Chapter 97:

A Family Dinner

Draconia Offline

“Son, is there really no chance we’re doing this with as few people as possible?” my father sighs. “I acknowledge your Consorts as my sons-in-law, but your Viceroy has no connection to our family.”

“Either she goes or I don’t,” I insist stubbornly. “She’s like family to me.”

“We have one vacancy at the table,” Nyx saves the situation. “Let the Celestial Viceroy come if it makes your son happy.”

“Alright then,” he concedes in the end. “Let’s meet in an hour so that we have some time to prepare and you can change your clothes. I’ll send someone to pick you up.”

We ride the elevator together, but we go our separate ways after that. My entourage and I are guided to our accommodation and my father with Nyx head towards their homes. I wonder what a Divementis home looks like. I guess I’ll see that in an hour.

“There’s no way I’d let you go the lion’s den alone, but, gosh, I feel like I will be intruding,” Liana laments.

“Li, I really consider you to be my family,” I give her an encouraging smile. “My Divementis relatives will either accept you or I won’t accept them.”

“Fair enough,” she laughs and because we arrive at our apartments, she goes to her room to prepare.

“I don’t think that I need to change my clothes,” I say to the maids because my guards messaged them in advance to let them know about my evening program.

“Don’t talk nonsense, Your Majesty, of course, you need to change your clothes,” the maids strongly disagree.

“I don’t think you can beat this,” I touch the crown on my head and add quickly: “Please, don’t take it as a challenge.”

“We finally have a chance to try an evening robe!” Cien celebrates. “Also, why would you wear the crown for a family dinner? That would be awkward and uncomfortable. You’re not attending a business meeting, Your Majesty.”

“I have an evening robe?” I tilt my head.

“Naturally, we just didn’t have a chance to put it on you just yet,” Ayame giggles. “Oh, I’m so glad we packed it after all.”

I resist rolling my eyes. No wonder we had so much luggage. I want to turn to Erik, but he disappears in the bathroom. Right, he’s the only one who needs to use the toilet from time to time.

“Do your worst then,” I say resignedly because I stopped caring what they put on me months ago. I accepted that I have no power over my wardrobe. On the other hand, Gotrid seems excited that he also gets an evening robe.

At first, I don’t see how it’s different from my usual royal attire, but then the upper materials start to get glossy until I end up with a dark blue over-robe with silver spots that look like the night sky. I’d never wear something like this to a meeting, but the maids are right that it’s perfect for dinner. They also take off my crown and give me a much smaller matching hairpiece.

“Do you like it, Your Majesty?” Ayame and Cien beam at me.

“I love it,” I grin and inspect myself in the mirror.

I notice that Erik’s tuxedo is still hanging on a rack and realise that he’s not back yet even though the maids took their sweet time with me. I don’t want to bother him in the bathroom, but I get worried. Erik has been unusually quiet on our way back.

“Ehm… Erik?” I softly knock on the door because I don’t want to pry telepathically. “Are you okay?”

“Just a sec,” he calls back.

I wait patiently until he’s ready to come out. When he does, he looks normal, but I can sense that his emotions are jumbled and he feels anxious.

“A new robe?” he gives me a faint smile. “You look so beautiful, love.”

“Erik, you’re not okay,” I shake my head and go for a comforting hug. “What’s wrong? Talk to me. Are you upset about what my father said? About what I said?”

He hugs me around my back and clutches my feathers. I want to give him space, but I can’t avoid connecting to him when he does that. His emotions intensify and flood my mind. I feel things I have never felt from him before because he kept them suppressed. He might not have been even aware of them, but he is now and it’s tearing him apart. I’ve never seen him this insecure about being the only human among us.

“I’ll cancel the dinner,” I kiss him tenderly and shower him with my love.

“What? No!” he protests. “I’m not thrilled about it, but they are your family, Ryuu.”

“You, Gotrid and Liana are my family,” I assure him. “You don’t feel okay and you’re my absolute priority. Let’s have a nice relaxing evening, what do you say? Just the three of us.”

“No, I want to go,” he insists. “Not because it’s part of my obligations as the Royal Consort, but because they are your family and you should get to know them. I should get to know them. Damn, they are my in-laws!”

I watch him as he’s dressing up in haste and my heart is aching. I feel his resolve, he genuinely does want to go, but he’s pushing himself. It’s no use telling him to stop, though, he’s very stubborn once he decides on something.

“My modern prince,” I hug him with my wings when he’s done. “You’re so handsome.”

“I know,” he finally smiles.

“My Emperor, what about me?” Gotrid joins us and covers us both with his feathers.

“That goes without saying,” I tease him.

“Your Majesty, Her Excellency is waiting for you with the Divementis envoy,” Luviael enters the room to convey the message and sees our feathered cocoon. “Ehm, what are you doing?”

“Comfort cuddling before the family drama,” Gotrid jokes.

“No drama!” I whine and untangle my wings. “Let’s go,” I give them both a quick kiss and pray there won’t be any drama.


The building they lead us to looks quite different from other residential houses. This isn’t a remodelled office building but a proper apartment complex and luxurious on top. I bet that only the most prominent Divementis officials live here. We enter the elevator and our escort takes us to the highest floors.

“Welcome,” my father is waiting for us already at the entrance. He also changed his robe to a more informal one. “Please, follow me.”

We try not to stare, but it’s impossible. While the furniture is mostly human, there are many distinctly alien things all around from technology to art. In the case of some objects, I can’t even begin to speculate about their purpose.

The dining room is quite normal, though. I guess there’s nothing a humanoid race would change about a table and chairs. I’m relieved to see that three chairs are Celestial-friendly. Nyx is waiting for us and there are two Divementis I haven’t seen before nervously standing next to her.

I realise that I can recognise a certain unmistakable resemblance. Those two do look similar to Nyx and are much younger so she must be their mother. I also realise that I can easily tell their genders. It’s very subtle, but they are a boy and a girl. I wonder how old they are. Maybe the same age as me?

I give them an inquisitive look and I suddenly feel them panicking and hastily fortifying their minds. Why are they so anxious? It should be us feeling nervous. We might have six guards with us, but we are at the mercy of the Divementis here.

“Son, what did I tell you about your telepathic pressure?” my father raises his eyebrow.

“I didn’t do anything,” I oppose.

“You send out your mind on reflex,” he sighs. “That habit will be difficult to break.”

“Not now, Althorion,” Nyx coughs to change the subject. “Your Majesty, this is my daughter Nala and my son Advin. I was told that you know already that I’m actually your aunt. That makes my children your cousins.”

“Hello,” I try to smile amicably at Nala and Advin, but they are still looking at me as if I’m going to invade their minds. I feel like I haven’t made the best first impression.

“Let’s sit,” my father says and sits down first. Nyx sits right next to him and her children take the sides.

We don’t have much choice about the seating order because there’s only one non-Celestial chair at our side of the table and that’s reserved for Erik. Erik ends up sitting to my right, Gotrid to my left and Liana next to Erik. It seems my father wanted to make sure that I sat right in front of him.

“I don’t know how the Divementis address their aunts,” I start politely. “Also, can you please stop using honorifics with me?”

“We use the word atea,” Nyx smiles, “but you can keep calling me Nyx. As for dropping honorifics, I’m afraid that I can’t do that. Only most direct relatives or spouses can call the members of the Royal bloodline informally. Besides, Your Majesty is also the Celestial Emperor.”

“So, you can address my father by his name, but not me—his son?” I can’t believe my ears. What kind of messed up hierarchy is that?

“If I’m not mistaken about how it works among Celestials, only your Consorts are allowed to be on a first-name basis with Your Majesty,” she answers patiently. “That’s not any different from our tradition.”

“But you’re my aunt, it’s weird,” I say desperately.

“Ehm, love?” Gotrid pulls my sleeve and I feel that both of my partners and Liana panicked for a second. “You didn’t say that last sentence in English.”

“What?” I look at him, confused. “What do you mean?”

“You used our language just now,” my father explains sharply and there’s a hint of satisfaction in his voice. “I guess your brain is trying to subconsciously wire itself towards us.”

I chew my lip. I hope that I won’t do that again during the evening. I felt how it startled my beloved just now. Fortunately, I’m saved by the first course being served. I pay attention to the plate in front of me and notice that there’s nothing even remotely Divementis about the dishes or the utensils.

“What are you surprised about, son?” my father tilts his head. “Did you expect something more alien? There’s no reason to forcefully change something that works perfectly as it is. Yes, the Divementis eating etiquette used to be a bit different, but we escaped Draconia two hundred years ago. We adopted many parts of the human culture.”

“Maybe too many,” Nyx sight and looks at her children. They look as Divementis as it gets, but I notice that the air around them is somehow different.

“Were they born here?” I ask openly.

“Yes, they are only a few years older than you, Your Majesty,” Nyx nods. “I hope that you will want to get to know them better.”

“Of course,” I say enthusiastically. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I have two cousins, but I like it. I wonder if we can get closer or if the bridge between us is too wide to cross since I’m only half-Divementis.

I finish my starter, it’s a really good mushroom stick with some special sauce. I notice that Erik got pieces of smoked salmon and so did the Divementis. Oh, so they can eat meat just as I could when I was still half-human.

“Your eating preferences are Celestial, but it seems you inherited our rather small stomach,” my father comments. I don’t think he heard my thoughts just now, but he could tell from the way I’m analysing our plates. “It’s okay, you just have to eat more often. I bet you’re the type who doesn’t like snacking between meals, but as I’ve already told your Earthborn doctor, you should.”

I don’t like him giving me a lecture, but when I automatically get a smaller portion of soup than my partners and Erik—the same portion as my Divementis relatives—I honestly feel relieved. I hate feeling overstuffed after a meal. I simply can’t stomach Celestial portion sizes.

The soup is the same for everyone, my favourite asparagus. I wonder if it took the Divementis a lot of time to get used to human cooking and ingredients from Earth. There are so many things that interest me. Will I ever have time to ask about everything?

“Is this your apartment, father?” I ask to break the momentary silence.

“No, it belongs to Nyx and her family,” he shakes his head. “Mine is more frugal, I don’t need a huge dining room and I prefer to eat with my sister anyway.”

Right, I kind of guessed that my father doesn’t have a partner so it means that he lives alone if I don’t count his servants and guards.

“Ask away,” he sighs. “Since you started to guard your mind, I can’t read you easily, but I can tell when you have a million questions going through your head. Don’t ask me about the game or the invasion, though. Now it’s finally time to ask about your family.”

“Why didn’t you find a new partner?” I blurt out. I know that it’s very insensitive of me, but I have to know.

“I’ve never found another person I’d love as much as I loved Amelia,” he answers and his voice is a bit cracked. “Love doesn’t come easily to the Divementis, son. We were shocked when we first came here and discovered that humans practised arranged marriages. The Divementis can’t bond to people they don’t truly love.”

“Can’t? Really?!” Gotrid widens his eyes and I have no idea why he’s so taken aback by that information. No, he’s not just taken aback—he’s ecstatic about the revelation for some reason.

“We’re physiologically and mentally incapable of it,” my father confirms.

“But our cousin is clearly different,” Nala frowns and it’s the first time she finds the courage to speak up. Her expression even shows slight defiance. “He has two partners! We can’t bond to more partners at the same time.”

“Nala,” Nyx hisses and nudges her. “Use proper honorifics, His Majesty is your Prince.”

“True, my son is peculiar in that aspect,” my father admits. “It must be because of his Celestial half because Celestial Emperors were known to be polyamorous. Still, he can’t bond with people he doesn’t love.”

Again, Gotrid’s emotional state reacts wildly, but I don’t have space to ask him about it. Besides, my father would hear it.

“So… they didn’t force you to take another partner even though you lack an heir,” I summarise to make things clear.

“They couldn’t, it doesn’t work that way with us,” he sighs. “The best they could do is to arrange a date with every unbonded Divementis woman in our community. I didn’t fall in love with any of them, unfortunately, so my subjects ran out of options. Frankly, the Divementis were slowly coming to terms with the Royal bloodline ending with me, but then we learned about your existence.”

“The thing is,” Nyx adds because she can feel the next question coming, “we can’t produce offspring with a person we don’t love. We can have sex, sure, but our reproductive system doesn’t react unless we release special love hormones. As for artificial reproduction… well, that never resulted in producing a child with Royal genes. Trust me, we tried many times.”

“Then the Royal bloodline ends with me,” I say darkly. “I’m not pure Divementis anyway and since I can’t bond to a person I don’t love, I will never bond to a woman since I’m gay.”

“I have two hundred years to live, I’m still in my prime,” my father snorts and it’s the first time I see him annoyed. There are lots of first times ever since we came here.

“Even if we win this, I can’t promise that I will take over,” I say strongly so that there’s no misunderstanding. “Besides, two hundred years… gosh, I can’t even imagine living for that long. How long do Celestials live anyway?”

“They were the most long-lived Draconian race,” my father reveals. “They could live up to six hundred on average, depending on how well they were able to control mana in their bodies that was rejuvenating their cells. Naturally, their emperor was immortal unless killed because the embodiment of magic was one with mana.”

Liana coughs and spits out the soup she is sipping, Erik drops his spoon, Gotrid’s wings twitch and I just stare at my father, dumbfounded. Is he implying that I might be…? No, that’s impossible!

“I’m only half-Celestial,” I say quickly and look at my shocked partners and Viceroy. “I’m sure that I’ll live as long as any Celestial.”

“Aefener, do your feathers store mana?” my father narrows his eyes. “We did steal your feather for DNA testing, but we couldn’t test that. We can’t feel it, you have to tell me.”

“Ehm… yes?” I say extremely slowly, scared by where this is going.

“Then you’re immortal because that’s the main sign of the true embodiment of magic,” he smiles victoriously, looking both content and relieved. “Aren’t you happy about it? We certainly have a reason to celebrate, the Divementis Royal bloodline won’t end with me.”

“I… that’s not… I mean… I can’t be…,” I stutter and my wings start trembling.

The ability of my feathers to store mana isn’t that miraculous, right?! I’ve always thought of it as a handy battery of sorts, nothing else. I can’t be immortal, can I? Because that would mean… I look at Erik and Gotrid and my heart skips a beat.

I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that Erik will die in a few dozen years, but, at least, I was comforted by the fact that Gotrid has the same lifespan as me. Except now I’ve learned that maybe he doesn’t. No one has. Am I destined to spend eternity alone?

“I thought that you suspected already,” my father remarks when he sees our shocked expressions. “The embodiment of magic is one with mana which means that their cells are being rejuvenated constantly whereas, in the case of normal Celestials, it happens mainly during sleep.”

“No, I don’t believe it!” I decide and shake my head stubbornly. “I’m half-Divementis anyway.”

I stretch my hands to the sides and clutch both Erik and Gotrid. They still haven’t overcome the initial shock and even though nothing’s confirmed yet, their heads are full of potential scenarios about our future together. Erik especially is thinking frantically and his thoughts are so fast and chaotic that I have a problem deciphering them.

I try showering them with love, but I can’t calm them down when I’m not calm myself. I feel Liana more distantly because I’m not directly touching her, but, unlike my partners, I can sense careful optimism coming from her. Is she actually happy about it? I focus on my guards, who are silently standing by the walls, and they feel more excited than shocked.

“Well, we will know for sure when we check your body,” he shrugs it off for now. “We planned a thorough medical examination for tomorrow morning. Your research team should arrive in the afternoon so we’d better do it as early as possible.”

I turn pale when he says those words: medical examination.

“What’s wrong, son? Aren’t you curious about which parts of you are Divementis and which Celestial?” he doesn’t understand my reaction.

“His Majesty’s mother conditioned him to be afraid of hospitals and doctors and avoid them at all costs,” Liana explains instead of me because I don’t say anything. She managed to digest the shocking news surprisingly fast.

“She conditioned you?” that astonishes him. “Well, I guess that makes sense. She was good at behavioural psychology and she needed to protect you. What else did she condition you to avoid?”

“You,” I whisper, my wings still trembling.

“What?” my father frowns, confused.

“She told me to never look for my father,” I explain in a shaky voice, “and I never did. Every time I thought of you, I felt dread.”

That leaves the Divementis Emperor speechless. I wish I could read his emotions and thoughts right now. What is he thinking? Is he remorseful? Angry at my mother? Disappointed? Irritated?

“I… I see,” he says heavily after a few long moments, “Amelia must have been afraid of what my subjects would do to a human-Divementis hybrid.”

The soup plates are taken away and we’re served the main dish. Surprisingly, it’s European cuisine. Erik and my Divementis relatives get a steak with potatoes while Liana, Gotrid and I get pasta with stir-fried vegetables and grated cheese. I have to let go of my partners’ hands, so I stretch my wings and hug them with my wings instead.

All my appetite left me after that unexpected revelation, but I force myself to eat. I chew slowly, trying to think how to get out of tomorrow’s medical examination. I know that my fear is stupid now because I have no more use for it, but I can’t help it.

“Love, you should go,” Gotrid finally speaks up, having recovered a bit. “We have to confirm it. Besides, we need to finally know how your body works. They might help you with your indigestion and migraines. Don’t worry, I will be holding your hand during the whole process.”

Erik stays silent, still thinking things through.

“Son, our medical examination doesn’t hurt,” my father assures me. “We won’t do anything invasive. We will just scan your body and if we need to go deeper, we can ask your Earthborn physician for help.”

“Okay,” I say, but I know that I don’t sound enthusiastic. At least I can hope that the examination will prove that I’m not immortal.

I eat a mouthful of pasta so that I don’t get scolded for not eating properly, but I keep checking the mental states of Erik and Gotrid. Their expressions are stiff and they still feel bewildered, but it seems each of them is for a different reason. Not wanting to pry, I look down to my plate.

“Won’t you ask about your mother?” my father surprises me by suggesting that so openly.

“I wanted to, but…,” I bite my lip because I don’t feel comfortable about it when there are Divementis servants and my guards around.

“I understand, we will talk in a dream state then,” he says as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. Maybe it is for the Divementis. “Anyway, I’m assigning you Nala and Advin as your adjutants. They will start tomorrow.”

“You what?” I almost drop the fork.

“Their job will be to take care of your needs and comfort, make sure that coordination between Celestials and Divementis runs smoothly and help you with your daily agenda,” he explains matter-of-factly. “It’s customary for relatives who didn’t inherit the Royal bloodline to proudly take up such functions and help the sovereign. Nala and Advin might be young, but I think that you will find the company of Divementis close to your age and born here refreshing.”

“I don’t…,” I try to oppose, but Nyx interrupts me.

“Your Majesty, it would shame my family if you rejected them,” she pleads. “It’s our tradition that cousins without the gift help their Prince or Princess. Besides, you won’t get a better chance to get to know your people than this.”

“Well, I guess… okay?” I say uncertainly.

“I promise you that they won’t get in your way,” Nyx smiles encouragingly. “Still, I beg you to keep them close. They have a lot to learn about politics and other Draconian races. Seriously, I swear that sometimes they behave more like humans since they were born here. If you need to discipline them, feel free. As their Prince, you are naturally their superior.”

“More like humans?” I raise my eyebrows because I don’t believe it.

“Son, I know that you see yourself more as a Celestial than a Divementis, but I’d like to teach you about our rich culture and history,” my father proposes. “Your schedule will be packed, but we can’t underestimate this part of your Divementis heritage.”

I would be lying if I said that I’m not curious, so I nod. Nevertheless, it’s so strange. Just a week ago the Divementis were still a total mystery to us and now we’re having dinner with them and they are willing to tell us all their secrets. I even stopped seeing them as aliens. Maybe we can cooperate after all?

When we finish the dinner, it’s already nine. If I’m to meet with my father in a dream state, I should call it a night early today so that I get enough sleep. My father doesn’t try to hold us for longer exactly because of that.

“See you soon, Aefener,” he says instead of a goodnight.


We’re quite tired so we don’t talk much on our way back. Both Erik and Gotrid need more time to think so I decide to give them space and only Liana can’t stop babbling about my apparent immortality which I adamantly refuse to believe in. I insist that my mana-storing feathers are just a handy power source which has nothing to do with my lifespan.

“Thank you for coming there with me,” I say to Liana in front of her apartment that’s just opposite ours.

“It wasn’t as tense as I expected,” she admits. “Not that it was short of shocking discoveries. Immortal, geez. One more reason for our people to go crazy about Your Majesty.”

“I hope not,” I sigh and wish her goodnight.

“Bathroom,” Erik mumbles the moment we step into our apartment and runs off.

I’m left on the doorstep, confused. Sure, it’s been almost three hours and Erik has his human needs, but he’s clearly running away from our inevitable follow-up conversation, not just to empty his bladder. I can feel his emotions and they are super turbulent. I look at Gotrid who, on the other hand, feels relieved for some reason.

“We should talk,” I say simply and he nods.

I briefly tell the maids that the dinner went rather well and let them change us into our sleeping robes. Maybe it’s for the best that Erik isn’t here for now so that I can focus on Gotrid first.

“Gotrid, you reacted strangely during the dinner when we were talking about Divementis partnership bonds,” I say, unsure how to phrase it. “We need to talk about it. I mean properly talk. Is there something you aren’t telling me? I’m sorry, but my telepathy isn’t omniscient. Also, I don’t pry into places of your consciousness which I feel that you guard.”

“I appreciate that,” he says, takes my right hand and kisses it to express his gratefulness.

“So, what was that about?” I poke him.

“You really don’t know?” he’s slightly surprised.

“I really don’t,” I assure him.

“Aefener,” his eyes suddenly get wet and he uses my name which he rarely does. “The truth is I was afraid that I forced myself on you.”

“You… what?” I tilt my head, astonished.

“I mean,” he grabs a few of my feathers and plays with them to calm himself, “I was pretty forceful with my flirting and romantic advances. In my stupidity, I almost made Erik my enemy. You accepted me in the end, but I haven’t been able to stop pondering whether you just took pity on me.”

I’m staring at him with my mouth open wide. I certainly didn’t expect that out of everything he could have been hesitant about.

“Gotrid, you…,” I chew my lip. “Have you been worrying about it all this time? How come I didn’t notice? Some telepath I am.”

“As you said, you don’t go into places of our minds which you feel that we guard,” he reminds me. “It was the one thing I’ve never wanted you to know. I hid my insecurities behind my cheerful personality. I was afraid that you didn’t love me as much as you love Erik. I was afraid that I would always be the second one—your compulsory Celestial Consort you were forced to take in to make your subjects happy.”

“B-but… that’s ridiculous!” I shake my head violently. “How could you even think that? I’ve opened my heart to you and surrendered to you completely.”

“I don’t know,” his eyes get wet. “I realised how stupid it was only now. It’s just… maybe it’s my selfish thinking, but you seem to pay more attention to Erik than me. You’re always so overprotective of him.”

“Only because Erik doesn’t have magic and can’t protect himself,” I explain eagerly. “I don’t have to worry about your safety as much as I have to worry about Erik’s. You became one of the best casters, Gotrid.”

“R-really?” he sobs, but his eyes brighten up.

“Of course, you rank right after Liana, Taranah, Miruel, Soren and Vermiel,” I assure him vehemently.

“Wait, I’m number six in your ranking?” he suddenly stops crying and frowns instead.

“Well, you don’t have time to train all day long,” I shrug and smile. “Gotrid, you silly, why did you need the Divementis to assure you about my love? Can’t you feel it from me? Should I be even more lovey-dovey with you?”

“I certainly wouldn’t say no to that,” he finally smiles back. “Still, I feel relieved to know that you can’t bond with someone who you don’t truly love.”

“Dummy,” I poke him again, but then I lean for a kiss. I hope Erik returns soon so that we can cuddle together.

Erik does return eventually, but he takes his time. He appears at the door with an expression I’ve never seen him have before and it frightens me.

“Ryuu, I’m sorry, but I decided to sleep on the sofa tonight,” he whispers and his voice is tense. “I need more time to think and I can’t have you influencing me.”

“Sleep… on the sofa?” I repeat after him and the meaning of those words is only slowly starting to decode in my confused brain. When it finally does, I forget to breathe for a moment. “Erik, please… we can talk about it and…”

“Sorry, Ryuu, I need to be alone,” he shakes his head, turns around and simply leaves.

I look at Gotrid and Gotrid looks at me. What has just happened?!