Chapter 81:

Love Undivided

Draconia Offline

I slowly open my eyes and what I see is an unfamiliar ceiling made of wood. The curtains are closed around the bed, but the light breeze and brightness reveal that it’s morning and the maids opened the window already.

Erik and Gotrid are still sleeping. They usually wake up before me, but they were jet-lagged, unlike me who managed to take a nap on the plane. I decide to let them sleep a bit more and carefully slip from their grasp. I have to smile when I see that Erik hugged Gotrid’s wing instead of mine.

I open the curtain and I’m silently greeted by Cien and Ayala. They quickly put a light morning robe on me and I get warm slippers. I’m tempted to go on the porch to take a breath of fresh air which is leaking inside through a half-opened shoji screen and, surprisingly, I’m allowed to do so. Bright sunlight doesn’t hurt my Celestial eyes and I stretch to the sides, yawning.

It feels surreal—like I woke up in a different world. And it took just a few steps from my bed to be outside. I didn’t have to ask for lengthy permission and my mind isn’t overwhelmed from the very morning. It’s tranquil and the garden is beautifully minimalistic.

I smile to myself. It’s not true that Celestials hate greenery. We just don’t like the overgrown chaos that the Earthborn prefer with things that can make our wings dirty and bugs that sting. This is perfect, though. Neatly cut lawn, a few trees and bushes, a small pond, clean benches to sit on, decorative rocks and some gravel.

“Your Majesty, I hope you slept well,” a Celestial woman with short black hair I blessed yesterday at the airport greets me, bowing in front of me on one knee like some medieval knight.

“I did, thank, you,” I say and gesture that she can stand up. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Sareash, Your Majesty, your new Guard Captain,” she introduces herself and happily flutters her brown wings. “It was my duty to train the Japanese Royal Guard and now it’s my duty to ensure Your Majesty’s safety during your precious visit.”

She’s looking at me with anticipation, waiting.

“Please, continue to do so,” I nod and Sareash feels immensely relieved. It was Liana who was working on the Japanese Guard postings because I gave her that authority, but Sareash still feels at ease hearing it from my mouth directly.

“What’s the time?” I ask Cien.

“Half past six, Your Majesty,” the maid answers. “Would you like to have breakfast right away? The court reception starts at eight so we have a lot of time.”

“A bit later, I’ll wait for my Consorts,” I shake my head and turn to my new Captain. “Would it be okay for me to walk the garden a bit?”

“Of course, the whole estate is fiercely guarded and this inner courtyard is just for Your Majesty, the Consorts and the Viceroy,” Sareash says. “We hoped you would enjoy some greenery.”

“I definitely would,” I admit. It’s so different from my life in Prague. I could never visit the premises around the skyscraper. But here, there’s a lovely garden right next to my bedroom and I can go exploring without a lengthy permission process.

I walk around, feeling quite free. The courtyard is surrounded by the building complex from all sides and the whole state is protected by the shield so the guards aren’t nervous about letting me roam a bit. I could get used to that.

I sit on a bench next to the small pond and let my wings fall on the grass. I take a deep breath and try to enjoy the peaceful scenery. I’m thankful that my subjects are giving me some space for a moment.

I close my eyes and try to taste what Japan feels like. I mostly feel the Celestials in the mansion, but when I focus, I can catch the overall vibe of the city. It’s astonishing to fully realise that I’m nine thousand kilometres away from my home in a totally different culture—a culture that’s supposed to be mine as well. I do speak the language, but I’m a foreigner here. Will that change?

“Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” Erik says all of a sudden, standing on the porch with Gotrid. I was so lost in thoughts that I didn’t notice my partners woke up.

“What?” I open my eyes and laugh. “I’m wearing pyjamas.”

“Celestial Royal pyjamas,” Erik reminds me and I notice he’s pointing his phone at me.

“You didn’t!” I stand up, horrified, and hurry to him, trying to steal the phone from his hands.

“I did,” Erik smirks and stretches his hand up. He’s taller than me so I can’t reach it.

“I took another one just in case yours came out blurry,” Gotrid chuckles so I turn to him, frowning. “Enjoying a peaceful morning without us, love?”

“It was peaceful before you two showed up,” I purse my lips.

“What’s the commotion?” Liana opens one of the shoji screens that leads to her suite and she’s yawning. “This estate isn’t soundproof, you know. The walls are paper-thin, literally.”

“Hi, Li, sorry about that,” I greet her and give up the feeble attempt to steal my partners’ phones to delete that bed-hair photo.

“Your Majesty, would you like to have breakfast now?” Cien asks me again because we’re all awake.

“Yes, and I’d like to eat with my Viceroy,” I say.

“As you wish,” Cien bows and runs off to fulfil my request.

“Thanks for inviting me,” Liana appreciates and my heart aches a little. She says that as if I’m doing her a favour. As if it’s not just a normal breakfast with friends but an honour.

“I’m afraid mornings will be the only tranquil time we will have here so we’d better enjoy it,” Erik sighs. “We start at eight and our itinerary is full till the evening.”

“What about a short flight before they bring the food?” I suggest hopefully. It feels so easy to just fly up when I’m already outside. I look up and the sky is so tempting.

“Don’t you even think about it!” Erik catches my wrist, panicking.

Only now I notice that I spread my wings without intending to do so. It might seem like an insignificant body gesture, but I startled everybody, including Liana and my partners. My new Guard Captain Sareash is gasping for air, realising for the first time that if I really decided to fly, nothing in the world could stop me.

“I wouldn’t,” I fold my wings again. “It was just a reflex, geez.”

“There will be time for that in the afternoon,” Liana assures me. “Until then, don’t go repeating something like that, please. Japanese Celestials are nervous as it is because they are responsible for your safety.”

Gotrid nudges me back inside, Liana joins us and we wait for breakfast to be served. It gives me a few minutes to study the interior décor which I didn’t manage yesterday because we were too tired. I have to admire once again how traditional everything is. We’re sitting on the tatami flooring, the low table is antique and the wall scrolls as well.

“I don’t think my body is made for sitting on the ground all the time,” Erik complains.

“Take my cushion so that you can sit higher,” I throw my cushion at him and sit on my calves instead of my butt. I straighten my back and let my wings fall on the tatami floor. Oh, it’s so comfortable for my Celestial spine!

I get two kinds of reactions. The European and American Celestials don’t like the idea of their Emperor sitting on the floor while the Japanese are overjoyed that I’m adopting their culture so well. Their culture… or my culture?

“I’m okay, Cien, really,” I say when the maid quickly brings me another cushion, but she won’t take ‘no’ as an answer.

Breakfast is served and while I cheer when I see it, Erik has to try hard not to roll his eyes. This isn’t the typical continental breakfast he’s used to, we’re given traditional Japanese dishes again.

How can anyone eat fish for breakfast? he complains in his thoughts because he doesn’t want to offend the Japanese. Uch, and this egg omelette is sweet.

I’ll take it if you don’t want it! I stretch to him and he delivers the tamagoyaki into my mouth.

“Aefener, we have more than enough food,” Liana scolds me for bad table manners. “Also, no telepathy.”

I can’t stick my tongue at her because the Japanese Celestials are watching us and they are horrified as it is by our lack of formality. I shrug and start to gobble rice. Pure carbohydrates, lovely. Erik tries the fish and he admits that it’s delicious, the problem is that it’s weird for him to eat something like that for breakfast.

“I might actually gain some weight here,” I boast when I see all those plates and tiny bowls I’ve emptied. Gotrid and Erik look at each other with resigned expressions, but they feel a tiny bit hopeful.

After breakfast, Liana returns to her suite to get changed and so do we. Our luggage is mostly full of clothes which take up a lot of space. Erik goes to take a quick shower because, unlike us, he naturally sweats, but when he returns, I’m still not finished.

“Save me!” I beg dramatically.

“For real?” Erik allows himself to roll his eyes this time when he notices that my newest ceremonial attire has a long train of ornamented cloth I’m going to be dragging behind me probably all day.

“There will be no flying in this dress so we could finally bring it out,” Ayala explains proudly. “Isn’t it beautiful? A masterpiece!”

“Gotrid’s robe is ceremonial, but still okayish,” I comment venomously, looking at my second partner who’s done changing already.

“Lord Gotrid needs to look representative next to you, but he won’t get all the attention,” Ayala says. “Nobody will be evaluating his clothes.”

“Wait, who’s going to evaluate mine?” I freeze, confused.

“The Japanese,” Cien explains matter-of-factly, combing my hair, and her emotions flutter. “We expect they will present you with new attires of their own making as gifts. We can’t afford to look shabby.”

“Cien, we’re the same race, what’s that competition about?” I don’t like it one bit. It’s as if the Japanese Celestials want to show off that they are better subjects. But that’s just… absurd!

“No competition,” Cien hums, continuing to style my hair, but I can tell she’s lying.

“I won’t allow any rivalry,” I click my tongue. “This is not a race in which the winner gets my favour. I love all my subjects equally.”

“Your Japanese subjects desperately want to impress you, it’s natural,” Liana returns, dressed in a beautiful blue-silver dress.

Evaluate? Desperately impress? Competition? Natural? I realise that I don’t get it. I mean, I do understand the words separately, but I don’t feel like I truly understand the whole concept. My heart aches again with inexplicable sorrow and, for some reason, I suddenly feel deep sadness and irritation.

I try to keep those emotions contained inside me, but they pour out like a telepathic flood. I panic because there’s no stopping it. My mana circuit reacts and amplifies it even further. The telepathic shockwave then hits all Celestials in the mansion and vicinity at the same time.


Both Gotrid and Erik hurry to me, startled. I’m as confused as they are when my eyes get wet.

“Aefener, you’re… crying?” Liana opens her mouth, astonished. “What’s wrong?!”

“I… I don’t know,” I try to dry my eyes into the sleeve of my new robe, but they keep coming because my heart keeps aching. “I just feel so sad to see my people compete with each other for my attention.”

I can’t properly explain it, but that deep sadness seems to be coming from my Emperor’s nature itself. I can put up with pretty much anything, even my non-existent freedom and lack of privacy, but this one thing I can’t bear to see.

“Tell Gavreel we will be late for the morning reception,” Liana quickly tells Ayala and tries to keep calm despite everyone being on the verge of panic.

I want to assure them that I’m fine, but tears keep pouring down my cheeks and I can’t stop my mind from touching the Celestials in the mansion. I feel that the Japanese are confident about their gift, hoping to win me over. I sense fear from my Prague entourage that I might choose Japan in the end. And I hate it.

“Sit down, hon,” Gotrid and Erik lead me back to the bedroom.

I hug them and find refuge in their loving minds. It’s been a long time since they competed against one another. Ever since they fully understood how I hate it and that I really love them equally, they simply stopped. They still tease each other, but it’s friendly and often downright funny. Therefore, they know what I’m going through right now and why it hurts me so much.

“I don’t understand, what’s wrong, Aefener?” Liana sits next to us and gently caresses my feathers. “Please, talk to me.”

“This is the one thing I can’t tolerate, Li,” I say between silent sobs. “I can’t bear to see my people divided. I can’t choose between Europe and Japan, I just can’t. I won’t be swayed by gifts, bows and pompous gestures. I love all Celestials equally and nothing will change about that.”

Liana is staring at me for several long seconds, biting her lip and thinking frantically. Then she performs an exemplary facepalm.

“We were so stupid!!!” she berates herself.

“I suggest you go explain the situation to the Japanese while we calm down our beloved,” Erik says, grinding his teeth.

“Don’t worry, Aefener, I’ll make it right,” Liana tries to smile at me encouragingly, stands up and hurries to the throne room.

“We heard you loud and clear, love, you can stop crying now,” Gotrid dries my tears with a tissue. “I don’t think there’s a Celestial who wouldn’t feel your emotional state just now. You have a way of giving us a hard lesson.”

“It wasn’t a very regal message. Some Emperor I am for breaking down like that,” I try to stop, but I sob a few more times.

“You’re the Celestial Emperor, one of a kind, stop comparing yourself,” Erik tickles me under my feathers. “You getting sad will give them a much stronger message than you getting wrathful. Your kindness isn’t a weakness, Ryuu, it’s your strength. Only someone like you can manage a race of powerful angels with a superiority complex.”

“With a ruthless Emperor, it’s possible Draconians would be at war with humankind already,” Gotrid seconds. “We’re extremely lucky that we have you. I think even humans must have realised it.”

That finally calms me down and I stop crying for good. Maybe tears are beneficial in certain situations. I don’t think explaining the situation to my subjects rationally would get it across. If it tortures them to see their Emperor so saddened, hopefully, it will make them do some changes.

“Still, I’d rather face my subjects and talk about what I don’t like openly,” I sigh, disappointed with myself.

“Nevertheless, it’s a big step forward that you didn’t keep it suppressed this time,” Erik praises me. “Don’t feel embarrassed, you cried because you love your people so much and that’s admirable.”

I’m a bit uncertain about appearing in front of my subjects when every Celestial in the mansion must have felt my momentary breakdown, but my partners assure me it’s going to be fine. I wash my face, Ayala fixes my hair and we’re good to go.

“We’re forty minutes late,” I worry.

“So what,” Gotrid shrugs. “You’re the Emperor, love, when will you finally understand that it doesn’t mean only a mountain of responsibilities, but also a ton of privileges? Nobody will even blink if you come late.”

That leaves me wondering for a moment. I’ve always thought Liana is the workaholic among us, yet I gradually slipped into the same mode without noticing. I love my free time, but I’m not able to procrastinate anymore and I work long hours and think it’s normal. At some point, I stopped considering my well-being and devoted everything to my people.

I guess it happened around the time when I finally fully accepted that I’m the Celestial Emperor. I was in denial for months and then I realised that it’s not just a temporary role, but a part of who I am as much as what I am. And now I’m not able to make any distinction.

“Of course, my love,” Gotrid catches what’s going through my head and chuckles. “You’re the embodiment of magic. You’re divine.”

I poke him, embarrassed. I won’t deny being the embodiment of magic anymore, but that doesn’t mean I will be conceited about it. I will never feel comfortable on a pedestal. Never. Being the embodiment of magic is WHAT I am but my kindness and modesty are part of WHO I am.

Still, a pedestal is waiting for me when we finally arrive at the throne room. Everybody gets absolutely quiet when I appear and stays in a deep bow until I cross the room and sit on the throne. Gotrid quickly helps me with my robe’s long train of cloth and goes to sit on a cushion next to the throne with Erik. I nod at everyone so that they can sit down as well and spend a few moments analysing the atmosphere.

I don’t feel any rivalrous tension anymore, only anxiety and even guilt—they feel mortified about their actions. They made their Emperor cry which isn’t something to take lightly or forget easily. It’s obvious they would rather face my wrath than tears. Wrath is me disciplining them while tears mean that their Emperor is desperate.

I see Sareash sitting behind Gavreel in the second row, whispering to him. When did she disappear from my side? I didn’t notice for all that crying. Did she run to him to report what she witnessed first-hand? Their wings are shaking with distress.

Liana moves from her seat into the middle of the room, right in front of me. I hate to see her kneeling. I clutch the handles of my throne to calm down. I can tell she switched her mindset just now. It’s not my friend bowing in front of me, it’s my Viceroy.

“Your Majesty, we beg your forgiveness,” she starts. “It was stupid of us to compete for your love.”

“Do you understand why?” I ask simply. I have to make it clear once and for all.

“Because you have enough love for all of us,” Liana says with a hint of a smile. “Gavreel?” she calls for our Japanese liaison officer.

Gavreel stands up only to kneel next to her.

“Whether you will decide to make Japan your second residence or not, we understand now that it has nothing to do with your love towards Japanese Celestials,” Gavreel states firmly.

I study everyone’s feelings, hoping that they aren’t saying it just to make me happy for the moment. I’m immensely relieved to discover that my outburst of sadness really opened their eyes. They realised how silly their attempts to win me over were because there was never anything to compete about—my love for my people is undivided.

“We have a gift for you, my Emperor,” Gavreel says solemnly. “Please, don’t think that we’re trying to buy your favour. We simply wish to give you something beautiful as a token of appreciation for all those things you’re doing for us.”

“Present your gift then,” I allow because I feel that their new intentions are genuine. I can accept gifts if there are no strings attached.

I’m a bit afraid that they will give me something impractical and I will have to play polite enthusiasm, but what they bring amazes me. My jaw drops and I have to stand up and go touch it right away. I’m looking at the exact replica of my ingame Emperor armour!

“This… isn’t a cosplay, right?” I ask and hope I don’t sound stupid. The armour is black with gold lining and a white robe underneath. Metal parts are firm when I inspect them. Naturally, Celestials aren’t strong enough to wear full-metal armour like the Dragonkin, so it’s still mainly cloth, but certain strategic parts are reinforced.

“It’s made of heligorr chitin, Your Majesty,” Gavreel explains, grinning and overjoyed that they managed to pleasantly surprise me.

“It’s gorgeous,” I let out, caressing the armour. They replicated it to the last detail including the shoes. Sure, I still can’t afford to get a direct hit from enemies, but it should be able to withstand some heat of a battle.

“Of course, we won’t let you get hurt in the first place, Your Majesty,” Gavreel adds quickly. “We just thought it would look great on you and add another layer of protection.”

“I want to try it on immediately,” I blurt out impatiently.

“In the afternoon, Your Majesty,” Liana smiles. “When it’s time for your flight, is that okay?”

“Okay,” I nod, mesmerised by the gift.

“We can’t wait to see you wearing it, love,” Gotrid takes my hand and leads me back onto the throne.

The morning reception continues and it’s much more relaxed than yesterday. Any traces of rivalry between my entourage and Japanese Celestials disappeared and the mood became elevated when the reason for the initial tension dissolved completely. I feel at ease. There’s a ton of work waiting for me, but I have no doubt we can get through anything if we stand united.