Chapter 69:

A Golden Cage

Draconia Offline

“Ryuu, please, at least one more piece,” Erik is trying to persuade me to have another slice of pizza. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have to force me to eat my favourite meal, but right now I’m not feeling like eating anything.

“Take it away,” Gotrid sighs and lets the maids clear the plate. The maids are frowning at my half-eaten pizza, but they don’t say anything.

“Seriously?!” I hear Julia behind the curtain ranting after inspecting the leftovers. “I allowed pizza to be served and His Majesty doesn’t even eat that?”

I clutch my hands and show a defiant expression. I ate what I could, I did my best despite lingering nausea.

“Don’t stress yourself, honey, I’ll deal with her,” Erik clicks his tongue, slips outside our canopy bed and takes the doctor to another room.

I’m left alone with Gotrid who smiles at me encouragingly and helps me lie down again. I had a good night’s sleep so I’m feeling much better today but I still don’t feel like eating or doing anything besides resting. The migraine finally wore off after hellishly long fifty-three hours and it was one of the worst I’ve ever had.

“Gotrid, my wings are sore,” I whine. I’m dying to go for a flying session to stretch my feathered limbs but I’m still too weak for that.

“Turn to your stomach, love, I’ll give you a massage,” Gotrid offers readily.

I bury my chin into the pillow and spread my wings to the sides. Gotrid starts working on my poor back and wing muscles, his own wings loosened and touching me because he knows I love that.

I close my eyes, trying to enjoy the massage to the fullest, but it’s quite difficult because shutting down one sensory input always sharpens my telepathy. Normally, I don’t mind. I’m used to it. However, right now, emotions in the skyscraper are too turbulent—Celestials are restless.

“Hon? Can Liana come in?” Erik asks when he returns from his chat with Julia.

“In twenty minutes,” Gotrid answers for me. “I’m giving our beloved a massage.”

“I see, no prob,” Erik shrugs and disappears again to relay the message and take care of other things in the meanwhile. It’s really handy to have two partners, I see the benefits literally every day.

Before the incident, I’d probably interrupt the massage and invite Liana right away but I just don’t feel like doing that now. When Gotrid finishes, he dresses me properly into a three-layered night robe and I’m ready to accept visitors.

“Aefener, you’re feeling better!” Liana is overjoyed to see me and I’m equally happy to see her. “Sorry that I didn’t show up earlier, but you were sleeping every time I stopped by and your Consorts didn’t let anyone in, anyway.”

“That’s okay, don’t worry,” I try to smile, but it comes out weak. “What’s the situation? Did I cause panic again?”

“That’s a mild word for it,” she sighs and sits on the corner of our bed. “I’ll say it bluntly because there’s no sugarcoating it. You being able to give blessings is a huge deal, much bigger than you probably think.”

“I hope that at least you realise it’s not a real blessing,” I roll my eyes. “It’s just telepathy combined with gifting a tiny portion of my mana.”

“I do,” she nods. “Still, that doesn’t make it any less impressive in the eyes of your subjects, Aefener. Can you show me how it feels?”

“Ehm… sure,” I say after a second of hesitation. Even in my weakened state, it’s nothing strenuous after all.

Liana stretches her hand to me which I gently grab and do the same I did with those Celestials in the cafeteria. I send out my love and mana. Her reaction isn’t as extreme as theirs because she’s used to my telepathy but her eyes still widen.

“Oh, okay,” she takes a deep breath. “You might not see it that way, Aefener, but it’s really amazing. I’d even dare to say divine. I’m afraid we’ll have to officially categorise it as the Emperor’s blessing and somehow limit how you’re going to distribute it in future so that there’s not a queue every time you step out of your apartment.”

“You can’t be serious!” I strongly disagree.

“This is my serious face if you haven’t noticed before,” she points to her nose. “Also, we have to ensure you won’t get mobbed like that ever again. The Royal Guards will be given much greater authority to exercise force, if necessary, and Celestials working here will be talked to thoroughly on what’s unacceptable behaviour towards the Emperor.”

“They acted like total fanatics, Li,” Erik hisses angrily. “You should discipline them more harshly.”

“The Celestial Emperor isn’t only a political role, Aefener is the embodiment of magic,” Liana reminds him patiently. “As such, Aefener is much closer to worship than normal healthy respect. I’m not excusing their behaviour, Erik. All I’m saying is that, sadly, this is part of our Celestial nature and we have to take it into account.”

“The Viceroy is right, Erik,” Gotrid seconds. “It’s up to us to create boundaries Celestials will have to abide by no matter what. At the same time, we can’t forbid Celestials from seeing their Emperor. It’s our instinct to flock to our embodiment of magic.”

“We’ll think of something, Aefener, don’t worry,” Liana says firmly. “A solution that isn’t too hard on you and will satisfy our people.”

I want to believe her, I really do, but I have a dark premonition that her solution will involve limiting my already limited freedom. I’m dressed in a silk robe, my huge bed has a canopy, and dozens of people are taking care of my well-being and protection. But what is a luxury good for when they keep me in a golden cage? A feeble comfort only.


I feel back at my full strength on the third day after the incident. The maids dress me in royal attire as usual and I have breakfast with my partners as usual. Luviael comes in to read aloud our itinerary for the day as usual. I try to act normal but I feel anxious inside. Liana was supposed to scold my subjects about the incident, did it work?

“It won’t happen again, Your Majesty,” the Guard Captain Vermiel assures me because he notices my unease when I enter the elevator. “Precautions have been made.”

“Will I be allowed my regular flying session in the afternoon?” I ask, worried.

“Of course, Your Majesty, why wouldn’t you?” Vermiel answers matter-of-factly.

“Why indeed,” I murmur under my breath, but I feel much better about my prospects now. Flying always helps to alleviate my mood.

“Don’t worry, love, it’ll be business as usual,” Gotrid clutches my hand and looks at me encouragingly. “Nobody will act weird, I promise.”

“Okay,” I nod and try to collect myself just in time before the doors open again.

The first task of the day on the agenda is a video call with our future ministers so we head to the media conference room. The Celestials I’m passing in the hall are seemingly behaving as always—they bow and greet me as any other day—but I can feel they are dying to touch my wings and receive my ‘blessing’ to get a taste of the magical divinity I presumably possess.

“Good morning, Your Majesty,” Taranah is waiting for me in the conference room. “The ministers are waiting just for you, we can start anytime.”

He’s trying to act nonchalant, even though he’s anything but that. It seems not even my close co-worker is unaffected by the discovery. I sit down by the window and I look longingly outside for a moment. I haven’t flown for three days and that is probably my mental limit.

“In the afternoon, my love,” Gotrid assures me and pets my wings to calm me down. “And Liana will join us for sure. She has some important dealings with the EU delegates until then.”

“Put the ministers through,” I force myself to face the screen.

Work is good. Work takes my mind off thinking too much. Taranah presents me with the final list of ministers and I’m supposed to get to know them before they arrive. They’ll be moving to Prague within a few days, coming from all parts of the world. The only minister that isn’t coming right away is Gavreel who’s preparing for my upcoming visit to Japan.

“That would be all, thank you for participating and we’re looking forward to meeting you in person soon,” Taranah concludes the call after two long hours.

I’m quite content with the ministers we chose. I was hoping for more diversity but, in the end, I can be glad that it won’t be only Celestials.

“What’s next?” I ask Luviael who rarely leaves my side when we’re at work because she’s my personal adjutant, meaning assistant. She’s the only Celestial not fussing over my new ability and I can’t love her more for that. Is it because she’s with me almost non-stop apart from our personal free time?

“Meeting Rien,” she informs me. “He’s finally ready to join our inner government.”

“Right, I should probably tell him about my telepathy, so that I don’t have to hide it in front of him,” I bite my lip.

“What? Absolutely not!” Luvi is horrified by that idea. “Rien isn’t a race ruler, nor a Celestial.”

“But…,” I oppose because I got used to not having to hide it all the time.

“She’s right,” Erik agrees. “The more people know, the harder is to keep it secret. The race rulers are trustworthy and Celestials are totally devoted to you but telling your secret to a random Clawfang is a huge risk.”

“Don’t worry, Your Majesty, Rien won’t be sitting in the Royal office that often,” Luviael says. “The Clawfang embassy occupies floors 16 and 17.”

I realise that I’ve never actually been there. When Emi was still here, she was always visiting me, not vice versa. What does the Clawfang embassy look like I wonder? Clawfangs aren’t generally keen on administrative work. Are there more Clawfangs like Rien who don’t mind office jobs?

“I’d like to visit the Clawfang embassy,” I tell Luviael. “Can you find a slot in my schedule this week?”

“No need, Your Majesty, Rien will be visiting you,” she shakes her head.

“Because I don’t have that extra time or because the Clawfang embassy isn’t deemed safe for me by your standards?” I ask and want an honest answer.

“Both,” she doesn’t dare to lie to me. I sigh, but, at least, I got my honest answer.

It happens when I’m leaving the conference room. Taranah offers to hold the door for me, but as I’m passing him, he uses the fact that the door frame is rather narrow for two Celestials, doesn’t step aside in time and our wings inevitably brush.

It was no accident, he planned for this to happen. Does it qualify as groping? Because I know Taranah quite well after months of working together, I intend to overlook it and just let it go. Even though, admittedly, I feel uncomfortable about it.

“So what do we…?” I turn to Luvi to ask about my follow-up agenda.

But I don’t get to finish that sentence. Before I can even grasp what’s going on, Erik is suddenly holding Taranah by his robe and pinning him to the wall. Taranah cries out in pain because Erik doesn’t bother to take into account that he’s constraining a Celestial.

“You…!” Gotrid isn’t as quick, but his rage is just as fierce.

“Did you think we wouldn’t notice, you pervert?!” Erik yells at him.

“I… I’m… not a p-pervert… I just… b-blessing…,” Taranah stutters and is trembling. Only now he’s starting to realise the gravity of what he has done.

“Vermiel, take him to the Viceroy for punishment,” Gotrid hisses.

“I… p-please, n-no!” Taranah starts crying hysterically because he can’t count on Liana being forgiving.

“Wait, it wasn’t such a big deal,” I try to defend him because I don’t like to see my subject crying. I don’t like it at all.

“Taranah to the Viceroy, our Emperor to Zetraya,” Erik sighs and lets go of Taranah only when two of the patrolling guards seize him and take him away.

“The psychologist? Why? I’m fine!” I don’t understand.

“Exactly because you’re claiming that you’re fine,” Erik looks at me with a pained expression.

“Hon, why wouldn’t you say anything?” Gotrid takes my hand and kisses it.

I look at Gotrid, then at Erik. I feel their love and concern. And I realise that I don’t feel anything for myself. I don’t allow myself to feel anything. All I see is the mountain of work I have to get through today and emotions would only get in the way and make me less efficient. I have to work for the benefit of my people, I have to…

A single tear is suddenly dropping from my right eye and pouring all the way down. I try to turn my head and quickly dry it into my sleeve, but everyone noticed, of course.

“Get Zetraya, now!” Erik orders Vermiel and I can feel everyone getting all panicky.

Another tear drops down my cheek and I don’t understand it at all. It wasn’t a big deal, nothing serious happened. Taranah just touched my wing with his, that’s all. It’s not like it was erotic. He just wanted… a blessing.

I want to say something, but Gotrid envelops me in his wings and slowly leads me back to our apartment. Before I can put myself together, I’m sitting on our sofa in the living room and I’m told that Zetraya will be here any minute. Gotrid keeps me enveloped in his feathers, knowing well that it calms me down.

“We totally underestimated it,” I hear Erik talking to Cien because my early return surprised the maids. “Celestials are still crazed about the newest discovery and Ryuu is obviously traumatised, but he’s suppressing it.”

I want to oppose that it’s not true. I can’t be traumatised by my own people, can I? Yet, I can’t find the strength to speak up. I’m snuggling to Gotrid, looking for comfort in his soft feathers.

“Good, you’re here!” Erik greets Zetraya and I hear the psychologist sitting in the armchair in front of me.

“Love, I’m opening up,” Gotrid warns me and slowly folds his wings.

Zetraya is analysing me with deep concern and tenderness. I notice he’s not wearing glasses and his skin looks less wrinkly somehow. When was the last time I had a sitting with him?

“You’re wearing contact lenses?” I blurt out because I don’t know how to start.

“I don’t need glasses anymore, Your Majesty,” he smiles at me softly. “My eyesight was gradually getting better and better and now it’s 20/20. By the way, the same happened to every Celestial who used to wear glasses as a human.”

“Oh, I didn’t know,” I mumble, embarrassed that this information eluded me.

“That’s only understandable, Your Majesty don’t have time to keep up with all scientific discoveries,” he says. “As you can see, the ageing process is also being slowly reversed thanks to my mana circuit. After all, Celestials are supposed to look no older than thirty.”

“Neat,” Gotrid smirks and is overjoyed about the finding.

So are the maids and the guards, only Erik panics in his mind. I don’t usually let myself think about it, but, naturally, it does bug me a lot that Erik is ageing while I’m not. I’m sure nothing about my love towards him will change but I don’t want him to die long before me.

“You’re not focusing on what’s the topic now, hon,” Gotrid says because he knows what I’m thinking about right now. Erik sits down to us and caresses my left wing, so he gets the gist as well.

“So,” Zetraya coughs to clear his throat. “Vermiel told me what happened.”

“It wasn’t that serious,” I say quickly. “Please, tell Liana not to be too harsh on Taranah. Some scolding will do.”

Zetraya raises his eyebrows and does an automatic gesture to adjust his glasses, only a second later realising that he doesn’t wear them anymore. Habit is a hard thing to break.

“I’m not here because of what Taranah did, Your Majesty, that’s the Viceroy’s responsibility to deal with,” Zetraya corrects me. “I’m here because of how you reacted to it. That’s the main problem here.”

“I… what?” I’m lost.

“You wouldn’t say anything,” Gotrid reminds me. “If we didn’t notice, you’d let it go. And that’s why we’re sitting here now with Zetraya.”

“You had every right to get angry and defend yourself. Or at least speak up,” Erik adds. “Why didn’t you smash him with telekinesis? We saw you do it when that Earthborn accidentally plucked your feather.”

“I… I couldn’t,” I lower my gaze and nervously crumple my robe.

“You’re too kind for your own good,” Erik sighs and kisses my hair.

“N-no,” I shake my head violently because he didn’t understand me. “I mean… I really can’t as in I’m mentally incapable of it. I tried to free myself when those Celestials mobbed me in the cafeteria but I couldn’t conjure anything. The idea of using force against my people is just unthinkable to me.”




Everyone is taken aback and needs a few moments to digest this new information.

“I guess it makes sense… kind of?” Gotrid is the first to break the silence. “The Emperor is supposed to be our race’s protector.”

“Good to know, changes nothing,” Erik insists. “If Ryuu can’t use magic against his own people, he still should have told us.”

“So His Majesty is defenceless when it comes to us?!” Vermiel asks to make sure, his voice tense. “Dammit, that changes everything, Royal Consort! I have to speak with Her Excellency immediately. Please, excuse me!”

Vermiel leaves in a hurry and Miruel takes his place. There’s recognition in her eyes. Now she knows why I couldn’t do anything. It wasn’t just because I had a panic attack.

“Back to the topic,” Zetraya says. “Your Majesty, why did you feel you couldn’t tell us?”

“I… ehm…,” I’m wavering. Why indeed?

“Did it maybe happen before?” Zetraya leans forward.

I want to say ‘no’, but that would be a blatant lie. I recall all those instances when someone groped me on the train and I couldn’t call for help. Who would even come to my rescue? Anyone would help a woman but I was an androgynous man. Sure, certain types of gay men were totally into me, but to normal people, I was a freak.

“Not good,” Gotrid grows pale when he catches a glimpse of my memories. “This is even worse than we thought, Erik.”

“I had my suspicions,” Erik replies darkly. “Ryuuto was repressing it all this time.”

“Repressed trauma,” Zetraya sighs deeply. “Thought so.”

“How could they?” Gotrid pulls me to his chest. “Our Emperor is so beautiful. How could anyone look at our beloved and think he’s a freak?”

“Humans are scared of what they don’t understand,” Zetraya comments. “Even before the Great Evolution, His Majesty looked human enough but, at the same time, not enough.”

“Hey, I’m not an alien,” I frown.

“But you weren’t quite human from the very beginning either,” Gotrid reminds me patiently. “Werden confirmed it, you didn’t change from the human basis the same way we did.”

“So you thought I’m an alien all this time?” I can’t believe my ears.

“Well, not an alien from outer space,” Erik tries to calm me down by petting my wings. “Something else. Something magical.”

“I think you’re so scared of hospitals because your mom conditioned you to never go there,” Gotrid remarks. “They would find out you’re not human immediately.”

“I must be at least half-human because my Mom was,” I say feebly.

“We know, hon, we know,” Erik kisses my hair again and continues petting my wings.

“A self-acceptance issue,” Zetraya summarises. “His Majesty felt out of place for so many years that he developed a burning wish to be normal.”

“Which doesn’t go exactly well with the whole Emperor business,” Erik nods. “But, Ryuu, you know we adore you no matter what. It’s all those peculiarities that make you unique.”

I blush and hide my face in Gotrid’s feathers. Yes, I know and that’s part of the reason why I feel so stupid. I feel stupid that I still didn’t come to terms with it despite everyone around me being so loving and understanding.

“These things take time, it’s been barely half a year since the Great Evolution,” Zetraya says. “His Majesty did a lot of self-development work already, especially after New York where he gained confidence. But he still isn’t quite there yet.”

“I never wished for you to be normal, Ryuu,” Erik tickles me under my feathers and makes me turn to him instead. “I never wished for our relationship to be normal either. Sure, they are some annoying things involved, but, overall, I’m more than happy.”

“You don’t feel trapped in a golden cage?” I whisper.

“This is a golden cage,” he doesn’t try to deny it. “But I don’t feel trapped. Oh, Ryuu, there are so many new exciting things to discover, why do you cling to the past?”

“A habit?” I shrug.

“His Majesty never got to do normal things the normal way, that’s why he longs for it,” Zetraya explains. “Also, and that’s a miracle for a Celestial, he doesn’t have any of our tragic pride. Moreover, he’s an introvert, so he doesn’t enjoy all the attention.”

“Not a very good combination for the Emperor,” I sigh.

Zetraya looks at me as if I’ve just said something incredibly stupid.

“Your Majesty!” he shakes his head in disbelief. “On the contrary! Can’t you see that it’s the best combination ever for the Celestial Emperor?”

“It is?” I widen my eyes, astonished. “How so?”

“Only someone like you can keep our negative racial tendencies in check,” he explains patiently. “We’re well aware of our vices, so we consider ourselves twice as lucky to have you leading us. It’s not only about you being the embodiment of magic; we adore you for who you are.”

“Oh,” I blush again and some of that anxiety I’ve been feeling dissolves.

“The fact that you can’t use magic against your own people just reflects your love for us,” Zetraya continues. “However, you shouldn’t be afraid to scold us for our own good. You already did that and it worked like a charm, remember? I wasn’t present, but I heard.”

“In that forest during the conference,” Gotrid reminds me. “You used telepathy to convey your annoyance with our behaviour. Feel free to do that again.”

“You need to learn how to express your feelings and wishes, honey,” Erik supports it wholeheartedly. “I think that if you just send them your disappointment and sadness, they’ll try to do better next time.”

I think about it for a long moment. Can I really? Won’t I be selfish by doing so? Can I allow myself to care about my emotional well-being for once?

“Of course, you can, silly,” my partners start to laugh.

“We want you to be happy, every Celestial wants you to be happy and protected,” Gotrid says.

“I’m protected way too much,” I huff.

“We realise that, Your Majesty,” it’s Miruel and not Zetraya who replies. “We know that we’re constraining you a lot and we’re really sorry because it makes you miserable and we hate to see our Emperor miserable. But we have to. You know we do.”

“I know,” I shiver. “I should start acting more like the Emperor I am.”

“Instead of mourning what you lost, how about you start actively celebrating what’s to discover, Your Majesty?” Zetraya suggests. “It pains us to see that our embodiment of magic is hesitant to use magic just because you don’t want to look too godly in our eyes. Which is totally futile anyway because we already see you as divine.”

“Eh… what?” I don’t quite understand again. Just how dense am I?

Cutely dense, Erik comments in his mind, amused.

“So it’s still mainly subconscious,” Zetraya pats his chin as someone who was used to having a beard but lost it after the transformation because Celestials don’t grow facial hair.

“For starters, how about showing your subjects what you think of their behaviour?” Gotrid gives me a hint.

I consider it for a moment and I think I can start with that. After all, I don’t want to feel anxious every time some Celestial comes too close. I need to clearly state my boundaries and I need to do it myself.

I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then I focus on reaching all Celestials in the skyscraper at the same time. I convey my annoyance and disappointment without any sugarcoating, but, in the end, I also add my love. I want Celestials to know that I love my race unconditionally.

“I think we get the message, hon,” Gotrid tickles my wing to make me stop. “Gosh, you made even me feel guilty for a second and I’m your lawful husband.”

“Sorry,” I open my eyes again. “It would be too difficult to exclude specific Celestials. I wasn’t too strict, was I?”

“Reasonably strict,” he assures me. “What do you think, Zetraya?”

“Perfect,” the psychologist is shaking a bit but looks content. “Celestials are desperate to get into your good graces, Your Majesty, so making them feel your disappointment should work like a charm.”

“Don’t be afraid to express your needs more often, okay, honey?” Erik implores me.

“Can I express my need right now?” I ask, eager to test that instantly.

“Go ahead,” Erik encourages me.

“I really really really want to fly right now, not in the afternoon,” I tell them my wish.

“Miruel? Can it be done?” Gotrid turns to the Guard Captain. “I know it’s not on the schedule right now, but the Emperor has sore wings and today’s agenda has been cancelled anyway.”

“If you give us twenty minutes, it can be done,” she nods and runs off to take care of the necessary preparations.

“Ask and you’ll be given,” Erik winks at me. “When will it finally get through your cute but thick head that you have all perks of the real Emperor? It’s nice to be modest, but you’re overdoing it.”

“I feel bad that you can’t come with me,” I bite my lip. “You’re locked up in the skyscraper, even more confined than I am.”

“Yes, it’s excruciating,” Erik burst out laughing. “I’ll be pitying myself while waiting for your return—when I sit on the balcony of our luxurious apartment, sipping organic coffee, eating cookies made by our own personal chef and thinking about what kind of brand suit and watch I’d like to buy next.”

I can’t help it and finally brighten up. That’s certainly an angle I’ve never considered before.

“Okay, point taken,” I give in. “You’re not suffering.”

“Not in the slightest,” he assures me.

“I see I’m not needed anymore,” Zetraya concludes. “Still, I’d like to see you more regularly, Your Majesty. There are still a few topics to cover and you’ve been avoiding me recently. The only person who came to me willingly was Lord Erik.”

“You did?!” I look at Erik in amazement. “I thought you didn’t want a Celestial psychologist.”

“I needed to work on my jealousy issue, didn’t I?” he points out, a bit uncomfortable that Zetraya mentioned it. “Besides, a human psychologist wouldn’t understand our complicated situation. I opened up to Zetraya eventually. It’s probably all thanks to him that I was able to accept Gotrid so readily.”

“Doc!” I’m deeply moved. “I didn’t know, thank you! If you want my blessing or whatever you mean to call it, I’ll gladly give it to you. I think Liana plans to make it an honorary reward anyway. Let’s test if that works. I’m so happy right now that I’m willing to give it a shot.”

“Well, I won’t be modest and say no out of politeness,” Zetraya grins. “I would be lying if I said that I don’t want your blessing, Majesty.”

I stand up and Zetraya quickly stands up as well. I stretch my right wing to him and when our feathers touch, it feels natural and pleasant because I want to do it, not because I’m forced into it. I smile and give him my blessing. I still don’t quite agree with calling it like that but so be it.

“Thank you, Your Majesty, it indeed is the highest honour,” his eyes get teary and he leaves in an exalted mood.

“Hon, let’s go change into our sporty robes,” Gotrid takes my hand and leads me to our walk-in closet. He’s as excited about the flight as I am.

When we appear on the balcony, I find Erik comfortably sitting in an armchair, sipping his favourite organic coffee and reading a book. I kiss him to say goodbye for a little while and also check up on his feelings. I’m happy to discover that he’s perfectly content.

I patiently wait for the guards to fly up and take a position before I’m allowed to stretch my wings. I fly around the skyscraper several times, trying to see it in a different light. It’s not a golden cage, it’s my home. My safe haven, not a prison. Erik is there, my beloved.

As the Celestial Emperor, there are a lot of things I can’t do anymore. But there are also a lot of things I can do, like making a difference in the world and learning more about my heritage and magic. That realisation fills me with hope and newfound joy. And I have an idea. It just comes to me out of the blue.

I take a deep breath of fresh air and try to consciously relax my body, letting go of lingering anxiety. I can do this. I might be constrained from the outside, but I don’t have to feel constrained inside. I don’t have to be afraid of expressing myself. I don’t have to keep my magic bottled in fear that my power makes me less approachable.

I let mana pour out of my wings and take another deep breath. Being the embodiment of magic makes me also the embodiment of our main racial element—the air. I turn to the air for support as I flap my wings mightily and shoot up like a rocket. My brain gets overrun with dopamine when I realise that I finally did it. I achieved my divine Emperor speed in real life.