༺ XV ༻

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꧁༺࿅ིཽ• –– •❈• –– •࿅ིཽ༻꧂

     When I woke up the next day, I was surprised to see that Liwei was gone. I reached over to his side of the bed, immediately noticing that it was cold. His scent was faint, indicating that he hadn't returned to sleep. I closed my eyes and reached out through our bond only to discover that he had his protective wall up, preventing me from seeing where he was and what he was doing.

How unusual, I thought. He only blocked me whenever he was hiding something that related to the affairs of Wuzhen. I had hoped that he would stop doing that after the coronation but it quickly became apparent that he would do whatever it took to protect me even if I blatantly disagreed with his methods. My body began to heat up, my desire to show him that I could protect myself fueling my frustration.

I walked over to the changing panel where an elegant pink sheni was resting on the nightstand for me. I grasped it gently in my hands, afraid that the slightest rough handling would unravel its fragile threading. I ran my fingers along the edges of its sleeves, reveling in its silky texture. I admired the tunic part of the dress because it was closer to what I normally wore. I grimaced at the skirt, knowing it would only get in the way of what I wanted to do. It definitely wasn't an appropriate outfit to wear for training.

I left the sheni on the nightstand and walked over to the wardrobe to pull out a black tunic that was more to my liking. I quickly dressed and pinned my hair up with simple hairpins before heading to the courtyard to meet Guanyu for training.

When I arrived in the courtyard, I was astonished to see he wasn't alone. Members of the King's Armguard were paired off and sparring against each other in human and dragon form. I watched in awe as I watched one soldier swing his weapon at the hovering dragon above him. His confidence never faltered even when the dragon unleashed a powerful flurry of flames. I expected him to sustain some sort of injury, instead, he jumped high into the air through the flames, completely unscathed.

"Meihui, how is he doing that?" I asked Guanyu.

He bowed to me respectfully in greeting and replied, "Dragons are impervious to fire, your Majesty. Its heat fuels our power and grants us the ability to continue fighting until our last breath."

I couldn't help but wonder why it was a necessity to train in this manner. "Why doesn't he just shift? Wouldn't that be easier?" I asked Guanyu with a confused expression.

Guanyu smiled knowingly, bringing attention to the crinkles in his face. "It would be simpler, your Majesty, but sometimes a dragon doesn't have the luxury of shifting. We must always be prepared in the event that our opponent utilizes our weaknesses."

"I suppose that makes sense, but I can't imagine our people fighting one another. Wouldn't it be better for them to just fight in their human forms?"

He shook his head and explained, "It would certainly be easier. However, all of our enemies are not necessarily the yaoguai or the Auzineian mages. Naestrirea is a large realm, your Majesty. There is no way for us to predict what will happen in another country and more often than not, the average soldier may run into a shapeshifting demon or spirit. It's best to be prepared for anything that may come."

"How did you become so knowledgeable about fighting, Guanyu?" I asked, staring up at him with newfound respect.

He chuckled, "Your Majesty thinks too highly of me. I've been involved in many wars and I've seen many unspeakable things in the past few centuries. Naestrirea is always evolving with her people. Whether it's for the good or bad, it's impossible to tell."

A Celestial Requiem (Book 1, The Secrets of Tarot series) ✔Where stories live. Discover now