Chapter 29

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“Alex?” Lilly waved her hand in front of my face. “You okay?”
I realized I’d been silent for a while now. “I–yeah. I’m Fine. Just narrating.”
“Oh. Sorry for interrupting. Just tell me when you’re done, okay?”
“No problem. I just finished, actually.” I took a deep breath. “So… you’re a dragon slayer…”
“Used to be the family business, way back during the Conflict.”
“But nobody’s seen a dragon in… a really long time. How can there still be dragon slayers?”
“Tradition, I suppose. My dad seems convinced the dragons are going to suddenly reappear and start killing people. So he insisted I train to fight them. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter.”
“So… if you met a dragon… would you… would you really–”
“Maybe. It–it depends.” She sighed. “I was told that all dragons were evil, and I know they’ve done some terrible things, but… I just have trouble believing an entire species deserves to be killed. I’m sure–I’m sure some of them were good people. But others… they turned people into slaves.”
Slaves? What are you talking about?”
“You’ve never heard about dragon riders?”
“They weren’t slaves. They were–they were partners.”
“Not according to what I’ve heard.”
“Where did you hear it? Your family full of dragon slayers? Yeah, that sounds like a good place to get objective facts on dragons.”
“I–It’s not just my family. Everyone says the riders were slaves. There are accounts of it and everything. It’s a fact.”
“I’ve read the personal journals of several riders,” I countered, “They were most definitely not slaves. They commanded great respect among the dragons. A symbol of inter-species peace and unity. And they loved their dragon partners.”
“They were brainwashed! They were altered both physically and mentally. And bound in service to their dragon master.”
“That’s–that theory was disproved over a hundred years ago. The relationship was completely consensual. It just got misinterpreted due to the–” I stopped. “You grew up among other angels, right?”
“Yeah. Of course. Our town was entirely–”
“And they told you dragon riders were all slaves?”
“Figures.” I growled lightly. “I shouldn’t be surprised, really. Angels aren’t exactly well-known for accepting scientific evidence if it goes against what they believe.” I sighed. “Considering we’ve got an incubus upstairs… we’d better take some time to clear up any misinformation you’ve heard about ‘cubi.”
“I’d hazard a guess they told you ‘cubi would suck out your soul if you had sex with them.”
She hesitated for a moment, then nodded.
“That’s a pretty common misconception. ‘Cubi feed on sexual energy, but it’s not like it drains you of anything. Except perhaps regular energy. I hear they can be rather… intense.”
“Okay. I–I guess you’re probably right. Can’t trust what they told me when it comes to other species.” She laughed. “They also told me ‘cubi lay their eggs inside people.”
“Yeah… uh… that one… that one’s actually true.”
She stopped laughing. “Seriously?”
I nodded. “I think that’s a large part of why they get so much hatred.”
“So… so those videos were actually… accurate?”
Videos?” I looked at her in horror. “They made you watch videos of it?”
“They wanted to show us the dangers of ‘cubi.” Lilly shivered. “Half the class threw up. I–I couldn’t look at my– you know…”
“Cloaca?” I offered.
She nodded. “For a week. I just kept imagining…” Another shiver. “Those diagrams were just so… and the screams…”
“That’s fucked up.”
I always knew angel culture was a bit messed up, but… forcing kids to watch videos of–of something like that…
I had hoped to discover that angels weren’t as bad as I’d heard. Instead, I was slowly realizing that they may just be even worse. At that moment, being 33% angel felt like 50% too much.

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