Chapter 74:

On the Brink of War

Draconia Offline

“Oh, Ryuu, you’re finally awake!”

“My love!”

I barely manage to open my eyes and I’m being kissed all over. Not a bad way to wake up, if only I wasn’t feeling like I’ve just run a marathon. I’m not in pain, but I can hardly lift a finger. When my eyes focus, I realise that I’m in the infirmary. Erik and Gotrid are hugging me while Julia and Noage are looking at me with relieved expressions.

“Send for the Viceroy, His Majesty is awake,” Julia says to someone behind the hospital curtain.

“How long was I…?” I ask weakly.

“Five hours in a coma, twelve hours in regular sleep after that,” Gotrid recounts. “You scared us, honey.”

“I’m hungry,” I murmur because my stomach rumbles painfully.

“Can we move him to our apartment now?” Erik asks the doctors. “You said we can if he wakes up and feels okay.”

“One last check,” Noage insists and connects to my right arm. I notice that the skin on my forearm is sore in several places, he must have been connected to me all this time while feeding me. I’m glad that I wasn’t conscious during that.

“The shield!” I exclaim when everything comes back to me all of a sudden. “It’s not connected to me anymore, did it dissolve? What if we’re still in danger?!”

“Calm down, love, our research team came up with a solution of powering up the shield with quartz crystals,” Gotrid explains quickly.

“And it’s holding like that?” I still worry. We never tested crystals before in the real world.

“It is,” he assures me and pets my feathers to comfort me. “You wouldn’t wake up if it didn’t work. Okay, let’s go.”

“Hey, not fair, you carried him already,” Erik purses his lips at Gotrid who, surprisingly, backs off without complaints. I guess they don’t want to argue over nonsense in front of me.

I let Erik hold me under my thighs and wings and I grab him around his neck for better stability. I don’t like the feeling of being weakened like that (way too often in my opinion), but I think I did my best in this case and deserve some rest, so I don’t protest and just enjoy the ride.

“Don’t, not now,” Erik shakes his head because he feels I’m trying to browse his mind to learn what happened while I was unconscious. “When we’re in our apartment, okay?”

I don’t push it then, but I can’t block my empathy even if I wanted. I can tell from his overall emotional state that whatever happened isn’t good. I snuggle to him looking for comfort because all Draconians in the skyscraper are bewildered and it’s making me a bit nauseous. Emotions of others don’t hurt me nearly as much as before, but strong negative feelings coming from hundreds of people still have a toll on me.

“Don’t worry, Your Majesty, we vacated the halls,” Miruel assures me when we step out of the infirmary.

She acts collected, but her voice is cold and she’s barely suppressing her Celestial wrath. The same goes for all Celestials in the building—that attack must have really frightened them. Was it another monster? Something we have never encountered before? And why couldn’t the others feel it?

We get to our apartment and I’m looking forward to the calming cosiness of our home, but no such luck. The floor is full of Royal Guards and every single one of them is staring at me with fanatical admiration and anxious anticipation. It gets better when we reach our bedroom, but Miruel posted guards inside as well and my partners aren’t complaining about it for some reason.

“Aefener,” Liana is waiting for me and her expression is tired and gloomy.

I don’t understand. Sure, being attacked like that is a shock for everyone, but I prevented a catastrophe, right? My shield saved us and it’s still holding. We’re safe from monsters, at least for the time being. As for the future, we simply need to strengthen our defences.

Erik puts me down on the bed, wrapping me into a blanket while Gotrid creates a huge pile of pillows so that I can sit upright. Liana is watching it seemingly calmly, but she’s nervously chewing her lip and is feeling anything but that.

My partners insist that I have to eat first, the maids already have a full-course meal prepared for me under a lid and I’m forced to dig in. Their silence is making me anxious, but I don’t let it hold me from eating. I’m super hungry and feel that my mana is dangerously low, so I gobble everything.

“It wasn’t a monster attack, Aefener,” Liana starts extremely slowly when the maids take the tray away. I suddenly have an ominous feeling that they made me eat before Liana’s news because I wouldn’t be able to eat afterwards. I brace myself.

“What was it then?” I tilt my head, totally confused. “A meteorite?”

“That possibility didn’t even cross his mind, Viceroy,” Gotrid sighs and caresses my feathers. “He’s too kind for such ideas.”

“Suspected as much,” Liana also sighs and passes me a tablet. “Watch this, Aefener, there’s no sugarcoating it.”

I frown, take the tablet and hit play. It’s a recording from one of the media drones that are constantly hovering around our skyscraper. It shows me flying up, then creating the shield (which is magnificent to look at from the third-person perspective) and a huge explosion. Nothing I don’t know already.

But then the journalist announces that they’ll play the recording in slow motion and my heart skips a beat when I finally make out what that threat was. A missile. Not a monster, not a meteorite or some other supernatural entity. It was a human military bomb. Someone wanted to get rid of us and chose the most destructive method possible. If it wasn’t for my shield, we would be dead by now.

“Ryuu, are you okay?” Erik clutches my hand because I’m not saying anything for a few long moments, digesting the revelation.

I look at him, then at Gotrid and Liana—the people I love most in this world—and who wouldn’t be here if I didn’t cast the shield just in time. Then I feel the presence of all Draconians in the skyscraper, especially Celestials, and shudder at the thought of them gone.

I clutch Erik’s hand tighter and something deep inside of me breaks. Tears start falling down my cheeks and one part of me feels great sadness because I realise that we simply can’t continue playing friends with humans, even though a lot of them are understanding, respectful and supportive like Erik, Julia and the Czech Prime Minister with her wife.

At the same time, another part of me is experiencing pure Celestial wrath. If I wasn’t weakened and knew who is behind the attack, I do not doubt that I would take the Imperial Guard and go annihilate them. That mere idea would scare me before, but not anymore. I’m the Celestial Emperor and I would do anything to protect my people.

Erik shivers when he senses my Celestial wrath, but he doesn’t let go of my hand. I don’t hide my nature from him anymore and he accepts me as I am, in my full Celestialness. And I love him for it, I love him being human. Even though I feel burning hate towards the humans responsible for the attack, I would never start hating humanity as a whole and it’s all thanks to him.

“Any suspects?” I whisper and my voice is dark and cold.

“The usual,” Liana shrugs, “countries that openly oppose us and have the resources necessary for advanced long-distance attacks—mainly the US, Russia and China. We waited until you woke up because we know you wouldn’t want us jumping to conclusions.”

“Any chance the EU might be involved?” I ask grimly.

“There’s always a chance, but I don’t think it’s likely,” Liana shakes her head. “Bennett called us immediately and he was really scared. Also, European countries are more than cooperative and offered us full support and funds. And don’t forget that they accepted thousands of Draconian immigrants. They would dig their own grave.”

“I don’t think it was the EU either,” Gotrid supports her opinion. “The EU has great military power, but not within the EU territory itself. The EU army is designated to protect the borders and has almost no bases in intracontinental states, such as Bohemia. If they actually succeeded in assassinating us, they would never be able to suppress the revolt that would come afterwards.”

That argument finally convinces me and I relax a bit. Bennett might not be our fan, but European politicians in general usually wish to sustain the stability of all member states and swore to protect the rights of minorities. I really want the EU to be our ally in the upcoming dark times.

“Li, is it possible to hold a meeting of the Draconian government in our living room?” I ask her. “I can’t afford to do nothing until my mana recovers but, at the same time, I’m not strong enough for the conference room or the Royal Office.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem, the room is big enough,” Liana nods. “Are you sure you don’t need to rest properly, though? You’ve barely woken up from a coma.”

“This is the biggest crisis since the appearance of monsters that might transform into a global civil war, there’s no way I can take a day off,” I insist.

“You know protecting you and your well-being is the highest Celestial priority,” Liana argues. “We can’t risk overworking you during your recovery.”

“It won’t help my well-being if there’s a civil war that I could prevent,” I shake my head. “Also, we can’t afford to let the culprits know that casting the shield weakened me for several days or they might attack us again and differently. Li, you know I’m right.”

“You are,” she says resignedly, “but you’ll be napping between sessions and eating without protests,” she gives me a condition. “You’ll be deciding only the most pressing matters and leave the rest to us until you’re back at your full strength.”

“I promise,” I assure her. “Call that meeting, we have a lot to discuss.”


“Ryuu,” Erik caresses my face when I wake up from a short power nap before the meeting. I feel much better after eating and resting, so I manage to sit up by myself.

I study Erik’s face and give him a long kiss because, right now, what I need the most is to reassure myself that not all humans want Draconians eradicated. I need to convince myself that I didn’t start hating humanity in return. But it’s hard, much harder than I thought. I can’t just forget the fact that if I was even a few seconds late, we’d all be dead by now.

I heard from Gotrid that Deminas and Fefnir managed to get out in time, but their base was destroyed and now they’re in hiding. Emi is who knows where in South America and the fate of Twyla and Werden is still unknown. I have every reason to hate humans and the only thing holding me back is my empathic ability. And Erik.

“Ryuu,” Erik repeats my name and shudders because he knows what’s going through my head right now. He feels my Celestial wrath that I’m barely suppressing.

But Celestial wrath isn’t irrational anger, that’s a human misconception. Celestials are still able to think rationally while experiencing wrath and are perfectly capable of calculated decisions. It doesn’t cloud our judgment or mess with our focus. Celestial wrath is a burning desire to preserve our species at all costs and exercise our idea of justice. The only problem is that we stop feeling emphatic towards those who wronged us. We don’t feel remorse over killing our enemies.

I recall those terrorists who attacked the skyscraper a few months ago. I was devastated about killing them, but that was only because I was still not in harmony with my Celestialness and clung to humanity borrowed from Erik. When I think about that incident now, I don’t feel any remorse. I did what I had to. As I will do now.

Erik’s eyes widen when he senses my conclusion, but he doesn’t say anything and takes me into his arms to carry me into the living room. The meeting starts in twenty minutes and I want to make myself presentable as befits the Emperor. The maids dress me properly for a reception and I sit between Erik and Gotrid, supported by them and looking almost okay.

“I’d like to have a quick snack,” I tell the maids. “Something sweet, but healthy.”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” Ayala smiles broadly because I hardly ever ask for food myself and definitely not so soon after eating a full course.

But, for once, I feel genuinely hungry. My mana circuit is doing its best to replenish mana as fast as possible and I desperately need calories for that. Ayala brings me a bowl of cereal with yoghurt and fresh fruit which is exactly what I crave right now. I gobble it just in time for the meeting.

“The Ministers are here, Your Majesty,” Miruel announces and lets the officials in. The maids brought extra chairs, so everyone has a place to sit.

“Your Majesty, do you feel better?” the Celestial Ministers are worried-sick, but they calm down when they see me.

“Better,” I assure them. “I just used too much mana, that’s all.”

“We have some new information,” Liana starts right away. “The EU investigation revealed that the missile was fired from a military orbital satellite.”

“And the owner of that satellite is…?” I hold my breath in anticipation.

“That’s the problem,” Laurin takes over. “The satellite belongs to South Korea, but they vehemently claim that their systems were hacked a few minutes before the launch. South Korea is a country friendly towards us and we have no reason to think they are lying. Besides, they offered us full access to their logs to prove that.”

“You mean to tell me that military satellites carrying long-distance missiles are that easy to hack?” I frown sceptically.

“I assure you that they are not, my Emperor,” Laurin shakes his head. “Whoever did it, they had to have spies inside Korea’s military and enormous resources to carry it out.”

“And the countries possessing such resources are still the US, Russia and China,” I frown again because we’re not any closer to uncovering the culprit. “Any word from them?”

“Naturally, they’re denying responsibility,” Liana shrugs.

“I bet the culprit didn’t expect that we’d survive the attacks,” Gotrid hisses. “With all racial rulers gone, there would be a civil war for sure, but, without leaders and Draconians scattered, they would be able to kill the rest of us eventually.”

“Agreed, the culprit didn’t expect we would withstand the attack,” Liana nods. “Whoever it was, they must be scared shitless right now because it’s in Draconian nature to seek revenge.”

“And we will,” I decide. “I’m sorry if I was too amicable towards humans before, but I finally learnt my lesson. I won’t tolerate humans bullying us any longer.”

“Ryuu,” Erik twitches in his seat, suddenly scared.

“Draconians will never start an indiscriminate war towards all humans,” I take his hand and kiss it. “But we won’t have any mercy with those who want to hurt us, Erik.”

“How did you know, Your Majesty?” Forent speaks up out of his turn and is nervously crumpling his leafy clothes. “Your subjects might be too afraid to ask you directly, claiming that it must be part of your divinity, but I don’t buy that. How did you know the missile was coming?”

I take a deep breath. I knew someone would ask me about that sooner rather than later. I’m surprised Erik and Gotrid weren’t curious at all, but they were probably too focused on my recovery and didn’t want to stress me with questions.

“To be honest, I have no idea,” I say truthfully. “I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t know, Forent. I just suddenly felt we were in mortal danger. It must somehow relate to my telepathy, that’s all I can think of right now. I’m sorry, I want to be transparent with you, but I really don’t know.”

“You have nothing to apologise for, Your Majesty” Forent mumbles, embarrassed. “You saved us all and we’re eternally grateful. I didn’t mean to sound intrusive, I was just curious.”

It seems my answer satisfied everyone. As Forent was implying, it’s obvious that Celestial Ministers simply consider it to be part of my supposed divinity and our only Clawfang Minister Rien still didn’t come to terms with me being a telepath in the first place. Every time I give him my attention, he looks away all anxious that I’m reading him.

“What should we do, love?” Gotrid pets my feathers. “Until we know who did it, we don’t have a target.”

“For now, moving out of enemy countries won’t be a recommendation anymore,” I say. “Order all Draconians to get out unconditionally. If they have human families they want to take with them, that’s okay, of course. If they don’t have money for a ticket and accommodation, Draconian embassies will help them.”

“As you command, Your Majesty,” Laurin bows and is staring at me with devout respect.

“I’ll make an official announcement, send for a cameraman immediately,” I continue with the same resolve.

“What will you say to the world?” Liana gulps because my Celestial wrath is making the room cold.

“That we won’t hesitate to wage war against those who did it,” I say darkly. “We won’t just defeat the culprit, we’ll annihilate them.”


“I’m sorry for my boldness, Your Majesty, but are you planning to tell me anytime soon?” Danaheim says almost casually.

Julia took him with her for my regular medical check-up because he proved himself when I was unconscious and Noage too exhausted to continue feeding me through my veins. Julia decided it would be good if he became my third private doctor in case Noage is indisposed again.

“About what?” I ask because I wasn’t paying much attention to him. I let his Earthborn tentacles be stuck to my left arm while I’m using my right one to hold a tablet and read the news.

“I might not be good at expressing emotions visibly, but this is my curious face,” Danaheim points to his nose. “Or did you seriously think I wouldn’t look? That would be like taking a chocolate addict to a chocolate factory. I have the privilege to be taking care of the Celestial Emperor, there’s no way I’d resist the temptation.”

“Figures,” Gotrid comments with a long sigh.

“I’m so sorry, Your Majesty, we didn’t have any time to give him a proper briefing and we naively hoped he would just do what he was asked to do,” Julia apologises profoundly because she feels responsible.

“What did you find out?” I ask curiously. What would my brain look like to someone who can literally see my genetics, but doesn’t know about my special sensory ability?

“Your brain is only half Celestial, Your Majesty,” Danaheim says slowly, weighing every word. “The other half is… well, definitely not human, but I have no idea what exactly. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

I’m a telepath since birth, I send him my thought because he’s still stuck to my arm.

“Oh!” Danaheim’s eyes widen and he’s both shocked and amazed. Now, this is an emotion even someone as laid back, chill and phlegmatic as him just has to show on his face.

“How is such a thing possible?” he shakes his head violently and I can tell he’s looking at my brain again with his inner Earthborn sight.

“We don’t know, but we’re trying to find out,” Erik answers for me. “Julia will tell you the rest, are you done? I hope I don’t have to stress out that this information is strictly confidential.”

“Of course,” Danaheim mumbles, disappointed that he has to release his tentacles.

“Come, I’ll tell you everything we know so far and you’ll be cooperating with Noage and me on uncovering the truth about His Majesty’s origin,” Julia comforts him and takes still slightly dazed Danaheim away.

“It’s not a secret when so many people know,” Erik frowns.

“True, but Danaheim was unavoidable,” I shrug, not really bothered by it, and look at my vibrating phone. I expect Liana, but the name on the screen says…

“It’s Twyla?!” I’d jump if I had the strength to do that.

My hand is shaking with excitement when I pick up and the screen brightens, showing Twyla’s green face. Erik and Gotrid squeeze to me in the same joyful anticipation.

“We’re sooo sorry to worry all of you, Aefener,” the Earthborn Queen apologises without a greeting. “We survived the attacks only by becoming one with the Earth. Almost literally.”

“You did what?” I don’t understand at all.

“The Earth Camouflage, Aefener, we can do it even here,” Twyla explains. “The moment we heard about the attack on your skyscraper, I knew we don’t have enough time to evacuate everyone far enough, so we hid in the soil under our ranch. The ground was too hot for us to emerge immediately and we were afraid of another attack, so that’s why I’m calling you so late.”

“Did everyone survive?” I ask, fearing the answer.

“A few low levels died,” Twyla says with a heavy heart. “We helped to submerge everyone we could, but several low-level Earthborn were in different parts of the ranch and we didn’t reach them in time. Werden was badly injured while helping the last group of newcomers to dig into the soil and almost didn’t make it.”

I shiver—the first Draconian casualties murdered by humans. It seems war is inevitable.

“We saw your official announcement, Aefener,” Twyla says approvingly. “I want you to know that the Earthborn will back you up. My poor kind-hearted husband is burned so badly that I hardly recognise him and those who did it to him will pay.”

“What will you do for now?” I ask, worried about them.

“The local village offered us shelter, they are friendly humans,” Twyla says. “We’ll heal our wounded and start to prepare poisons and potions that could be useful in the upcoming war.”

“You talk as if there’s no stopping it, but there’s still hope,” Erik opposes.

“That would require a miracle, we will never forgive those who did it,” Twyla hisses, excuses herself and ends the phone call.

“Luvi, let Liana and our Ministers know that the Earthborn Queen and King are alive,” I say to my adjutant who became my legs since I’m still too weak to walk.

When Luvi leaves, I continue browsing the news. Ingri prepared for me a curated feed of several channels that nicely represents public opinion in various parts of the world. My official proclamation did wonders by scaring human governments shitless. Because we survived and the skyscraper is protected by the shield, we’re untouchable now and ready for a vendetta.

Of course, I’d still absolutely prefer to avoid open war, but I won’t tolerate humans mistreating us any longer. They had more than enough time to adjust and we’ve been more than cooperative from the very beginning.

“Ryuu,” Erik nudges me nervously. “You will try to prevent war, right?”

“If there’s a chance for that, I’ll take it,” I assure him. “But I won’t stay idle, Erik, I have to protect my people.”

“Love, look at this,” Gotrid shows me a live stream on his tablet. “Another monster attack, this time in India.”

I sigh. India is an allied country that supports us quite warmly, but we haven’t succeeded in establishing battle units there yet. I might feel bitter towards humans after the attacks, but I still don’t want to see innocent people suffer.

“Draconians were nearby,” Gotrid is relieved when the media drones show random Draconians arriving and fighting the monsters.

“I was afraid they wouldn’t help humans,” Erik is even more relieved.

“On the contrary, we’re demonstrating the difference,” I shake my head. “Allied countries will get our full protection, enemy countries soon won’t have any Draconian inhabitants that would help them.”

I’m happy to see that despite those Indian Draconians struggling with teamwork because they obviously don’t know each other, they defeat the monsters quite easily. They must have been doing some serious levelling-up during those past few weeks. I feel proud and hopeful.

“I would like to meditate for a few minutes,” I say when the monsters are defeated and local humans start expressing their gratitude which is heart-warming to see. This is how it should be.

“Of course, love,” Gotrid takes the tablets away while Erik positions cushions to hold me.

I give them both a kiss on their cheeks and then close my eyes. I tend to neglect meditation when work piles up, but I know it should be one of my priorities. It never crossed my mind before, but if there’s something my brief encounter with my father showed me, it’s that telepathy isn’t just an extra sense. It’s potentially a powerful weapon.

I didn’t talk about it with Liana or my partners and I was suppressing it myself for as long as I could, but I can’t shake off that buggering feeling anymore. I don’t know how to do it yet, but I might become able to attack people telepathically just as my father attacked me. Frankly, that idea scares me and I feel that I’m not prepared to confront it just yet.

Instead, I send my mind throughout the skyscraper to check up on the local inhabitants. As expected, the atmosphere is tense and there’re a lot of negative emotions, but everyone is doing their best to continue what is assigned to them and nobody is turning their frustration towards human employees who have nothing to do with the attacks.

And then I sense that Liana and the Ministers suddenly feel utter shock and confusion. Something serious must have happened just now.

Li, what is it? I send her my thought because she’s the only one there attuned enough for long-distance telepathy with me.

Coming over right away, tell your partners to take you into the living room, she answers in a haste and doesn’t say more because she’s too busy.

“Something happened,” I open my eyes. “Dress me up and take me to the living room.”

“Nothing else on the news, though,” Erik checks quickly while Gotrid helps me into an ornamented formal robe.

In a few moments, I’m sitting on the sofa between my partners again. I keep monitoring the overall mood on the governmental floor and whatever happened, it’s not good.

“Your Majesty,” Laurin, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, is the first one to arrive and he’s panting from the run. “Things had an unprecedented turn.”

“Did it escalate? Are we really at war now?” my heart skips a beat. Is this it?

“The United States claimed responsibility for the attacks,” Laurin is shaking, but he’s feeling less wrathful than I would have anticipated given the circumstances.

“Why am I not surprised?” Gotrid clutches his hands into fists and his anger is overflowing.

“They admitted it? Just like that?” Erik narrows his eyes in disbelief.

“Not just like that, Royal Consort,” Laurin shakes his head violently. “There’s been a coup.”

At the same moment, Liana storms in and she’s just as shocked and confused as everyone else. Her face is red from running and I’ve never seen her so bewildered before.

“Aefener,” she blurts out, catching her breath. “It’s seriously fucked up, the American government is in utter chaos.”

“What happened?” I demand an explanation.

“The US President is dead,” Liana says, still quite not believing it herself. “They say Delgado was assassinated by his own secret service.”