Chapter 80:

Japan Here We Come

Draconia Offline


I don’t want to wake up. I can’t believe it’s morning already because I still feel like sleeping for three more hours. We had so much work yesterday, so many things we had to finish no matter what before—

“Love, wake up!” Erik tickles me under my feathers because I ignored him completely the first time.

I unwillingly open my eyes, disoriented for a moment because I don’t recognise my surroundings and my back is a bit stiff.

“Didn’t you say that you’re too anxious to fall asleep during the flight?” Erik teases me. “Your ability to fall asleep anywhere and anytime never ceases to amaze us.”

“We’re landing in twenty minutes and the maids need some time to make you presentable,” Gotrid jokes and he caresses my ruffled bed hair.

“Landing…,” I yawn and in that very second my drowsiness finally wears off. “WE’RE HERE ALREADY?!”

I hurry to the window and look outside. We’re not above the sea anymore, Japan is stretching below us. I hardly remember my childhood in Japan, but that view still moves me somehow. My homeland.

“Your Majesty, we don’t have much time,” Ayala and Cien kidnap me for a makeover session because my current robe is crumpled from the long flight.

“How am I supposed to fly in it?” I protest because I see them holding brand-new ceremonial attire.

“Carefully,” Cien shrugs and starts to put on me layer after layer. In times like these, I’m really grateful that I don’t need to pee anymore.

“At least tie my hair,” I plead.

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but we won’t have any time to change you later,” Ayama says apologetically and braids my hair. “The Prime Minister will be waiting for you at the airport to officially welcome you and the biggest Japanese media agencies will be present as well. You have to look gorgeous.”

“Doesn’t he already?” Gotrid sends me an air kiss while Cien is helping him with dressing up as well.

I see Erik change his shirt and take out a new jacket, but he’s done quickly. If anything, human fashion is definitely more practical.

“I hope you slept well because we’re not hitting the bed anytime soon,” Liana appears in our cubicle, perfectly dressed already. “It’s only eleven in the morning here and we’re having lunch with the Prime Minister in an hour.”

“Ryuuto might be the only person on the plane who actually managed to take a nap,” Erik smirks. “Everyone else was too nervous to doze off even for a minute.”

“I’m nervous as well,” I set the record straight. “It’s just… my brain is always so overwhelmed that it happily takes every opportunity to shut down.”

“We know, hon, we’re just teasing you,” Erik winks at me and, because Ayala is done with me, she takes a moment to style Erik’s hair.

“So, it will go like this,” Liana starts explaining. “The Prime Minister will welcome us at the airport, but we shouldn’t spend too much time on it, it’s just necessary politeness. We’re meeting him properly at lunch. The Japanese Royal Guard will escort us to the estate while Erik rides with Ichikawa.”

“Time for some quality bonding,” Erik tries to joke, but I can tell he’s very nervous about it.

He might be used to politics by now, but he doesn’t know proper Japanese manners that well. He did want to spend some time and prepare in advance, but Liana decided it won’t be necessary. He’s the Royal Consort and thus represents Celestials. And Celestials bow to no one but their Emperor even if it’s just symbolic and out of politeness.

“You will do fine,” I kiss him. “Just remember that bonding means two very different things, especially in the Japanese context, so better not use that word with Ichikawa or he might misinterpret it.”

“Two different… oh!” Erik finally understands and blushes.

“Just be yourself, you’re natural at representing,” I kiss him again quickly before we’re forced to sit down. We’re landing.

I realise how tranquil it was up there in the sky when the telepathic pressure intensifies. I’m not feeling just the cabin crew and my subjects anymore because we’re low enough for me to feel the city. However, it’s not any different from Prague so I calm down.

Landing is smooth and soon we’re told that we can get off the plane. I become a bit shaky with anticipation, but Erik and Gotrid are standing by my side and Liana is here as well. And with all the guards we took with us and the Japanese Celestials joining them, there shouldn’t be anything to be afraid of. Hopefully, not even my father.

First, the guards get off, when we do. I take a deep breath of Japanese air and look below. There’s a huge crowd of Celestials waiting for us, the Japanese delegation with Prime Minister Ichikawa and countless soldiers, mostly trying to keep the journalists behind the barricades. I’m catching so many jarred emotions that I hope I won’t develop a migraine on my first day here.

“His Majesty is finally here!”

“Oh, his mana is overwhelming!”

“He’s so beautiful!”

The view is both mind-blowing and a bit scary. Japanese Celestials are as fanatical as their European and American counterparts, the media is just as intrusive and Japan is watching my arrival being streamed live. It would actually be funny if I tripped over my hellishly impractical robe.

There’s a protective shield all around the plane already—the Japanese Celestials sure didn’t lose any time or took any chances—and it looks like Minister Ichikawa has to fight for his right to greet me first because the Celestials behind him start pushing.

“Calm down, I’m meeting the Prime Minister first,” I say regally and because my voice can’t be heard in that commotion, I convey my words to Celestials telepathically.

They have yet to experience my telepathy, so it takes them aback unprepared. They freeze and I can tell that Prime Minister Ichikawa is deeply impressed. From his point of view, I barely let out one sentence not everybody could hear properly, but it disciplined my people completely.

“Your Majesty, on behalf of the Japanese people, I officially welcome you home,” the Prime Minister greets me solemnly.

It’s clever of him to use the word ‘home’ as if I’m their citizen and therefore somewhat bound to Japan. He wants to make it sound like it’s in my interest to keep Japan safe just because I was born here. It’s ironic considering my citizenship was rejected and I was deported to the EU. But I let it go for now. There will be time for making things clear between us later.

“Ichikawa-san,” I nod and use an appropriate suffix. I say a few more sentences in Japanese to demonstrate that I speak fluently, but then I switch back to English so that everybody can understand.

I study Ichikawa’s expression and intentions and I have to commend him for not averting his eyes. Not many people can withstand a Celestial gaze, our piercing golden eyes unnerve humans and mine especially. I sense that he will probably be a bit pushy with his agenda, but nothing malicious. Ichikawa seems to be an honest man who just wishes to protect his country. My second impression of him is the same as when I first met him at the New York conference which is always a good sign.

“I’m looking forward to our future cooperation, Your Majesty,” Ichikawa says politely and he really means it which is rare when it comes to politicians I’ve met so far.

“Likewise,” I say not less honestly.

“My Emperor, everything is prepared for your arrival,” Gavreel finally gets to me because he couldn’t exactly pull the Prime Minister aside while he was still standing right in front of me.

“Hi, Gavreel, nice to meet you in person,” I smile at our Japanese liaison officer.

“Majesty, I humbly ask…,” Gavreel bows deeply and doesn’t straighten up for some reason. It’s as if he’s waiting for something.

Oh, sorry about that, Aefener, Liana sends me her thoughts quickly. I…ehm… I promised them that the Royal Guard will get your blessing earlier than the others as part of their new privileges. I forgot to mention it.

I want to roll my eyes ostentatiously, but I can’t because the cameras are watching my every move. Besides, I don’t feel Liana is lying to me. She forgot about it because she had so many things on her plate.

I resist sighing and stretch my right wing to Gavreel. When our feathers touch, I give him my blessing. I don’t feel comfortable about giving it out in public, but the whole world knows about it anyway. Celestials are great at keeping secrets, but there were other races present when I discovered I can do something like this.

Gavreel’s expression changes in absolute bliss which makes other Celestials even crazier for their turn. They start to nervously flutter their wings and human delegates have to make more space for them. I touch all of them one by one and try hard to remember their faces. I often forget names, but never telepathic imprints.

Fanatical, Erik comments irritably in his thoughts because my current guards have to make sure that nobody touches me on their own and, gosh, they do want that. But, strangely, I don’t mind anymore. If it’s about my people, my Emperor nature can pretty much put up with anything. It might not be healthy but that’s how I feel about it now.

I know that Erik doesn’t like it. He thinks that they are constantly overworking me and won’t leave me alone even for a minute if he wasn’t by my side. And he’s right about that. I love him for stealing me away from them from time to time. He’s the sole reason I haven’t collapsed yet. But I have responsibilities as the Emperor and this is one of them.

I finally bless the last Celestial from my new reinforced Royal Guard and then look back at the Prime Minister. He’s been staring at me the whole time, his expression seemingly unreadable. I’m surprised to discover that he understands. Is it a cultural thing? Maybe giving out blessings isn’t weird in a culture with Buddhism and Shintoism as their main religions.

“Your Majesty, please follow us,” Gavreel is about to spread his wings, but I’m still holding Erik’s hand so he folds them back. “The Royal Consort will be protected by the Japanese government, you have nothing to fear, my Emperor.”

I know that, of course, but I’m still afraid to part with him. If my father wanted to hurt me, I have no doubt he would go after Erik.

“I’ll be okay, love,” Erik himself has to assure me. “Just look at my escort.”

He’s right, as always. Because he’s riding with Ichikawa, he will get all the protection the Japanese can muster. Moreover, I almost forgot that Noage is also riding with him. Noage and Erik are the only non-Celestials in our delegation because Julia insisted that we need a doctor with us. Considering how often I tend to faint, I didn’t dare to argue with her. I notice that Noage is getting off quite late and he looks on the verge of puking.

“Your Majesty, let me be personally responsible for your Consort’s safety,” Ichikawa says resolutely when he sees how hard it is for me to part with Erik.

“It’s only half an hour,” Erik kisses me and finally gets in the presidential limousine.

“Your Majesty, we’re ready,” Gavreel flies up and hovers in the air a few metres above us together with other Japanese Celestials who are performing a perfect tactic formation to prove that they aren’t any less capable than my current guards.

I’m not thrilled about the idea of flying in a full ceremonial robe but, with some telekinesis, it’s manageable. I fly up, my entourage merges with the Japanese escort and we depart. The flight is as intoxicating for me as any other time and I also have so many new things to look at, but every time I try to deviate from the course, the formation pushes me back.

“You will have time to explore tomorrow, Aefener,” Liana assures me. “For now, try to behave. Your new guards are nervous enough so don’t make it harder for them.”

Because I can’t play, I spend the time watching the city below us. It’s so different from Prague, yet the same in certain aspects. For instance, Osaka retained its traditional historical core just as Prague did. Are people below staring at us I wonder? What do they think when they see our flock? Are they intimated? Amazed? Hopeful that we will protect them? Do they welcome me or fear me?

The flight isn’t as long as I hoped it would be. Although we’re flying pretty slowly because most of us are wearing impractical clothes, we still reach our destination in just fifteen minutes. The mansion is hard to miss because it’s protected by a shield. It’s one of those old Japanese estates you see in historical movies. Our benefactors must be pretty rich to live in a place like this even though they claim otherwise.

We carefully land in the courtyard one by one, aware of the limited space. There are Celestials everywhere I look and every single one of them is bowing and ravenously bathing in my mana. I feel anxious for a moment, but I forbid myself to think about it. These are my people, there’s nothing to be anxious about.

“Your Majesty, let me introduce you to Sunako,” Gavreel says and calls a young girl, not older than thirteen, from the crowd. “It’s thanks to her and her family that we can have this lovely place for ourselves.”

I look at the girl gently, not wanting to startle her. She has dark hair with golden stripes and wings that resemble a falcon. She’s staring at me and bowing just as anyone else, but I can tell that her mind is playful and she loves flying with all her heart just as I do. I warm up to her instantly and I bet that we will do a lot of mischief together up in the sky.

“Hajimemashite, Sunako-chan,” I say in Japanese and give her my kindest smile. “Thank you for letting us use your house. Are your parents okay with it?”

“It was them who suggested it,” Sunako answers timidly, but her voice isn’t shaking. She’s a confident young lady. “They were so happy when I started to walk that they didn’t care I became a different species.”

“I’d love to meet them,” I smile again and touch her wing with mine. It feels right to give her my blessing. It feels good not to be forced into it for a change.

Sunako’s mind is young as is to be expected but, considering her age, her thinking is very mature. I see a lot of suffering when I glimpse her memories. Whatever her illness was before the transformation cured her, it was causing her constant pain. I can’t help myself and despite the Royal protocol, I hug her. At least she had her loving family taking care of her, but no child should go through such a harrowing experience. I hope Earthborn medicine will help all human children in near future.

I feel Sunako’s tears wetting my robe, but they are tears of joy. She loves being a Celestial and she’s relieved to see that her Emperor is kind and cares about others. For once, I don’t sense anyone getting jealous that I’m giving Sunako special attention. They know Sunako deserves it and we’re all grateful for her family’s hospitality.

“Your Majesty, Your Excellency, Royal Consort, this way, please,” Gavreel shows us the way.

We’re led through the spacious estate and because we walk slowly, I have time to admire the architecture. Sunako’s family must have been very rich in the past, but when I look more closely, I notice that some parts of the estate aren’t in such great shape and desperately need renovation.

It seems Gavreel wasn’t being humble in Sunako’s stead when he said that it’s more about keeping old traditions than being wealthy. But since the mansion was offered to become my official seat in Japan, I do not doubt that we’ll pour a lot of money into it and bring the estate back to its former glory.

“We redecorated the biggest room to serve as your throne room, Your Majesty,” Gavreel boasts and leads us to a spacious room with an elevated platform in the back and a seating area by the sides.

“Like straight out of some samurai movie,” Gotrid comments, astonished. “Are we okay with sitting on cushions instead of proper chairs, though?”

“It’s surprisingly comfortable for our Celestial spines so we decided to give it a chance, Royal Consort,” Gavreel explains.

The throne room looks impressive, but I’m not sure I like it. They are literally putting me on a pedestal while my beloved partners have to either keep standing or sit below me next to the throne. Still, it seems Gotrid doesn’t see anything wrong with it. On the contrary.

“Do you want to try the throne right away, love?” he nudges me, excited.

“Well, it’s not like His Majesty can sit anywhere else,” Gavreel laughs slightly.

“Where’s my seat?” Liana looks around, confused.

“On His Majesty’s right,” Gavreel points.

“Down with the others?” she purses her lips, a bit offended.

“You will still sit closest to His Majesty if we don’t count the Consorts, Your Excellency,” Gavreel says amicably. “Besides, this applies only to official receptions, seating in the Royal Office should be as you’re used to from the headquarters.”

“Come on, love, try it,” Gotrid takes my arm and pulls me onto the throne.

I sit down and it’s the weirdest feeling. It’s not that high up, the estate is hardly a palace, but with everyone sitting on the ground, I feel inappropriate. I want to stand up again, but the throne room is getting crowded with Celestials pouring in.

“The Prime Minister and Royal Consort Erik should arrive in ten minutes,” Gavreel reports, checking his phone. “Would you be so exceedingly kind to give a few more blessings before lunch, Your Majesty?”

It’s just a rhetorical question. A short blessing session before lunch is part of today’s itinerary and I agreed beforehand with it. Honestly, I’d rather go unpack and rest, but I know that I have duties to attend to. This is one of them whether I like it or not. Japanese Celestials make an orderly queue in front of the throne and they step forward one by one. I hope I can finish quickly because I’m getting super hungry.

When Erik finally arrives, I hurry to hug him. It’s a bit silly because we were separated for only half an hour, but I was still worried. Erik is happy to be reunited with me, but he frowns for some reason.

“The Emperor is hungry and you still let him give more blessings?” Erik gets furious because he feels what I feel right now.

The commotion calms down in a second and it’s dead quiet all of a sudden. It’s obvious Erik’s accusation shocked everyone. Gotrid and Liana, who were discussing something in the corner during the blessing session, stop whatever they were doing.

“Love, why didn’t you say anything?” Gotrid hastily returns to me. “We were waiting for Erik and the Prime Minister to arrive, but if you told us you’re that hungry, we wouldn’t.”

“Does he ever?” Erik sighs and I sense that he’s both sad and a bit irritated about it. He thinks that I should express my needs and wishes more often and he’s right. Still, even though I know I should, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not the type to complain or demand. I’d rather finish my task if that task involves my people than consider my well-being.

“I wanted to wait for you,” I take Erik’s hand, begging him not to make a scene in front of everybody, especially the Prime Minister who’s watching everything.

“We’re really sorry, Your Majesty, we were too eager,” Gavreel apologises profoundly and ends the blessing session immediately. “Lunch will be served in a few minutes.”

I have no idea how lunch is supposed to be served in a throne room, but Celestial attendants bring small tables and I’m given a cushion as well. It seems I’m allowed to sit in front of the throne for the meal.

“Couldn’t they prepare a normal dining room?” Erik complains when he sits down next to me. I hug him with my wing to comfort him because he feels out of his element.

I study the seating order which is apparently so important to the Japanese. I’m sitting in front of the throne, Erik to my right, and Gotrid to my left. Liana is to my right on the side followed by Luviael and my European and American entourage consisting of Soren, Taranah and others. The left side is taken by Japanese Celestials and Ichikawa’s entourage.

The attendants start bringing trays with dishes and I’m really glad that I can start eating right away without waiting for everybody to be served. It’s the others who can’t start before I do. I hungrily sip miso soup and it tastes heavenly. I was eating it regularly in Prague as well, but this is genuine miso soup prepared by a Japanese person using Japanese ingredients. No European restaurant can match that.

I see that Erik is not that thrilled about it, though. He’s quite fond of a few Thai and Chinese dishes and he loves sushi, but he was never a fan of traditional Asian cuisine. He’s European through and through. I predominantly eat European cuisine in Prague, but I guess some things like acquired tastes in childhood are impossible to lose.

You know, I never understood how you can eat plain rice like that, Erik comments in his thoughts when he sees me ravenously gobbling a bowl of rice.

Dunno, Japanese genes doing their work I guess, I say between gulps.

Well, we should be grateful that you’re eating without protests, he concludes, content in the end because I even ask for another helping.

“I heard that you’re considering making Japan your second headquarters, Your Majesty,” Ichikawa starts a conversation nonchalantly when we finish lunch and coffee is served.

“Where did you hear that speculation?” I frown. I’m sipping my latte slowly, afraid that if I finish it too quickly, they will take the table away and I will have to sit back on the throne.

Ichikawa twitches a bit. “I just want you to know that the Japanese government would support that wholeheartedly.”

“To be clear, I’m not here as the Draconian Emperor,” I say aloud so that everybody can hear me. “I’m here as the Celestial Emperor visiting his subjects. The Draconian government stays in Prague and that’s final.”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” Ichikawa is taken aback by my straightforwardness, but he recovers quickly. “You’re open to making Japan your residence, though?”

“I can promise only that I’m open to that proposition,” I nod and I’m not saying it to just the Prime Minister. Japanese Celestials need to hear it as well.

“That’s all we ask, Your Majesty,” Ichikawa tries to smile a little. It’s obvious he doesn’t do it often because it comes out cringy.

We keep talking, but we’re not going into details. It’s just a matter of getting to know each other today. Erik is great at small talk and Ichikawa gradually relaxes in his presence. In a room full of Celestials, he must see Erik as the only reference point. That’s Erik’s human power—he’s our precious bridge.

“What’s wrong?” I ask because I notice that Celestials are getting more and more restless over time.

“They don’t like you still sitting on the ground when you’re not eating anymore, Your Majesty,” Gavreel explains. “Also, they hope you will finish blessing those who didn’t get their turn yet.”

I masterfully hide my discomfort when I’m forced to return to the throne. Liana takes the Prime Minister to the Royal Office to discuss our tomorrow’s agenda and I’m left with my subjects. As much as I’m happy about getting to know them, giving out blessings is far from having a pleasant chat over a cup of coffee with new friends.

Still, I can’t bring myself to say no when I see how important it is to them. How happy they are that I touch them for a few moments of a brief telepathic connection. I don’t want to sit on the pedestal, but, at the same time, when I look at them, I do see them as my subjects I have to protect. No matter how tired I am, my love for them keeps me going.

I glance at Erik when I have a second to spare and catch him intently watching me with a concerned expression. He’s mad at Celestials for treating me like a god who doesn’t need to rest or have a private life. He might not have any special magical powers, but he took it as his mission to protect me from them. All this time I thought that I was protecting him while it was the other way around.

When he notices that I’m starting to get exhausted because the blessing session took much longer than was anticipated and then we had to attend a two-hour long welcoming ceremony, he stands up and insists we call it a day. Gotrid supports him and, fortunately, nobody dares to argue.

Celestials are sad to see me leave, but at least they understand that jet lag is a bitch. We don’t have any energy to explore our beautiful suite and we fall asleep as soon as we land in bed. Something tells me that this will be no holiday.