Chapter 63:

A Breather Before the Storm

Draconia Offline

“Let’s try again,” Ingri nudges the Dragonkin she successfully caught and brought back. “Hint: Start with your name.”

“M-my name is Haldis,” the Dragonkin speaks up with an uncertain voice.

“I’m not that scary, am I?” I whisper to Gotrid because the Dragonkin is visibly shaking.

“Cute as ever,” my partner assures me. “It seems the problem lies elsewhere.”

“Go on, continue,” Ingri nudges Haldis again. “As you can see, Erik and Gotrid are His Majesty’s official Consorts so you don’t have to be anxious about it in front of them of all people.”

Haldis studies me for a long moment and takes a deep breath. I can recognise anxiety when I see it so I smile at Haldis encouragingly.

“My pronouns are they/them,” Haldis blurts out, tensely awaiting my response.

Oh, I see. So that’s part of the reason why Haldis is so nervous and why I was momentarily confused by their looks and the way their mind feels like—neutral. Being androgynous myself, I try to never assume anyone’s gender. But it gets twice as tricky in case of new races, especially the Dragonkin whole females are rare in occurrence and lack breasts because they aren’t mammals.

Come to think of it, I have yet to properly meet a Dragonkin female. The Dragonkin were a popular race choice among male players but not as much among female players. Predicting this, the developers incorporated the fact into the lore, stating that Dragonkin females make only one fourth of their population. I have to ask Fefnir how all that works in their society.

“Nice to meet you, Haldis,” I wink at them. “How did you get to know our Ingri?”

“We were playing Draconia together,” they say slowly, still not believing that I didn’t even flinch when they told me their pronouns. “Ingri helped me get away from my family that…,” they stop and their voice breaks.

“That’s okay, Haldis,” Ingri comforts them. “Take it slowly and don’t worry, His Majesty is very kind.”

“I heard you moved away, Ingri,” I say quickly to distract Ingri’s friend from an imminent mental breakdown that was pretty close just now. They aren’t ready to talk about it yet which I respect but Haldis assumed they have to tell me because I’m the Emperor. “Is Haldis your flat-mate then?”

“They are,” she nods.

“Will you be okay?” I’m concerned. “You’re quite famous yourself for being my social media manager. A lot of people recognise you.”

“Not so easy, I’m an Earthborn,” she grins. “I can change my appearance for the convenience’s sake. Besides, we found an apartment in a block of flats with only Draconians as residents. It’s not far from here and locals got used to seeing many Draconians in the streets. I’ll be fine.”

“Were you assigned a job already, Haldis?” I ask. “I hope to give everyone a job they will enjoy but I’m afraid it won’t be so easy in the beginning.”

“Actually,” Haldis steps nervously, “I don’t mean to boast but I pride myself to be an artisan.”

“Really?” I’m pleasantly surprised.

“Just say it, you’re sooo freaking good at it,” Ingri nudges them again. “You should see the armour Haldis made even long before transforming. And now that they have the Dragonkin’s fire breath, fire resistance and strength…”

“It was just for LARP,” Haldis cries, embarrassed that Ingri flatters them so much.

“If you created something with your Dragonkin powers already, I’d love to see it,” I smile warmly, genuinely enthusiastic about it. “Don’t be shy if it’s just a prototype, everything we will create in the first years will be.”

“I’m not shy… I…,” Haldis stops, trying to find the right words and panicking again.

“I’m not a Clawfang so I don’t bite,” I try to make a joke.

“I… have… s-social anxiety,” Haldis reveals with difficulties. “And I’m on the autistic spectrum,” they add, embarrassed. “I often don’t understand what’s expected of me in social situations and how to behave in front of someone like… like the Celestial Emperor.”

“Just use the official title and bow whenever the Emperor enters the room,” Ingri summarises for them. “I’m sure His Majesty will be benevolent towards minor blunders.”

I try not to stare at Haldis because I know it makes them even more nervous but I really like their unique mind. They’re a bit similar to me which is refreshing. I’m a bit sad that everything about me seems to unnerve Haldis—my angelic appearance, my title, my protective subjects—but I hope I can get to know them better in future.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your introductions but we have work to do,” Liana speaks up from her table, reminding us that there’s been an emergency.

“Y-Your Majesty,” Haldis bows politely before they’re forced to leave.

Haldis has no part in our inner government, I bet Ingri just got an exception for a few minutes to introduce them as her friend so that I’m not confused if I see them together or when she talks about them. But I’m definitely looking forward to Haldis’s crafting so I have a good excuse to summon them.

“Long story short, there’s been another attack,” Liana announces dryly.

“Where?” I sigh out.

“Korea,” she says. “I’m not freaking out only because there were several Dragonkin nearby and they killed the monsters before they could hurt anyone.”

“Ah,” I collapse into my chair, relieved that there were no casualties. “We have to speed up the process of establishing battle units.”

“Exactly. Bennett called a few minutes ago, urging us to do so,” she nods. “Let’s get to it then.”

We start the debate and Liana is inclined to make military service pretty much compulsory for Draconians. But I strongly disagree.

“Nobody should be forced to risk their lives,” I shake my head. “This isn’t the twenty-first century, we should know better than that.”

“What do you suggest them?” Liana purses her lips.

“Recruit Draconians who want to do it professionally and let them train for it,” I say.

“What if we don’t get enough recruits?” Gotrid worries.

“Not all Draconians are fit for combat,” I remind everyone. “Would you send my maids to fight a heligorr head-on? Would you send Haldis?”

“Okay, I get your point,” Liana agrees in the end. “How will we go about it then?”

“I’ll write a plea to all Draconians,” I say. “And we’ll see how many sign up willingly.”

“Oh, I can vividly see that job description,” Gotrid can’t help chuckling. “Protect humans, earn eternal glory and loot. P.S. The EU is paying you. Who wouldn’t sign up?”

I roll my eyes theatrically and get to writing. I’m very careful with my wording but I don’t hide anything. Draconians need to know what they’re signing up for. I also make it very clear that there will be other jobs available soon because I don’t want anyone feeling forced to do it just to earn money. They might have been enthusiastic about battling monster in the game but this is real. They’ll be risking their lives.

I post the plea and for an hour, I’m afraid Liana was right and we won’t get enough volunteers. Then first applications start coming and soon they’re not only coming, they’re flooding from all over the globe.

“We can do it,” I whisper, moved. “Draconians are eager to fight.”

“For money, for loot, for glory or for humans?” Erik is tiny bit sceptical.

“All of it together?” I guess and call Bennett.

We spend the evening discussing where to strategically establish Draconian hubs, similarly to firefighter’s stations. They have to be at places from which Draconians can get quickly anywhere in the vicinity, not only Celestials with their flying advantage. Also, it would be ideal if such units consisted of all races because our powers work best when combined.

It’s half past nine when we finish for the day, that much for my work-life balance. How naïve are those who think that being the Celestial Emperor must mean living surrounded by luxury and being doted on by servants. Only the part about luxury is possibly true, otherwise there’s only never-ending workload and being anxiously protected.

“I think I just want to sleep,” I land on our new spacious bed when we get home.

Home. I like how that word sounds. Unlike the previous place, our new apartment finally feels comfortable enough to be called that. But it’s mainly my partners that make it homey for me. Erik and Gotrid being here with me are the reason this is home.

“Not even cuddling?” Gotrid quickly gets to me and buries his nose into the feathers that are growing along my spine and are extra soft.

“Oh, y-you…!” I twitch because his tongue finds my sensitive spot—an erogenous spot of every Celestial.

“If Ryuu wants to sleep, let him,” Erik frowns at his rival. “And let’s change for pyjamas or the maids will be angry with us for wrinkling our clothes again.”

Erik has it quite easy, even with a three-piece suit he’s done quickly. We take much longer, Celestials robes are multi-layered and tied in a complicated manner. As for pyjamas, Erik uses it as a figure of speech mostly. While I do own some night robes, we usually sleep naked under my wings. And now Gotrid’s wings as well.

“Nope, not working,” Erik clicks his tongue when Gotrid presses me to his chest. “I can’t lie on Ryuu’s wings, you moron.”

“Lie under them then,” he smirks.

“Boys,” I warn them wearily. “I’m tired and not in mood for your bickering right now.”

“Let’s take turns,” Gotrid suggests quickly, scared of being sent to sleep on the sofa. “We can’t force our Emperor to lie squeezed between us all the time so let’s agree we stay like this for today and tomorrow it’s your turn, Erik.”

“Pff,” Erik retorts a little but slips under my wings, pulling them over his body like a blanket.

I tickle him with my feathers and send him my love to assure him that I’m not preferring Gotrid. Then I connect all three of us and we fall asleep, mingled in my mind.


“Ryuu,” Erik touches my arm. “Are you listening?”

“Sorry, I wasn’t,” I admit and try to hide the fact that my eyes got teary.

The Prime Minister sent me a police file on my Grandma’s murder this morning and as I was reading it, sadness overcame me again. I took a glimpse of the crime scene and just that made me nauseous because I recognised Grandma’s kitchen in the photo… and bloodstains. I wasn’t brave enough to see the body.

“Don’t look at it,” Erik forbids me and closes the file for me. “In fact, put someone else on the case. You’re too sensitive about it still.”

“You’re right,” I nod. “What were you saying?”

“Our lawyers need to know if you want to sell her apartment,” he repeats.

“Her apartment?” I don’t understand.

“You’re her only inheritor so everything she owned belongs to you now,” he explains patiently and hugs me in advance, sensing my mood deteriorating quickly.

“Sell it and use that money for one of our projects, I don’t want it personally,” I whisper and a tear drops down my cheek after all.

“Love, breakfast is ready in the dining room and…,” Gotrid enters the lounge and becomes horrified when he sees me half-crying.

He hurries to me and embraces both me and Erik into his wings. In times like these, my two partners cease to be rivals and become allies. We stay like this, hidden from the eyes of my omnipresent guards, until my eyes dry.


It was supposed to be just a regular health check-up so the worst I expected was to be yelled at about losing weight during the conference. I certainly didn’t expect to arrive at Julia’s infirmary and find the doctor, Noage and Liana waiting for me with dead serious expressions.

“Care to explain this?” Liana narrows her eyes and purses her lips at the same time which makes her look especially strict.

At first, I have no idea why she’s holding one of my feathers. Was another one that was ripped from my wings by humans found? Then I realise I left one hidden in my wardrobe.

“They found it when remodelling the apartment and moving your stuff,” Liana continues. “We’re lucky our people have enough subtlety to keep their mouth shut when it comes to state secrets.”

“So? Ryuu wanted to keep it,” Erik doesn’t understand the fuss whereas Gotrid gets the gist almost immediately and his eyes widen.

Erik doesn’t understand because he can’t feel it. The others missed it as well before because their senses were still developing and weren’t as acute. But that’s in the past now and any Celestial should be fully attuned to sensing even the slightest amount of mana from any source.

“I wanted to tell you but I forgot,” I blurt out apologetically.

“When?” Liana clicks her tongue.

“E-eventually?” I gulp. “I wanted to experiment a bit but I never got to it. Too much work.”

“Tell WHAT?” Erik demands, impatient at this point. He’s always on edge when Draconian matters elude him.

“Apparently, our Emperor’s feathers have the unique ability to store mana,” Julia explains. “Moreover, even after they’ve been ripped off from him.”

“They do?” Erik is shocked.

“Magical,” Gotrid caresses my wings with awe. “Why can’t we normally feel it?”

“Because His Majesty’s mana is so enormous that it’s impossible to distinguish mana from his mana circuit from mana stored in his feathers when they’re still attached to the wings,” Noage takes over. “That’s our scientific explanation anyway, not that neither me or Dr Julia can feel it, sadly.”

“We are you angry, Your Excellency? Do you expect anything less from our embodiment of magic?” Gotrid chuckles and doesn’t stop petting me, mesmerised by the discovery.

“In that aspect, no,” Liana admits. “But we promised no more secrets. We guard our Emperor fiercely but we still allow too many people to touch his wings. What if someone dares to rip his feathers again?”

“Oi!” I shudder just thinking about it.

“This could serve as a mana battery, Your Majesty, don’t you realise?” Noage points out. “It could be a game changer when it comes to casting spells.”

“I’m sure gems would prove much more practical than plucking my feathers,” I puff.

“Gems!!!” Liana slaps her forehead. “We never asked Mrs Anya if that ring you enchanted for her worked.”

“Right, let’s contact Deminas later on, I’m also curious,” I nod.

“How can you be so calm about all this?” Liana shakes her head and squeezes my feather between her fingers.

“I just said I’m also curious,” I frown.

“He knew from the beginning it would work,” Gotrid shrugs and there’s a mischievous smile on his face. “Why are you still surprised by what our embodiment of magic does, Your Excellency?”

“Why indeed,” she rolls her eyes.

“Hey, we don’t know that until Mrs Anya confirms it,” I oppose.

“Ehm,” Julia coughs to clear her throat and to cut us off because we’re just bickering at this point. “It seems we need a Celestial scientist as neither me nor Noage can sense mana. We can examine His Majesty’s feather under a microscope but mana is still undetectable by current human technology.”

“I hope there will be more than one with thousands of new Celestials coming from America and potentially the rest of the world,” Liana says. “Ask Taranah for help in the meanwhile, he’s more than eager to explore our magical possibilities and he’s not busy with politics.”

Julia’s emotions flutter and she gets irritated when mentioning his name.

“Jul, is something the matter?” I ask.

She sighs. “I asked Taranah for help before but he was a prick about it.”

“What?!” I’m confused. “Why?”

“You really didn’t notice? Or did you subconsciously choose to ignore it?” Julia looks at me with pain in her eyes. “Your Majesty, not many Celestials treat humans as their equals. Taranah refused to work with me because he didn’t receive an order from you and voluntarily he wouldn’t spend more time with a human than he has to. Erik is a rare exception, Celestials accept him because they see he makes you happy.”

I stare at her and anger mixed with disappointment starts to build within me. Was I really that blind? For a telepath, I’m sometimes so slow. Or do I choose not to see things I don’t like about my own race as Julia indicated just now? She might be right. Dammit. How could I overlook something huge like this?

“Erik? How do you see it?” I’m almost afraid to ask.

“Ehm,” he bites his lip. “Your subjects are very courteous towards me so I wouldn’t know first-hand but I suspect they don’t treat other humans the same as me. I’m not saying they would ever refuse to rescue humans in case of another monster attack but I’m afraid they’re gradually starting to see humanity as inferior.”

“Li?” I turn to my Viceroy to make sure. “Do you see humans as inferior?”

“Well, strictly speaking in terms of skills, longevity and…,” she says and doesn’t have to finish that sentence.

“Unbelievable,” I shake my head at both the revelation and my total ignorance.

“That’s why we’re so glad you’re our Emperor,” Liana adds hastily. “We’re well aware of our tendencies, don’t you think we aren’t. Heck, if I have to be totally honest, we even have a tendency so see other Draconian races as inferior. Superiority complex and hubris is our main racial flaw after all. But we don’t have to succumb to our tragic flaw and are super lucky that we have such a kind Emperor.”

“Gotrid?” I look at my second partner, hoping his answer won’t break me. “Do you see Erik as…?”

“No,” he says firmly. “Not after you connected all three of us anyway. I see him the same way you see him, my love. But that only applies to Erik I’m afraid. I have nothing against humans in general, honestly, I do wish to protect the innocent, but I would be lying if I claimed that I see them as equal to us. Because they aren’t.”

I’m left speechless and find myself hugging Erik. I’m glad that at least he is treated fairly by my subjects but I’m still crushed about this unfortunate discovery. I want to see humans and Draconians cooperate, live in peace side by side and coexist. I don’t wish for Celestials to strive for the world dominance.

“Do you see it now? It’s not only about you being the embodiment of magic,” Liana speaks because I stay silent. “We also value your kindness. Humans might be afraid of you but even they realise that you’re the sole guarantor of fragile peace between our races.”

“So that’s resolved, let me work now,” Julia claps her hands because I don’t feel like replying anyway. “His Majesty’s thorough medical check-up after the conference is in order.”

I was dreading it but, fortunately, it’s not that horrible with Noage doing it. Since Erik weighted me already, I don’t have to undress and all Noage has to do is unroll my sleeve and connect his rooty tentacles to my forearm.

“Ehm… you have to let me in, Your Majesty,” Noage comments, surprised that he can’t connect to me.

“Oh, right! Sorry, I’m on guard since the conference,” I realise I put on a block subconsciously. I don’t block outer emotions anymore but I created a shield against intrusions.

“You can prevent an Earthborn from connecting to you? That’s new!” Julia takes a note and looks excited about it. “Her Excellency told me everything about your telepathy level-up but she omitted this detail.”

“I didn’t know,” Liana sighs that there’s more she had no idea about. But she knows that I just forgot to mention it.

“So?” Gotrid hurries Noage because the Earthborn doctor doesn’t open his eyes for several minutes.

“His Majesty is healthy but he’s being strained too often and doesn’t eat enough,” Noage concludes. “But I think you already know that. Why aren’t you doing something about it then? When did you finish work yesterday?”

“Ehm… half past nine,” Gotrid admits. “There was an emergency, another attack. I’m sure you heard.”

“We’re well aware that we’re straining him,” Erik starts massaging my neck. “But what can we do? Everybody’s working super hard, the situation didn’t calm down much ever since the Great Evolution started.”

“Her Excellency promised a regular day off once a week,” Gotrid says quickly in order not to anger the doctors.

“And can she actually unsure His Majesty will get it?” Julia raises her eyebrows and looks at Liana accusingly. “Actually, it was me who insisted you rest after your return to recover from jet lag. Yet, you ended up working anyway.”

“There was an emergency,” Liana repeats.

“Jul, Erik is right—everybody’s working super hard and that doesn’t exclude me only because I’m the Emperor,” I pull her sleeve.

“Everyone should get proper rest and nutrition but I’m so adamant about Your Majesty especially because you’re the Emperor AND a telepath,” Julia insists. “You’re making decisions that affect global politics which is something not to be taken lightly so your mind needs to be clear. Also, don’t get me started on how Celestials freak out every time something happens to you.”

“What do you propose then?” Liana folds her hands resignedly. “I want to give our Emperor more free time but most things can’t be resolved without him.”

“Be flexible about it then,” Julia suggests. “Don’t insist on one specific day of the week but release him whenever there’s opportunity. You should be dividing work between more Celestials anyway, His Majesty’s can’t be expected to do everything.”

“We’ve named most ministers already,” Liana assures her. “They’re on their way from various corners of the world. It takes longer because they’re relocating with their possessions, often bringing family and friends. We should have a fully functional government by the end of the month and transfer some of Aefener’s responsibilities to appointed officials.”

“Good, until then, try not to overwork His Majesty to collapsing,” Julia nods in agreement. “The same applies to you as well, Your Excellency.”

“I don’t have a demanding telepathic brain, I can work just fine,” she waves her hand.

“You still have a fragile Celestial body,” Julia reminds her impatiently. “You hired me to keep all of you healthy so don’t disregard my advice, please.”

“She’s headstrong, I like her,” Gotrid suddenly laughs, breaking the tense atmosphere. “A human berating the Emperor and the Viceroy at the same time, Dr Julia is just priceless.”

“She is,” Liana concedes. “Sorry, doctor, you’re right and I’ll do my best to follow your advice.”

Noage releases his rooty tentacles and looks at Julia with admiration. I feel from him that he enjoys working with her. That’s good, we desperately need more Draconians like him.


Taranah is staring at me, puzzled, when I ask him why he refused to cooperate with Julia. I called him to the Royal Office for explanation and scolding. He’s lowering his head but he doesn’t understand why I’m dissatisfied.

“It wasn’t a command from you, Your Majesty,” he says without a trace of doubt. He’s kneeling before me but he stays firm. “I apologise but I can’t read minds like you to catch on your imperial intentions. I wouldn’t dare to act without your consent.”

“And it didn’t seem to you like a good idea?” I sigh.

“It did but it was a human who suggested it,” he says.

“If you think it’s a good idea nonetheless, just present it to me,” I tell him. “Also, Julia is my good friend and I trust her. If I hear that Celestials are disregarding her just because she’s human, I won’t be pleased.”

“As you wish, Your Majesty,” Taranah bows again and I can feel he’s relieved I let him go without punishment.

When he’s gone, I turn to Erik for comfort. Celestials are gaining on confidence by each passing day but they’re also gaining on pride. They might answer to me unconditionally but it’s gradually showing they’ll be even harder to keep in line than Clawfangs.

“I hate this,” I whisper into Erik’s ear and hug him.

“I know but it’s good they have you,” he caresses my feathers. “I like Liana and she’s an excellent Viceroy but she’d be terrifying as the Empress. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

“When is she returning anyway?” I ask because Liana departed early in the morning to welcome the last batch of incoming American Celestials.

We’ve been even busier than we anticipated. Hundreds of Celestials are coming every day with each transport which means finding them accommodation and assigning first jobs. A lot of them will be sent on missions to other European countries to ward against monsters.

“Her Excellency should be back in an hour,” Luviael answers. “I got the information that the plane landed already.”

“I could meet them half-way?” I suggest but Luvi is shaking her head.

“You didn’t have a breather in days, the doctor is furious with us. Use that hour to relax.”

“She’s absolutely right, hon,” Erik pushes me out of the office. “Let’s use this opportunity to have a cup of coffee.”

I’m sorry that Gotrid can’t join us but I sent him to speak with Rien and the Clawfang representation on my behalf to save time. I just hope they aren’t giving him a hard time because I can feel him and he isn’t exactly thrilled about his task.

“Uff, my back is stiff,” I sigh when we find an empty lounge on this floor to occupy. I haven’t found time to go flying today yet. I’m afraid there might be days I simply won’t find time. Liana was lucky she went to the airport because I doubt she resorted to a car.

“Lie down, I’ll give you a massage,” Erik offers, lowering the sofa’s backrest so that I can spread my wings to the sides.

“Your hands are heaven,” I moan when he starts working on my poor back.

But it seems malevolent gods don’t want me to relax. Only ten minutes into the massage I suddenly feel it—a disturbance in space itself so large that it makes my feathers stand up. Another monster attack and this time in Prague, my home.