Chapter 54:

No Rest for the Emperor

Draconia Offline

I wake up sore. Gotrid and Erik are squeezing me between them, I’m partially lying on Erik’s chest and Gotrid’s wings are covering me. I sit up and rub my stiff neck. Then I slowly pull my wing from under Erik’s arm.

We didn’t have sex in the end, it didn’t come to that. But I think I was successful in bringing them closer. I’m not that naïve to think that Erik and Gotrid will suddenly be lovey-dovey with each other, I still expect a lot of teasing between them, but at least Erik doesn’t hate Gotrid anymore and Gotrid doesn’t think of him as a rival he has to compete with in every situation.

Erik normally always wakes up before me but I guess he’s tired from both jet lag and a demanding telepathic connection. Gotrid is sleeping like a log, also exhausted from his very first telepathic link. I look lovingly at them, smile and kiss them on their foreheads.

I still can’t believe it; I have two partners now! My love for Erik grew deeper—if it’s even possible—and my heart is warm with new love developing for Gotrid. I feel a dopamine rush as my telepathic brain is probably rewarding me for finally giving it what it wanted from the beginning.

I was a tiny bit worried that my Celestial nature would start preferring a Celestial partner but nothing of that sort happened. Sure, Gotrid’s gorgeous wings arouse me but so does Erik’s muscular human body. Besides, I’m much more attracted to their minds than their bodies anyway.

Except for mild soreness, I actually feel energised. And surprisingly hungry. I carefully get up, not wanting to wake them up because they deserve to rest. I put on my night gown so that I’m not naked in front of the maids and guards and silently leave the bedroom.

“Oh, Your Majesty, up so early?”

I catch Ayala cleaning the apartment because my guards would never let in human personnel. She’s partially using magic to do that—handy water spells and telekinesis. It certainly makes chores much quicker but not necessarily energy-saving because mana equals calories for us. Still, it’s impressive to look at and Ayala seems to enjoy it.

“We went to sleep early,” I say, “but let those two sleep some more, okay?”

“Of course,” she giggles. “I take it everything went excellent last night?”

I roll my eyes. Why are my subjects so interested in my love life? But I resignedly gave up privacy weeks ago. The Celestial Emperor doesn’t get to have privacy, I had to accept the fact. At least I get to choose my partners.

“Could I have an early breakfast, please?” I look at the clock and it’s only quarter past six. “Just a sandwich and coffee are fine.”

“Of course,” Ayala bows and runs off.

“Good morning,” I greet the guards who are standing by the door. I made an effort to remember all their names but they hardly ever talk to me when on duty. They take their job deadly serious and won’t be distracted.

I sit on the sofa and realise that I actually don’t have anything to do. My laptop is still in my luggage which is in the bedroom so I can’t reach it without risking waking up my partners. So I really have nothing to do? I think I haven’t had a lazy morning since… forever!

“Is there any possibility I could go for a flight?” I ask the guards. They have to answer a direct question, obviously.

“I’m afraid not, Your Majesty,” they have to disappoint me.

I sigh but I expected it. Lazy morning it is then. I find a blanket in a basket next to the sofa, wrap myself in it and look for a remote. I’m sure there’s a holographic projector built-in somewhere. And, of course, there is—the latest model! As expected of a five-star hotel and a presidential suite.

I ignore the news channels and look for interesting subscriptions. Naturally, such an expensive hotel has a whole bunch of them. While I did watch a few movies with Erik, I didn’t have any time to catch up on my favourite shows. I really need at least one day a week off, however much my Emperor’s nature might protest against it.

“Is this okay, Your Majesty?” Ayala brings me a freshly-made egg sandwich and a latté because she knows that I can’t stand coffee without milk and sugar. “I’d bring you more but you’re expected to eat in the restaurant and socialise so it’d be appropriate if you still had some space in your stomach left considering how little you eat.”

“Thanks, perfect,” I appreciate and decide not to go into an argument with her about my dietary needs.

I decide to watch an episode of a sci-fi show I really liked before my transformation and being wrapped into the blanket and slowly munching on a sandwich, it does feel like a lazy morning. I almost feel normal. Anyway, as normal as the Emperor can feel. I finish one episode and continue with another. What a pleasant morning indeed.

“Ryuu, how could you…!” Erik suddenly storms in, red with anger. “I woke up hugging that guy’s wing instead of yours!!!”

“I didn’t break your stupid rule, you groped me first,” Gotrid runs after him. “My Emperor, why didn’t you wake us up?”

“You needed to rest,” I sip my latté, unperturbed by their wild entrée.

“What are you watching?” Erik lands next to me and takes my right wing for cuddling to heal his apparent trauma.

“The Unknown Universe!” Gotrid instantly recognises the show.

“You like it?” I smile and enjoy how natural it feels when Gotrid sits next to me as well.

“I’m a huge fan, I read the books,” he boasts. “I can lend them to you if you want.”

“Nerd,” Erik purses his lips at him.

I perceive that he feels insecure all of a sudden—afraid that I might bond with Gotrid over geeky stuff. It’s a nice plus in a partner, I’m not denying it, but as if I’d really care. I love Erik for him, not for his hobbies.

“Your Majesty, Royal Consorts, it’s almost half past eight and you need to get ready,” Ayala reminds us. She’s eyeing Gotrid with a grin, openly approving. While all my subjects respect Erik, Gotrid is what they consider proper for the Celestial Emperor.

“What the…!” Erik laments when checking his phone. “Couldn’t they wait after the conference?”

“Is something wrong?” I peek.

“They didn’t wait a day and officially announced that you’ve taken the second Consort,” Erik says, irritated.

“We wanted to give Celestials some good light-hearted news,” Ayala quickly explains, well aware that they promoted it without my consent. “The media is full of politics which is mostly depressing. Our people desperately need to hear something positive.”

“We didn’t plan to hide it anyway, right?” Gotrid comments and, unlike Erik, he’s happy that it’s out. “Besides, I want to boast that I’m dating my Emperor.”

I sigh. But Gotrid’s right, everybody will see that we’re all lovey-dovey anyway and I don’t want to hide things that aren’t necessary to hide. Too many secrets are difficult to keep. Still, it seems I’ll need to have a serious conversation with the people who manage my image on the social media because it’s not only Ingri anymore. They just can’t share things about my personal life like that.

Ayala gets really impatient at this point and nudges us to dress up. Gotrid makes a teary scene when he has to return to his room to change clothes but Erik is relieved when he’s gone at least for a little while.

I kiss him and I connect to him momentarily to check on how he’s doing. I’m proud of him and worried at the same time. Erik isn’t exactly a fan of polyamory, can he manage? Isn’t he forcing himself too much? Am I not being selfish after all? Maybe I’m horribly greedy, wanting two partners.

“You know,” I say slowly. “It’s not exactly polyamory if each partner doesn’t pursue their own interests. With a consent of all parties, of course.”

“What do you want to say, Ryuu?” Erik raises his eyebrow.

“Just that… ehm… that if you ever want to date a human because you miss your kind… I mean… I wouldn’t stand in your way,” I mumble. “We could make it work somehow.”

“You would really be okay with it?” he gets quite pissed off.

“I-it would only be e-equal,” I stutter, confused that he doesn’t know what’s polyamory about since he agreed to it. But there’s something else as well. I suddenly don’t feel good about it. What’s wrong with me?

“That’s not an answer,” he frowns and catches my chin. “Would you really be okay with it? Be honest with me.”

“No,” I let out, astonishing myself. Am I the possessive one in the end? I want Erik just for myself. I’m greedy. Greedy, greedy, greedy. I should feel ashamed. Yet, my Celestial Emperor’s nature doesn’t let me feel that way.

“Good, that’s what I wanted to hear,” his expression brightens.

“You did?!” I blink.

“I’m glad that you’re not willing to share me,” he grins. “I don’t care about the rules of polyamory, I’m not taking another partner beside you. And Gotrid is the same, by the way, we talked about it. We’re Royal Consorts, totally devoted to you.”

“That’s sweet and all but His Majesty has to dress up,” Ayala interrupts us. “And you as well, Royal Consort.”

He goes to shave so I have some time to ponder while Ayala is putting all the layers on me. Erik is still very jealous, he just consciously decided to switch his jealousy the other way. Now he’s happy with me being possessive. I guess it makes sense… kind of. Still, didn’t we just turn the issue other way instead of solving it? Or is it something I simply can’t avoid because of who and what I am?

I’d allow Erik to take a human partner if it made him happy because I want to see him happy and that’s what genuine love is about. But, at the same time, I have a dark suspicion that it’d torment both my telepathic brain and my Emperor’s nature. I have a feeling that dating the Celestial Emperor should be considered to be a very demanding job not everyone is cut for.

“I asked them to move my stuff here,” Gotrid is waiting for us in the lobby with his luggage. “As for the rest of my most prized possessions, Liana allowed me to send two Dragonkin to visit my apartment and pack everything for me.”

“Great, he’s moving in,” Erik rolls his eyes.

“Obviously, Royal Consort, it makes sense I’ll live in His Majesty’s private quarters when we return to Europe,” Gotrid sings.

“Let’s hope there’ll be space for you, Royal Consort,” Erik retorts. “But I guess you can take the sofa.”

“Seriously, guys?” I sigh and gently slap both of them.

Because we’re ready to go, Erik quickly grabs my right hand. Gotrid follows and grabs my left one.

“That’s… actually embarrassing,” I shake them both.

“I thought you’re used to polyamoric relationships, Your Majesty?” Gotrid tilts his head.

“Not at the same time!” I set the record straight.

“Are you coming or are you having your first relationship drama?” Liana meets us in the hall. “Try to behave in front of everyone, okay? The press is always present and when it comes to race rulers, even the most prestigious channels are after a tabloid story.”

“Did you announce it right after our dinner last night?” I suspect her.

“Better to hear it from the official source than give space to rumours and speculations,” she shrugs, not questioning her decision in the slightest. “Let’s go, love doves, time to work.”


“They’re staring even more than yesterday,” I grumble and my smile is cringy.

“Well, not only I’m finally accompanying you today, your new partner is a fresh news,” Erik says and helps me get the fabric of my ceremonial robe under control. There’re still a few minutes left before a morning session.

“Won’t you be bored?” I worry because he can’t stay with me.

“Are you kidding?” he laughs. “I expect thorough questioning from all spouses that the delegates brought with them.”

I see Gotrid talking to my guards that took position by the walls and Vermiel shaking his head for some reason. Gotrid then returns to me, obviously saddened.

“They said I can’t join them because I’m not the royal guard even though I was in the game,” he cries. “Can’t you just order them, Your Majesty?”

“I have no power over my protection,” I have to disappoint him. “You’d have to talk to Liana about it.”

“On the second thought, better not bother Her Excellency,” Gotrid waves his hand.

“She’s not that scary, you know,” I poke him and look at her chatting with Bauerova a few metres away from us.

“Only you might think that, my Emperor,” he disagrees.

I have to think about it for a moment. Sure, Liana is very strict, uncompromising, ambitious and demanding but scary? No, no way. She’s also so kind, open-minded, non-judgmental and supportive. One of the best people I’ve ever met.

“Try not to argue too much during socialising, will you?” Liana returns to her seat when it’s almost time to start. “Elizabeth will introduce you to a few diplomats and it’d also help a lot if you could leave a good impression when it comes to the wife of the Japanese Prime Minister. We’re meeting their delegation in the afternoon.”

“Are you excited about meeting the representatives of your homeland, Your Majesty?” Gotrid is curious.

“I consider Bohemia to be my homeland,” I answer and take a conspicuous look to the left side of the hall where they’re sitting.

Since there’re hundreds of people in the hall, it’s hard for me to perceive anyone specifically unless I really focus on them. So I do try now. The Japanese Prime Minister’s expression is unreadable but I can feel that he’s nervous about meeting us. Our gazes meet and when he realises I’m watching him, he starts sweating.

“Are you listening, Your Majesty?” Gotrid takes my hand. “I was asking you if you need another glass of water.”

Sorry, I was trying to read the Japanese Prime Minister, I answer telepathically.

Gotrid has experienced connecting to me yesterday but not a casual telepathic conversation so he twitches in surprise. Then to quickly cover his weird move, he pretends that he has to scratch his wing. Erik pulls him by his sleeve because it’s high time for them to go.

“I’m not sure if you’ll be more distracted or less now that you have a Celestial partner as well,” Liana winks at me and it’s the last thing she manages to do before the first speaker presents their topic.

In the second half, Deminas talks about the situation in Russia and middle-Asia. Most delegates managed to get used to his formidable presence by now so they’re finally able to listen properly.

I’m a bit worried that he’ll take Fefnir with him. Fefnir didn’t say anything, only Emi was explicit about not returning to Prague, but everything is changing by the minute. I hardly had any time to talk to my dear friend and every time I saw him, he was with his Patriarch. I really like having him around, will he be taken away from me as well?

I’m reunited with Erik and Gotrid at lunch. My head is slightly hurting but nothing I can’t handle and their presence makes me feel better immediately. They cheerfully tell me about all those people they met and how many diplomats they managed to charm. I’m smiling the whole time, I simply love listening to their voices and they’ve been working hard on networking.

Luviael wants to seat me between Werden and Emi this time but I refuse. At first, I think she’ll insist I sit by the race rulers but then she nods and lets me sit next to my partners, suspecting that I need to connect to them and find my balance again. Unlike sitting next to Liana or the others, it doesn’t look weird when I spread my wings to hug my partners.

Can Gotrid hear me? Erik asks when the starter is brought to us.

Sure, if you want me to connect you, I answer and taste something that looks like a biscuit with a cheese on top. Gotrid, do you want to try my telepathic communication?

This time he isn’t startled but he’s thinking too frantically.

Just think about what you want to say and voice it internally, I give him a hint.

Like that, Your Majesty?

Hey, I heard that, Erik confirms.

Fascinating! You’re truly miraculous, my Emperor!

Act nonchalant, Gotrid, we have to be careful in public, I warn him. Talk aloud as much as you can about unimportant stuff.

But for now, we’re safe. Soup arrives so it’s not weird that we don’t speak because everyone is too busy sipping. Only Liana is aware that we must be communicating telepathically because it’s what I always do with Erik.

The afternoon session is broken into smaller groups so that we can discuss specific issues. Twyla and Werden go talk to the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Deminas and Fefnir have a meeting with several Asian officials and Emi with her Beta Gin have to think of a strategy how to deal with forming Clawfang packs all over the world that are making the locals nervous.

As for me and Liana, we’re meeting the Japanese delegation to discuss the ongoing investigation. Technically, I am a Japanese citizen because I have a dual citizenship so Liana thought it might help us gain their favour but I don’t think so. While I was born there, I don’t behave like a Japanese and Japan is still a very traditional country in that aspect.

“Your Majesty,” the Japanese Prime Minister Ichikawa performs a perfect bow.

It’s the kind of bow he’s no doubt using when addressing the members of the Japanese royal family. Naturally, he’s a bit reluctant to use it with me but he doesn’t let it show. To impress the delegates, I utter a few opening sentences in Japanese just to make them happy and to be seem more approachable. They certainly seem to appreciate it.

“We’re truly doing our best but the investigation brought no significant results so far,” Ichikawa admits. “The company that ran Draconia Online, Nebula, was founded in 1960s when first computers started to emerge, as a component supplier. It was pretty low-key until they launched Draconia out of the blue, stunning the whole gaming society.”

“But you must have spoken to the employees,” Liana presses him.

“We questioned everyone,” Ichikawa nods. “But the leading developers disappeared and middle and lower echelon engineers were just taking care of the assets and servers. When we questioned the designers, they told us that they were given specific instructions on how the races and the world are supposed to look like. They claim to have no artistic freedom but being paid handsomely.”

“Four GMs were actually playing with us, pretending to be normal players,” Gotrid recalls. “They must have transformed as well.”

“Missing as well,” the Prime Minister sighs. “All servers have been wiped out clear. Even if someone wanted to play Draconia Online now, there’s no available copy. At least no we’re aware of.”

“So we still have no lead,” Liana says grumpily.

“Except maybe one,” Ichikawa nervously adjusts his tie and is afraid to look me in the eye. “His Majesty’s mother was an employee of Nebula for five years. We don’t know anything about her position but the company was paying for her health and social insurance. When she left, she started her own company that also dealt with VR but it was absorbed by Nebula after her tragic death.”

“And you made that connection because you obviously ran a security check on our Emperor when he first appeared on the news,” Liana bites her lip.

“Sorry about that, we had to,” Ichikawa apologises. “Your Majesty, I know that you were just a child but don’t you remember anything at all?”

I consider for a moment what’s safe to reveal. I can’t mention my telepathy but telling them that I was testing VR helmets could help the investigation.

“I vaguely remember testing VR headsets,” I say. “Nothing else, though.”

“Testing VR gear? When you were just three or four?” the Prime Minister is taken aback. “It’s illegal to have child test subjects!”

“I’m aware,” I nod. “I guess that’s why Mom used her own kid. We think that it might be the reason why my VR compatibility was so high.”

“And you really know nothing about your presumed father?” Ichikawa asks.

“Nothing at all,” I say and a shiver goes down my spine upon just mentioning him.

“It can’t be a coincidence,” he ponders. “Your Majesty, I know that you’re innocent in all that because you weren’t even born when your mother was working for Nebula but it clearly does involve your family. We kindly ask for your cooperation.”

“Of course, you have it,” I promise.

I’ve been checking Ichikawa and his entourage during the whole conversation and there’s nothing indicating that he isn’t telling the truth or has ulterior motives. He’s just a very stressed man who’s desperately trying to solve a mystery while protecting his country. The Japanese government must be under tremendous pressure because it’s been months and they aren’t any closer to providing answers.

We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing other important issues at hand and generally networking. Erik’s presence is miraculous and, as I predicted, makes us much more approachable. I can feel that a few delegates disapprove that I have two partners now but they eventually come to terms with it. After all, I’m not human so human concepts no longer apply to me.

“Can we go now?” I ask, exhaustion getting to me around six o’clock. Fortunately, my headache isn’t as bad. Having two partners by my side is really helping me out because whenever I feel overwhelmed, I just grab their hand to get into balance again.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible yet, Aefener, there’s a banquet today,” Liana shakes her head.

“Can’t we just skip, Your Excellency? His Majesty is really tired,” Gotrid pleads and because my link to him is almost fully established at this point, he can tell exactly how I feel when he’s touching me.

“Informal networking is just as important, Gotrid,” she purses her lips which makes him flinch. Really, is she that scary?

“And wellbeing of your Emperor isn’t?” Erik isn’t as easily intimidated because he’s used to her by now. “Ryuu has been having a headache the whole day.”

“Of course, it’s of utmost importance,” she sighs. “But we can’t leave now. Give it two more hours, okay? Then it won’t look bad if we excuse ourselves a bit early.”

“It’s okay, Erik, Gotrid, I’ll manage,” I assure them. “Would you get me some of those delicious canapés to fill my stomach, please?”

I discovered that the best approach to distract someone is to give them a task. It certainly works on my two lovers who run to the buffet tables to pick the best pieces and them rushing to Werden to check them.

Liana is chatting with the Chinese delegates instead of me so I can relax for a little while. I tiredly watch the buzz in the room, realising again and again that all these top-class politicians and influential people are not as formidable as I originally thought. Just people with their agendas, some of them surprisingly quite good, the others more to the greedy egoistical side but still so human.

I stop by the crowd near the balcony. At first, I have no idea what’s bothering me because I don’t feel any bad emotions. I recognise one of them, a woman who was sitting next to the Prime Minister, recording the points we went through. There’s another Japanese standing a bit further away and just listening to them—an elderly man with a seemingly bored expression but intense presence.

And then I finally realise what isn’t adding up. I see seven people but feel only six! But that just isn’t possible, everyone is always feeling something, even psychopaths. Yet, that man… he’s blank. There’s nothing. As if he wasn’t even here. Isn’t he a hologram? No, he’s solid and holding a glass of wine. And then he notices that I’m looking at him. He pierces me with his eyes that are black and cold.

I want to look away immediately but I’m too fascinated. How can I get nothing? Nothing at all? I focus more, maybe his imprint is just faint and I’m too tired. The man smirks as if he knows what I’m doing. I suddenly get goosebumps under my feathers and become really scared. He’s like a black hole.

Snooping around? an unknown voice resonates in my head, speaking in Japanese. Let’s see if you’re ready.

A sharp pain goes through my skull, almost blinding me. I have no idea what’s happening and how it’s even possible but there’s something pushing onto my mind so I instinctively push back. I’m successful but that force doesn’t let me rest for long and pushes again, this time more strongly.

I have to retreat deeper into my mind to defend myself and there’s another spasm of pain that makes me wobble. I feel my mental blocks crumbling.

“Aefener, what’s wrong?!” Liana notices something’s wrong with me and panics.

“Ryuuto! You’re bleeding from your nose!” Erik quickly returns and shoves the plate with canapés to one of the delegates so that he can hold me because my legs give in.

“My Emperor!” Gotrid hugs me from behind and envelops me into his wings to hide me from the horrified onlookers.

“Werden, Twyla! Something’s wrong with Aefener!” Liana shouts for our Earthborn friends.

I want to warn them that the man is dangerous but he disappears in the commotion. I’m becoming really dizzy and my vision starts to blur. I desperately call the names of my partners and then the darkness takes me.