Chapter 82:


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“Isn’t it too tight, Your Majesty?” Ayala asks when she finishes tying my new battle armour.

I slowly turn around, stretch my arms as well as my wings and take a few steps around. It does weigh much more than a normal sporty robe for flying, but it’s still manageable and surprisingly comfortable. I shouldn’t have any issues wearing it for a few hours and it doesn’t look as menacing as the Dragonkin armour.

I step in front of a mirror and study my reflection. And I love what I see. This is me and I don’t care how alien I might look to humans. I won’t try to make myself more approachable any longer. This is the genuine me in my full Celestialness and there’s only one human whose opinion matters to me—Erik’s.

“How do I look, hon?” Gotrid appears from behind a screen where Cien has been tying his battle armour to surprise me. He also got one as a present, a variant with a silver lining whereas mine is golden.

“Magnificent,” I grin at him. “Hey, how come you look somewhat better in it than me?”

“I have more muscles,” he boasts, laughing. “You look godly, love, don’t worry.”

“No, take it off, I feel funny,” I suddenly hear Erik arguing with the maids in the adjacent room. “Why can’t I wear a suit? I bought a bunch of new ones.”

“It fits you really well, Royal Consort,” one of the Japanese maids is trying to persuade him. “I know that it’s just a gesture, but it would help to sway the general public if you showed you care about our culture.”

Ayala finishes braiding my hair and I hurry to curiously spy on Erik changing. I freeze, astonished. Erik is someone who was just born to wear suits so how come he looks so natural in a traditional formal men’s kimono as well? I have to try hard to suppress arousal. Erik catches my sudden burst of erotic excitement and turns to me.

“I look weird, don’t laugh,” he whines, embarrassed.

“You-look-gorgeous!” I pause every word and, in a second, I’m holding him and kissing feverishly.

“Okay, okay, I believe you,” he laughs. “But I still feel weird.”

“You know, it’s technically a three-piece you love so much,” I chuckle when I lean back. “It consists of a kimono, hakama and haori.”

“Hmm,” he clicks his tongue, not persuaded after all.

“Hey, how come I didn’t get a kiss?” Gotrid complains loudly. “Also, should I be sad that my Emperor didn’t get arous—”

“Quiet now,” I shut him up with a kiss.

“Messing around as usual?” Liana appears and she’s also wearing battle armour with the same colours as Gotrid’s.

“How many did they make?” I ask, tilting my head. “They must have cost a fortune.”

“Three unique pieces for us, the Imperial Guard is going to wear matching uniforms,” she explains. “Our entourage got them as well, the Japanese certainly don’t fail to impress.”

I quickly study her feelings, but I don’t catch any jealousy anymore. Liana is genuinely impressed, but she stopped seeing it as competition. What I do feel, however, is strange sadness coming from Erik.

“What’s wrong?” I take his hand, startled.

“Nothing evades you, does it?” he sighs. “I can’t share this with you. Usually, I don’t mind, but today… you will be exploring Japan from the sky.”

Erik is not the type to cry (besides, there’s been enough crying for the day because of me), but I can tell he feels down about it. He’s always been proud to be human, but, lately, I sense that he’s starting to feel left out on many occasions.

I kiss him again, but this isn’t something a kiss would solve. It’s just feeble consolation. But what can I do? Erik is the Celestial Emperor’s Consort, the whole world knows his face so he can’t just go out and be a normal tourist. I worry for his safety so he’s being guarded all the time and when I’m not with him, he feels lonely despite his numerous guards.

“Maybe we could think of a way you could fly with me?” I suggest, hoping we could make it work somehow. “A levitation platform perhaps?”

“I’m not afraid of heights, but that would definitely scare me to death,” Erik shakes his head. “Don’t worry about me, hon, I’m having tea with the Watanabes anyway.”

The Watanabes are our benefactors, the owners of this estate and Sunako’s parents. I’m supposed to meet them tomorrow, but Erik is having a pre-meeting today. Maybe he can make friends with them? Or at least enjoy the company of other humans? Still, he feels down and that worries me.

“What about we have a romantic evening today?” I suggest. “We could eat dinner in the garden, take a bath and cuddle.”

“That would be nice,” Erik brightens up.

“Your Majesty, we’re ready,” Vermiel comes inside to pick us up. He’s also wearing new battle armour, looking truly impressive. “We have an hour and a half for a flight and we’re meeting the Prime Minister at three.”

“See you later then,” Erik kisses me goodbye.

I’m relieved to see that the guards are cooperating well and chatting merrily with each other. Nobody makes any distinction between who’s Japanese and who came with me from Europe. I have to let my wishes be heard more often. Hopefully, next time it won’t involve tears.

I spread my wings and wave them with mightier force than usual. I was a bit afraid the armour would weigh me down and I do feel like I have to put more effort into flapping my wings, but nothing dramatic. It’s actually not that different from having to fly in full ceremonial attire.

I love you! I send Erik a quick telepathic confession before we’re too far away.

I know! he answers jokingly with a Star Wars catchphrase.

After that, I devote my full attention to the city below me. We have an hour and a half before our next diplomatic session, so we have to make the most out of it. Just like Prague, Osaka retained its traditional architecture, but it has a totally different vibe. This is no medieval Europe but an ancient Asian settlement.

The guards are casting shields all around us, so I don’t have to be afraid to descend a bit more down to get a better view. I’m admiring the architecture as much as I’m absorbing the overall atmosphere of the city and its inhabitants. I don’t even mind that people are gathering in crowds, staring and taking photos of our flock. Let them see us.

We cross the historical core several times before it’s time for our official programme. We head to Osaka Castle, the first place the Prime Minister wanted to show me as a sort of introduction to my Japanese cultural heritage.

That this will be no ordinary tourist visit becomes clear when the castle’s premises come into my view. The whole park is surrounded by a fence, countless police officers are guarding it, there are people all around, hoping to get a glimpse of us, and the ever-present media people.

We land on the central plaza right in front of the castle where the Japanese delegation is waiting for us. Erik is here already, still dressed in the kimono and so handsome. I hurry to him and take his hand. Japanese people generally aren’t fond of publicly showing affection, but I don’t care. I kiss Erik in front of the flashing cameras because I want the whole world to know that he’s the person I love.

I’m by no means an exhibitionist, but I love you doing that, Erik purrs. I was a bit down before, but I’m proud to be the Celestial Emperor’s Consort. Never doubt that, okay?

Okay, I answer and kiss Gotrid as well because I don’t want him to feel left out. Besides, I enjoy shoving our polyamorous relationships into the faces of bigoted people.

“Your Majesty,” Ichikawa coughs.

“Konnichiwa, Ichikawa-san,” I finally greet the Prime Minister. “I’ve read about the Osaka Castle before, but it’s even more magnificent than in the photos.”

“We’re honoured you think so, Your Majesty,” Ichikawa bows. “We prepared a guided tour just for you and your entourage.”

We’re escorted inside and an elderly Japanese man, who’s obviously nervous but otherwise overly enthusiastic, starts a tour. I soon forget that this is a diplomatic visit and that selected media companies are here to take photos and stream it live. I’m sucked into a fascinating history lecture about my homeland and become too busy studying beautiful artefacts all around me.

It turns out that our guide, Uchida-sensei, is a professor at a local university. He was picked by the Japanese government to deliver the best possible lecture to the Celestial Emperor. I’m not afraid to ask questions in Japanese which makes Uchida-sensei extremely happy and his fear disappears. In just a few minutes, we’re engaged in a lively conversation about Japanese history. Gavreel is kind enough to quietly translate everything to Erik, Gotrid and Liana.

“Japanese Emperors in the past were kept protected in the palace and ordinary people couldn’t meet them,” Uchida-sensei explains when I ask him about the position of ancient rulers of Japan. “Yes, I’m aware that Celestial society was based on Ancient Chinese and Japanese culture, so I consider myself lucky that I can speak to Your Imperial Majesty.”

“And I’m glad that I can hear your lecture, sensei,” I smile. “Can you tell me more about the Heian period? I read some articles about it but I’m no expert.”

“Oh yes,” Uchida-sensei nods and continues his lecture. It takes three hours to finish the tour, but, to me, it went by in a blink of an eye.

After that, the Prime Minister presents me with gifts the Japanese prepared as tokens of their goodwill. I’m given a beautiful tea set, a decorated fan, a wall scroll and a writing set with several quality brushes and handmade paper for writing kanji. I’m happy that I’m not the only one who is being given presents. Liana gets a tea set and a decorated fan as well, Gotrid receives an exquisite matcha tea set and Erik…

“I can’t wait to see you in this!” I grin because Erik received more kimonos, all of them evidently of the highest quality.

“Well,” he smiles hesitantly. It’s not exactly a suit he’s so used to, but I’ll force him to try them on at least once.

“If you’re interested in our history, Uchida-sensei could visit the Celestial mansion, Your Majesty,” Ichikawa offers amicably.

“Really? I don’t want to impose,” I bite my lip because I’m not sure the Prime Minister isn’t pushing the professor into something he doesn’t want to do. “I’m sure Uchida-sensei is busy with teaching at the university.”

“Your Majesty, it would be an honour,” Uchida-sensei blurts out and his genuine enthusiasm reveals that he doesn’t feel pushed into it at all.

“If that’s the case, I’ll gladly accept,” I nod. “I do need a few lectures about your history to catch up.”

“We would be glad if you thought about it as your history as well, Majesty,” Ichikawa says carefully because he’s on thin ice here.

But I don’t mind. I had a really good time and experienced part of my heritage in the best possible way. I might not have Japanese citizenship but I was born here. My roots are pulling me to Japan, I can’t deny that.

“I’m a Celestial now, but I’ll gladly learn about my heritage,” I say diplomatically, but it’s enough to make the Japanese delegates happy and hopeful.

“No, His Majesty isn’t giving any interviews,” I suddenly hear Liana raising her voice and getting irritated. I turn left and see her standing with several delegates and two media people who got permission to take photos up close.

I realise that I was never asked to do an interview ever since the Great Evolution started despite the media pursuing my every move. Did Liana send them away each time? Was there an embargo on interviews and I never noticed?

“Just ignore it, hon,” Gotrid shrugs. “They are bolder just because they naively think we would make an exception for the Japanese press.”

I take a moment to read the atmosphere. Always being the centre of attention is overwhelming, so I hardly have the capacity to notice everything that’s going on. I never realised it could be much worse. For once, I appreciate that the access to me is limited.

“Could we see the park as well?” Erik says to divert my attention.

“Of course,” Ichikawa allows us.

We go outside again and nothing has changed. There are still people desperately trying to take a photo of us even from a huge distance and the police guarding the premises. The guards put up the shield immediately but, fortunately, it doesn’t get in the view that horribly.

I try not to let it spoil my tour and admire the zen style surrounding us. Prague parks are beautiful as well, but this place has an entirely different vibe. I want to say ‘exotic,’ but this is supposed to be my culture. Nostalgic maybe then?

I almost feel like a proper tourist if it wasn’t for the Japanese delegation and their attempts to show everything in the best light and overexplain things. Nevertheless, I enjoy the tour. Even Liana is having a good time. I see her chatting with Soren and she’s as relaxed as she can get. I’m glad to see that she’s slowly warming up to him, considering they started as almost enemies.

Enemies to lovers, heh? Gotrid nudges me, grinning. What an overused trope.

I’ve never seen Liana romantically interested in anyone, Erik comments sceptically. She’s a pro at keeping her guard.

I smile to myself. I don’t want to spoil anything or jinx it too soon, but it seems my Viceroy is becoming quite fond of Soren. She’s vehemently claiming that Soren is getting on her nerves, but, lately, she’s mostly faking her annoyance.

“It’s so romantic here, yet we can’t do anything,” Erik complains, piercing the media people with his gaze.

“We will make up for it in the evening,” I wink at him and our tour reaches the end.

We get back to the castle’s entrance where the governmental cars are parked and the Prime Minister assures me again that Erik will be guaranteed the best possible protection. I do believe him, but I order two of my guards to ride with them nonetheless.

It happens when the presidential limousine is leaving the premises. Frankly, I was expecting it sooner rather than later, but it still takes me by surprise.


My father’s voice resonates in my head and I get goosebumps under my feathers. I almost forgot. This isn’t the only heritage I came here to explore.