Chapter 84:


Draconia Offline

The chains are tightening their grip around my wings and I can’t break free. My Celestial instincts shout alarm and I start panicking. Because I don’t feel the gravitation pull anymore, I try to stand up and position my wings to somehow slip out. However, the moment I do so, heavy shackles appear on my back around my wings, squeezing me even more painfully. I collapse back on the ground.

I don’t feel temperature and my lungs don’t need air here. Yet, the pain is as real as it gets and I feel my wings as I would feel them in the real world. I feel every single feather and I dread my wing bones getting crushed. My brain refuses to believe that this is just a dream.

“Your inner mental image is strong,” my father says calmly, undisturbed by my sufferings. “You think of yourself as a Celestial, therefore you look Celestial even in your dream and rely primarily on your wings. You have to shift that paradigm. Unthink.”

Unthink that I’m a Celestial? That very idea is strangely alien to me and I used to like pretending that I’m someone else when immersing in fictional gaming worlds before. Not anymore. Ever since I transformed, I never wished to be anything else than I am now.

“Difficult, I know,” he shrugs. “Especially for a Draconian. You’re supposed to be proud of who you are after all. We made sure of that.”

“Made sure?” I try to hold my head straight at least, bravely facing him.

“We couldn’t have had people dissatisfied with the race they turned into, could we?” he explains. “Those personality tests all players had to undergo to make their avatar weren’t just for fun. Our best psychologists were working on them and, later in the game, we were carefully instilling much-needed racial awareness and the sense of pride.”

I twitch and the chains squeeze my wings tighter, but when I’m still, the shackles don’t react. That gives me a second to (metaphorically in this case) catch my breath and try channelling my mana. I do feel my mana circuit reacting, but nothing happens. A transfiguration symbol doesn’t appear.

“You feel your body’s mana in the real world, but that isn’t transferable here,” my father says when he notices what I’m trying to do. “Forget that you’re a Celestial and use your inborn powers. This is just a mental construct, so use your brain.”

I try to push him telepathically with all my might, but he doesn’t even waver. It’s as if he isn’t here at all.

“This is just as I want you to see me,” he sighs, disappointed by my attempt. “But I can appear anywhere.”

Suddenly, his body multiplies and surrounds me. There are dozens of him.

“This is your dream, not mine, yet I rule over it,” he says, his voice echoing as it comes out from each projected body. “Seize control or you will never get rid of those chains.”

But how? I’ve never manipulated dreams before because I had no idea that I can. Sure, I’m able to peek when my partners are sleeping and I can even stimulate them to deepen their sleep and make it more pleasant and restful, but that’s about it.

“Pathetic… pathetic… pathetic…, my father’s voice echoes. “Are you really my son?”

“I’m starting to hope that I’m not!” I retort.

“Disappointingly, you are,” he clicks his tongue and his multiple projections merge back into one. “I’ve confirmed it.”

“So it was you who stole my feather!” I accuse him.

“Of course, I needed to be sure,” he shrugs. “Back then, I couldn’t know that you’re a telepath, but it was publicly known who your mother was and your age overlaps with the time we were still together so I decided to investigate just in case. Honestly, I was convinced that she found another lover and had you.”

“Because she would never want to have a child with such a sicko?” I want to spit on him, but I don’t have any saliva.

“Because our genes aren’t compatible,” he rolls his eyes ostentatiously. “Yet, here you are, a hybrid that shouldn’t exist in the first place. Under normal circumstances, you would be considered an abomination.”

“I can’t imagine normal circumstances, you’re an alien or something,” I frown, trying to hold still so that I can focus on the conversation. I need to get some information out of him.

“Or something,” he repeats after me mockingly. “Do you want to know what am I? What you are? Get out of these chains.”

The grip tightens again even though I’m perfectly still. He was manipulating the chains the whole time, giving me the illusion that there was some pattern. I cry because the pain becomes excruciating. He certainly knows how to torture a Celestial.

“The wings are both your asset and your weakness,” he leans down and grabs my feathers. “Even a slight injury and you’re immobilised. Harness your telepathic power instead. Nobody can take that away from you.”

I realise that I finally feel something from him. His touch, however unpleasant, creates a tangible connection between us. I muster my remaining strength, put all my frustration into it and mirror it at him. It’s obvious that he wasn’t expecting me to succeed because there’s an astonished expression on his face. He staggers, lets go of my feathers and the chains around my wings get loose.

“An empathic attack,” he raises his eyebrows. “Exploiting direct touch, you used emotions to hit me?”

I quickly shake off the chains and anxiously flutter my freed wings to the sides. Forgetting that there’s no actual air, I wave them mightily and actually manage to float. I expect him to get angry and try another of his mind games, but he just laughs.

“See? You can fly even though there’s no air to hold you,” he says, content. “You can fly because you strongly believe you can. Your mind is convinced that there’s no way you wouldn’t be able to take off when you flap your wings.”

I don’t know if he’s giving me a hint since I can’t imagine someone like him being careless, but I don’t care. I’ll take every opportunity I can get.

“Then I believe that I can do magic here,” I hiss and materialise twelve transfiguration symbols at the same time.

I hit him with my full arsenal of spells, but it just goes through him as if he’s a hologram.

“Impressive,” he transports behind me.

I quickly turn around and find him hovering in the air. I didn’t seriously think that my attack would be enough to expel him from my dream, but I’m disappointed that there’s not a scratch on him. Despite everything, he doesn’t look concerned. He doesn’t look like someone who’s about to lose.

“However,” he shakes his head, “using magic wasn’t in the assignment. Magic won’t help you when…,” he stops himself.

“When what?” I narrow my eyes. “I got out of your stupid chains, answer my questions now.”

“I’m a man of my promises,” he smiles, but there’s no warmth in it. “Ask away then, but think carefully. I’ll answer only one question a day.”

“A day?” I widen my eyes, terrified by what it implies.

“Your mind is hopelessly unguarded, you lack even the most basic telepathic training,” he states, crossing his arms. “From now on, I’ll be training you every night until you’re able to expel me from your dreams.”

“And then what?” I frown.

“Then I’ll have no other way than to finally meet you in person and we continue your training in the real world,” he reveals. “By the way, I suppose that counts as a question. Our session is therefore concluded. See you tomorrow, my son.”

Our surroundings are starting to get blurry and I feel like my body is waking up.

“W-wait! What do I…!” I shout, but I’m losing control over my dreamy body.

“Just a piece of advice,” he says, his body already transparent. “I suggest you don’t say anything to your subjects just yet. I see how they behave towards their precious Emperor, protecting you but also limiting severely. We don’t want to freak them out, do we? Think about what you would like to know next time we meet and I’ll answer you honestly after you finish another assignment.”

Everything dissolves and I’m disoriented for a few moments before my eyes open and I’m staring at the ceiling of our Japanese suite. Gotrid is hugging me from the front and Erik is squeezed between my wings from behind.

They are sleeping soundly, suspecting nothing and I plan to leave it like that. I don’t want to listen to my father, but he’s right. Telling my partners would only freak them out and they can’t protect me in my dreams anyway. This is something I have to face alone. It’s just between me and my father—a battle of two telepaths.


“Love, you haven’t eaten anything,” Erik nudges me during lunch when I tell the maids to take away the leftovers. My plate is still mostly full.

“Sorry, I just can’t,” I shake my head, hoping they won’t force me this time.

I somehow survived the whole morning without letting anyone suspect a thing. Attending two important meetings required my full attention and took my mind off thinking about my dreamy torturous training, but another night is inevitably approaching.

My wings in the real world are just fine, of course, but I can’t get rid of that unpleasant after-feeling. I still vividly remember the chains crushing my precious feathered limbs. If I could, I would just curl under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate, snuggle with my partners and let them comfort me. However, that wouldn’t solve a thing and I have important work to do.

“Do you feel sick, my love?” Gotrid put his hand on my forehead, checking my temperature.

“No, just a bit tired and without appetite,” I shake my head, trying to sound convincing. “I promise to eat a snack later. Is the Prime Minister coming?”

“In fifteen minutes,” Luviael reports, always staying by my side. “The meeting should take two hours, a flying session after that.”

My mood gets brighter when she mentions that. I have something to look forward to even though I dread the evening. My stomach tightens painfully whenever I think about what’s coming. Will my father use torture as a means to train me again? And what should I ask him? It has to be something clever this time, I can’t waste another opportunity.

We move to the office and I catch Erik and Gotrid watching me intently. I can tell they are slightly worried. I will have to force myself to eat normally to avoid further suspicion. The fact that I’m constantly focusing on hiding a part of my mind from them isn’t exactly helping either.

“Your Imperial Majesty,” the Prime Minister bows deeply when the guards let him enter the Royal Office. I’m glad that we can all sit around the table like in Europe.

Liana joins us and we start discussing the conditions of a significant number of Celestials staying in Japan indefinitely. The Prime Minister is quite pushy with his agenda, but I understand his motivation. He just wants to protect his country and he knows that pride has no place in this matter. Japan doesn’t have any military force the way the United States do.

“Enjoy the flight, hon,” Erik sees me off when the meeting ends and I quickly change into a sporty robe. “In the meanwhile, I’m having an afternoon tea with the Prime Minister.”

“You’re amazing, you know that?” I kiss him.

Erik might not have any executive power, but his representative role is invaluable. Humans never relax in my presence so an informal meeting with the Celestial Emperor’s Consort is exactly what we need to deepen friendly relations.

“I know,” he grins and playfully squeezes my right wing.

I have to exert all my willpower not to twitch. Erik’s touch isn’t painful, of course, but it reminds me of last night.

Then I spread my wings and fly up. Flying always helps me take my mind off difficult things and clear unnecessary thoughts. Gotrid asks me if I want to play a game, but I shake my head and continue ascending. I stop only when I’m above the clouds. No matter how proficient my father’s telepathy is, I highly doubt he can reach that far.

Wanting to use every opportunity to spend some quality time with my partner, I engage Gotrid in an aerial courtship dance. He joins me enthusiastically and, for a moment, I forget about my father and everything. However, Gotrid eventually gets out of breath, so I hover for a while to give him time to rest.

“L-love?!” Gotrid exclaims and is staring at me for some reason.

“Feel free to rest more, should I conjure a levitation platform for you?” I offer even though a Celestial should be able to effectively rest when gliding.

“No, I mean… you’re not flapping your wings!” Gotrid widens his eyes.

At first, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Then I realise that he was right. While waiting for him to catch his breath, I stopped flapping my wings to get some rest as well, yet I’m effortlessly hovering. That realisation startles me, whatever was keeping me afloat gets disturbed and I start falling. Naturally, I spread my wings again and fly up in no time, but something unusual just happened and I have no idea how I did that.

“Your Majesty, what was that?!” Vermiel and Sareash hurry to me. Of course, I had to be seen by almost everyone.

“I don’t know,” I say honestly. “Subconscious air magic?”

“That’s amazing!” my Celestial entourage starts flying around me in circles, celebrating another achievement. “Will we be able to do that as well soon?”

“I don’t know,” I repeat.

I have a nagging feeling that it has something to do with my secret training last night. My father was surprised that I was able to fly in my dream just because I believed that I could. How hard can it be in the real world where the air is abundant and my trust is even stronger? I’ve always felt that the air is my ally, something I can rely on. Holding me in one place doesn’t seem so difficult.

We land and before I can tell them not to say anything to anyone just yet, Vermiel runs off to report to Liana.

“It’s astonishing, love, why aren’t you happy?” Gotrid takes my hand and kisses me. “I thought we had you finally overcome your unwillingness to demonstrate your powers.”

“I have no idea how I did it,” I sigh. “It’s premature to celebrate.”

“You did it once, you can do it again,” Gotrid isn’t put off at all. “Do you think we will be able to hover like that as well?”

“Maybe?” I’m not sure.

How much does it have to do with my Celestial powers? And how much of it is a result of my last night’s training? What held me effortlessly in the air was pure magic, but I have a feeling that I used the non-Celestial part of my brain to do so. Is that what makes me the embodiment of magic? Is that the question I should ask my father this night?


“Don’t worry, Your Majesty, we doubled the security,” Sareash assures me when I’m being escorted to our suite after a day full of meetings.

I nod approvingly, hoping my cringy smile won’t give me away. The shield has been reinforced and Celestial guards doubled which gave my subjects an illusionary sense of safety. But the truth is that they can’t protect me against my father. All that impressive Celestial magic is useless when compared to someone who can invade minds.

Erik goes to take a quick shower while the maids change me into a light sleeping robe. Gotrid is already getting excited because we have a full hour before we should call it a night. Erik returns and surprises me because he’s wearing a yukata he got from the Prime Minister. He’s so handsome. Both of my amazing partners are.

“What’s wrong, love? Tired?” Gotrid grabs me around my waist and pulls me closer.

“Hon, you’re lost in thoughts, but we can’t read you,” Erik pokes me between my eyebrows.

“Sorry, just thinking about tomorrow’s agenda,” I lie. “I don’t want to burden your minds with my mess.”

“You know that’s never the case,” Gotrid kisses my left wing gently. “Let us share your burden.”

“Even better, don’t think about tomorrow when we have an hour to cuddle,” Erik suggests. “Let tomorrow happen tomorrow.”

“You’re right,” I force myself to smile. “Would you give me a massage?”

Erik and Gotrid grin at each other, symbolically crack their knuckles and pull me onto our bed. I lie on my stomach, spread my wings to the sides and sigh out in relief when they start working on my back and wings. Their touch is pure heaven to my weary body and I project my enjoyment out to let them feel pleasure in return.

I’m afraid to fall asleep, but I eventually do.


“Do you want jam or syrup on them, hon?” Erik asks, putting a huge pile of pancakes on the plate in front of me.

“I have a feeling our beloved is salivating for an entirely different reason,” Gotrid laughs and leans forward to take a few for himself.

“What, am I too sexy in an apron?” Erik smirks and flirtatiously turns around.

“So sexy,” I smile, spread strawberry jam on the first pancake and bite into it. “Are there more?”

“Coming,” Erik nods and runs back to the stove. “I made a ton of dough so be sure to eat a lot.”

“Who’s in charge of washing the dishes today?” I ask, gobbling Erik’s delicious pancakes.

“That would be you, love,” Gotrid kicks me gently under the table. “There’s no flying before the chores.”

“But I’m almost always in charge of the dishes,” I puff.

“Well, since somebody here can’t even boil eggs without devastating the entire kitchen…,” Erik starts.

“I like washing the dishes,” I quickly take that back. “Can I go flying right afterwards? I need to train for the match.”

Erik turns back to me, but his expression gets frozen. I blink, confused, and look at Gotrid. He froze in the middle of putting a fork into his mouth. I want to get up and hurry to them, but the table dissolves and the figures of my beloved follow in just a second.

I cry in horror, but the realisation comes to me almost immediately. None of this was real, it was just a sweet dream—my wishful thinking was projecting an illusion.

“Is that what you wish for?” my father appears next to me. “Normal life?”

“So what!” I retort and take a step away from him.

“Then why are you dressed like that?” he tilts his head and a big mirror materialises in front of me.

“Like what?” I don’t understand and check my reflection. I’m wearing a multi-layered royal attire and there’s a diamond tiara on my head.

“There’s a disharmony between your mundane wishes and how you inevitably see yourself,” he says. “You have a mind of a true ruler, but it doesn’t quite agree with your personality. I’m afraid you got that from your mother. She was also too kind for her own good.”

“Did you make me see that dream to torture me again?” I get angry.

“No, that was all a manifestation of your mind,” he shrugs and doesn’t seem to be lying. “Now, this is my doing.”

He invades my mind with a force much more brutal than ever before. He has no intention to hold back this time and goes after my most cherished memories.


“I just want to buy you a glass of wine, beauty, why are you so evasive?” a man a head taller than me and once my weight is blocking the only way out. “I saw you at the bar, wasting time with losers. Why don’t you go on a date with me instead?”

“No, thank you,” I say clearly, sensing his dark intentions. The guy is drunk already and just looking for an easy target to hook up with. It was my grave mistake for not noticing that he followed me to the bathroom.

“Come on, I’ll show you a good time,” the man smirks unpleasantly and grabs my wrist. “Gosh, how many hours a day are you spending on taking care of that pretty face of yours?”

“N-no, l-let go!” I start panicking, but there’s no way I’m a match for him. His touch is disgusting and almost makes me vomit when his thoughts hit me. That guy is seriously dangerous.

“Hey, I’m calling the police!” another man suddenly shows up and is holding a phone at his ear. “Hi, I want to report an attempted rape. I’m at the Fiesta bar…”

“Tss,” my attacker clicks his tongue, finally lets go of my wrist and runs off.

I sigh in relief and collapse on the floor. My head is spinning from the forced telepathic encounter and I’m not throwing up only because the last meal I had today was breakfast.

“Are you okay?” my saviour drops to his knees. “Sorry, I was only pretending to be calling the police, I didn’t have time to dial their number. Phew, I don’t believe that worked so well. I was so scared!”

“Thank you,” I dry my tears to the sleeve of my hoodie and try to focus my sight in the dimly lit hall. “Who are you?”

“I’m Erik,” the man smiles at me encouragingly and I notice how beautiful his green eyes are. “I noticed that guy looking at you strangely and following you when you were passing by my table. Can you stand up?”

He offers me his hand. I’m afraid of another touch, but he isn’t grabbing me. He’s actually waiting for my consent. I accept his support and he pulls me up. Our bare skin touches and a wave of comfort runs through me. Whoever this person is, he’s genuinely a good guy.

“Thanks,” I mutter and let go of him hesitantly.

“Can I call you a taxi home?” he smiles at me again. “Don’t take me wrong, but I don’t think someone like you should be walking alone at night.”

“Someone like me?” I frown.

“Sorry, I feel like whatever I might say right now, I will end up no better than that guy I’ve just chased off,” he laughs nervously. “You’re too cute, mysterious stranger.”

I frown again, but it doesn’t make me feel gross hearing it from him.

“That was probably inappropriate,” he apologises, waving his hands frantically. “You must still be in shock. Let me call you that taxi.”

I study his broad shoulders and neatly cut brown hair as he escorts me through the noisy bar outside. He even stays with me until the taxi arrives. How can his mere presence be so soothing?

“Feel free to blow your nose into it,” he says when I get in the car and he hands me a tissue with a number written on it. “But maybe if you ever feel like it, we could meet in some nice café during the day so that you feel safe?”

I’m staring at the number, then I stare at him. He’s looking at me, hopeful, but expecting nothing in return for saving me. My chest gets tight, I could be staring into those green eyes for hours.

“Thanks again, Erik,” I whisper, recalling his name. “I’m Ryuuto and a huge fan of pumpkin spiced latté.”