she was thinking about what’s the best for you.”

“The best for me or the best for the Emperor?” I sulk.

“I’m afraid Celestials don’t see any difference,” he doesn’t dare to sugar-coat it.

“Why?” I rest my chin on his shoulder. “Why every time I think it’s going to be okay and I’ll get used to it somehow, it becomes much worse? Oh, Erik, I don’t want to pull you into this mess. As the Royal Consort, you won’t…”

“Too late for that, don’t you think?” he switches to playing with the feathers between my wings. “Not like I can return to my mundane life now when the whole world knows my face. Not that I even want to. I know what I signed up for, Ryuuto. It was my decision, never think otherwise.”

I rest both in his embrace and his mind. I ponder what the psychologist Zetraya told me about our relationship. Co-dependency. I see how unhealthily I depend on Erik but what about his side? What does he get out of it? He seems so perfect, unlike me. So stable.

“You’re kidding right now, aren’t you?” Erik pulls my feathers. “Me? Perfect?”

“Aren’t you?” I raise my head and all I can see is my loving perfect boyfriend.

“Having an unrealistic image of one’s partner is among the signs of a co-dependent relationship. I looked it up,” he pokes my chin sadly. “As for my vices, I don’t understand how you couldn’t have noticed how jealous and possessive I act.”

“Jealous of what? Whom I mean?” I’m a bit lost. I’ve always known he’s a jealous type but it never seemed to manifest really.

“What about every perspective man around you? Mainly Celestials if I should be specific,” he says and he has to make an effort to admit it. “Why do you think you got Luviael as your adjutant?”

“Eh?” I have no idea what he means by that.

“Capable as she might be, she hasn’t even finished her master’s,” Erik chews his lips and I can tell he’s carefully considering every single word. “Actually, there was one much better Celestial candidate for that position. Liana seriously wanted that person because they had ten-year experience as a consultant and a personal assistant to the director. Any idea why it was Luvi who got the job in the end?”

I look at him, analysing his feelings. He’s afraid—afraid that I might start looking at him differently when he reveals it. But takes the leap of faith and does it anyway.

“Luvi was chosen because I told Liana I just won’t stand it to have a perspective Celestial man in your proximity all the time,” he says extremely slowly. “I saw his profile. He was really handsome and just eight years older than you. And he was openly bi, single and well… he has wings, obviously. I was scared, to be honest. I’m scared that one day, I won’t be enough for you. That you will exchange me for your own kind.”

I must be staring at him for too long because he gets flustered.

“W-well…?” he nudges me nervously. “Say something, please. Say that I’m a possessive bastard who thinks that can own you.”

But I don’t mind really. Am I that messed up and in need of a psychologist? Is our telepathic connection interfering? I can’t be angry that he did something behind my wings when he did it out of fear of losing me. Besides, I’m glad that I got Luvi in the end—someone who is close to me in both age and life experience.

“That’s not the point, Ryuu,” Erik nudges me again, reading my thoughts, because he still didn’t get my answer. And he wants to hear it aloud.

“Okay,” I take a breath. “First, you’re stupid if you think I’ll stop loving you just because you’re not a Celestial. Second, you’re stupid if you think that I don’t love and appreciate you even more for being human and giving me exactly what I need right now. And thirdly, you’re stupid if you think that I might not enjoy being owned by you.”

“Ryuu,” Erik blushes. “That’s arousing of you to say but we should find some healthy balance.”

“We can start looking for it now,” I kiss him and gobble his mind. We might both be messed up but, in my eyes, he’s perfect.

We begin to cuddle but just as we think that we’ll actually manage to have a very careful sex if we watch for my injured wing, there’s an urgent knocking on the door. Who’s bothering us now?!

“Oh, I feel Liana and Fefnir,” I lean back from Erik’s chest and my annoyance disappears.

“Probably came to apologise?” Erik remarks. “Do come in!”

The door slowly opens and Fefnir appears, carrying Liana in his arms. It’s evident that her weight is nothing to him, did he get bigger again? How many hours a day does he exercise to get muscles like that? Liana looks so tiny compared to him even if her black huge wings make her look larger.

I’m angry at her. I should be angry at her. Yet, I can’t muster real anger when I see her face to face. She’s my Viceroy. She’s doing the best she can, I have no doubt. But I feel betrayed and it hurts. I want my absolute trust in her back. Is that even possible?

“Aefener,” she looks at me with a guilty expression and doesn’t know how to starts so she blurts out the most generic phrase: “Do you feel better?”

“Obviously,” I say coldly on purpose. “Do you have a reason why you’re interrupting me cuddling with my partner? I have nothing to say to you.”

“Please, don’t be like that,” she surprises me because her voice gets teary. And I’ve never seen her truly emotionally teary, not even when her wings were coming out. It makes me soften a bit.

“Just hear her out,” Fefnir sighs and seats Liana on our bed. “For the record, I disagreed but I think it wasn’t such a bad thing to do.”

Liana devotes a few seconds to stretching her wings. They’re really huge now and it appears she’s struggling with their new size. And she’s stalling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this anxious. The Emperor who lost trust in his Viceroy… she just won’t have it. I don’t want to have it either. We need to heal our relationship and there’s something purely Celestial about it—as if we’re not doing it for ourselves but for the good of our race.

“Okay… so,” she finally starts and tries looking straight into my eyes. “I stand by my decision but I should have consulted you before I did it.”

“That you should,” I say grumpily, waiting for her to continue. I can feel she earnestly wants to apologise but at the same time she’s convinced about her truth.

“Most of the guards closest to you, apart from those you connected to during the attack, half-suspected already,” she clutches her robe nervously because she knows that her argument isn’t exactly satisfactory to me. “Vermiel told me that his colleagues were constantly asking him about it.”

“You weren’t as careful as you thought,” Fefnir repeats what Julia mentioned. “It’s almost impossible to try hiding something from a person whose job is to literally watch over you. The guards were starting to notice that you and Erik behave strangely around each other. You didn’t talk enough, yet you always knew everything about the other. And your expressions kept changing without an apparent reason. I recall that’s how Ingri found out first, right?”

“But the guards kept their suspicion to themselves, they didn’t gossip about it to anyone else,” Liana adds. “I assessed that proved their loyalty enough so I decided to tell them. Now you don’t have to hide anything in front of them and we can speak freely even with them around.”

“And the maids?” I’m still not convinced I want to forgive her so easily. “They’re new…”

“Well, I assumed,” she feels most guilty about this part, “that it’ll be simply easier for you if they know. They’re taking care of your apartment, they’ll be around a lot. I didn’t want you having to hide it at your home but at the same time I knew that you’d probably hesitate to tell them for a long time. So… I took the liberty. I know that I shouldn’t have but I did it and I don’t regret it.”

“So are you sorry or not, Liana?” I want to hear it clearly because I feel two conflicting emotions inside of her.

“I’m sorry that I acted behind your wings and disappointed your trust in me,” she declares and tries to sound firm. Tries. “But at the same time I think I had to do it. For you.”

“Did you do it for me, your friend, or for me, the Emperor?” I decide to ask a trick question because I’m really interested in the answer.

So far, Liana seemed closest to me in thinking. She didn’t appear as effected by mental changes as the rest of Draconians. Or so I thought at least before she blinks and looks at me, confused.

“I don’t see any difference,” she says without a trace of doubt in her mind.