Lilith Clawthorne, the elder and the obviously superior of the two Clawthorne sisters, was a member of the illustrious Emperor's Coven, the sword and shield of the Boiling Isles, loyal only to the great and powerful Emperor Belos. With her straight black hair and stern demeanour, Lilith was unlike any other witch on the Boiling Isles.
She has been in the coven for years, climbing up the ranks with all her might. She was quick-witted and talented and could handle any challenge thrown at her feet. She also had a habit of cursing those who dared get in her way. This may or may not have stemmed from deep-rooted emotional issues.
Some say it was a serious problem. Well, some were the problem now after being cursed into demons. So, there's that.
So far, her rate of growth was phenomenal and there was even a chance for her to, one day, stand equal to the other coven leaders, even the mighty Emperor Belos. But her youth betrayed her and she was less likely to go any further, not with her current age.
That was until opportunity struck.
As of the moment, she was a candidate to become the next coven leader. It was an incredible honour to be chosen, especially for someone of her age. If she succeeded, she'd be the youngest coven leader in history and that was, by far, no small feat.
But it wasn't going to be easy. Her competition was fierce and highly skilled, all of which had far more experience than herself. She was the underdog of this fight and if she was ever going to claim that position, she'd have to stand out far above the rest. She must do and become better than all of her peers. Or curse them, either way.
Which was why she was so nervous. As she was continuing her coven duties with the utmost diligence, a message arrived, sent personally from the unparalleled Emperor Belos. She was shocked and quite frankly, her heart stopped from all the excitement. The emperor had called for her by name and quickly, Lilith realized this was the edge she needed.
She was definitely going to become the next leader of the Emperor's Coven.
In front of the emperor's throne room, Lilith cleared her throat. With shaky hands, she knocked on the door, announcing her presence. It was expected to have manners when attending professional duties. Moments later, the large doors opened and Lilith walked in.
"Lilith Clawthorne, reporting, my lord." She said, bowing to the throne. She then waited for a response, as such was courtesy.
After many long seconds, she raised a brow in confusion and yet, she still bowed.
Defying tradition, she raised her head without permission. Lilith was not a very patient person.
To her surprise, the throne was empty and the unmatched Emperor Belos was nowhere in sight. Was this all a trick, sent by her competitors in an effort to pull her from her responsibilities? If so, she'd make plans to curse them later.
"Ahem." A voice coughed from behind. Startled, Lilith immediately turned around and pointed her staff at the voice.
In front of her stood a familiar face. Lilith knew that face anywhere. Well, more than just the face. The whole body too, since the voice was about the height of a preschooler.
Kikimora, the right-hand of the incredible Emperor Belos. She also looked somewhat dishevelled for some reason.
"Oh, you startled me, Lady Kikimora." Lilith said, straightening herself. "I apologize."
Kikimora hummed. "Mm, yes. Well, do avoid bewitching others while you're here. We had quite a few problems lately. Difficult, to say the least."
Problems? Difficult? For the Emperor's Coven? Preposterous. This must've been a test. The emperor must've called for her to solve a great problem! Yes, and once she passed, she'd definitely gain his favour! With it, the seat of the coven leader was within her grasp.
"I'll do it!" Lilith answered with vigour.
Kikimora the very short and red witch, however, stared at her, confused. "I haven't even said what it was you were called. Do you not wish to hear more?"
"I-Is there more?"
Kikimora shrugged. "Not a lot but can be a deciding factor."
"Is the task at hand important?"
"Extremely so. The emperor would be ever so grateful."
"Then I accept!" Lilith shouted before clearing her throat. "If that's alright with you."
Kikimora sighed and turned to the side, walking away. "Hah, come now. Follow me, miss Lilith." She called.
From behind, Lilith followed the red witch, having exited the room via the side door. Kikimora briskly walking in front due to her short legs and Lilith just behind.
The duo passed the Emperor Coven's inner courtyard and across a long hall, where they reached a tall tower, separate from the rest of the coven area. Large golden doors stood, acting as the entrance. This was the private chamber of the elegant Emperor Belos, where it was said that the greatest secrets of magic were all stored in.
Lilith had never gotten so close to such a place. Only the emperor's closest aides and other coven leaders had ever entered the room. It was a dream come true.
The door was so shiny.
Lilith reached out to the door, only for her hand to be slapped by Kikimora. "Please do not touch anything. We recently cleaned the door."
"A-apologies. But, uh, might I ask why I'm here?" Lilith politely questioned.
Kikimora sighed. "What I'm about to show you is a very private matter to Emperor Belos. Since you've already accepted, you are not allowed to speak of it in any way outside of these walls, do you understand?"
Lilith gulped. "Yes."
"Do you truly understand? Failure to comply is an act of treason."
Kikimora nodded. "Good. Do try not to agitate her. She's a handful."
With that said, Kikimora did a small magic circle and the door opened by itself. The so-called 'private matter' showed herself and Lilith realized this was no what she expected.
Inside the gallant Emperor Belos's private chambers, sat a single little human girl with round ears and puffy cheeks. In front of her was a large piece of diced-up paper, some safety scissors and tubs of glue and glitter. She was also covered with decorative stars, most likely cut out from the paper.
"That there is Luz: Emperor Belos's daughter."
Daughter? Daughter? Emperor Belos had a daughter? The great conqueror of the Boiling Isles, who was never seen in public outside of charity events and witch hunts, somehow bore an offspring with his blood?
The child waved from afar. "Hi, miss Kiki!"
"Hello, miss Luz." Kikimora replied. "Why are you covered head to toe with glitter?"
"Because the stars weren't shiny enough!"
Kikimora nodded with a hum. "Hm, yes. Well, Luz, this is miss Lilith. She'll be your sitter for the duration of your stay."
The small child huffed, placing both hands on her hips. "I don't need a babysitter! I'm 6!"
'That's not the reason why you need a sitter.' Kikimora thought silently. She casually coughed into her fist. "Well, the emperor demands that you require one and if the emperor wills it, so be it."
Little Luz huffed and puffed, crossing her arms in defiance. It only made her look adorable but with Lilith's general confusion and Kikimora's tiredness, it did not work either way. The red witch turned and grabbed a thick tome before passing it onto Lilith.
"Well, here are all the necessary guidelines. If you have any questions, simply consult the book. You may only call me during anything that counts as an emergency." Kikimora turned around and walked out. "Until then, farewell."
"B-but, wait! Lady Kikimora, I don't know how to take care of children!"
"Until then, miss Lilith." She hissed. Twirling her fingers, she formed a magic circle and the door immediately closed, leaving Lilith Clawthorne alone with the child that was presumably Emperor Belos's only child.
Lilith stared at the girl who ten stared back. She then turned down towards the heavy tome, its title etched on the leather cover. 'Baby Beasts and How to Nurture For War', it wrote.
The raven lady was starting to think that maybe she should've listened to what Lady Kikimora had to say first before accepting.
Outside, Kikimora was briskly walking away and towards her personal quarters. As much as she looked up to and praised the amazing Emperor Belos, she did not sign up to take care of blabbering babies. That was Lilith's problem now.
Finally, some sleep...
Meanwhile in the Emperor's Coven's main chamber, around a circular table, the heads of the nine main covens all gathered together for the first time since over 2 decades. The Boiling Isles' greatest witches and wizards, masters of their respective arts, those who led the grand conquest 42 years ago under Emperor Belos's name, all in one place. Had this meeting became public, it would've been in the headlines everywhere.
Once everyone took their seats, the walls lit up with magic, courtesy of the Construction coven's magic. Soundproof, fireproof and magic-resistant, along with countless guards and magical beasts outside, none may interrupt nor eavesdrop on their fateful gathering.
This was an event of a lifetime.
Slowly, the bespectacled leader of the Bard coven, Lord Bartholomew, placed a bag of gold into the table. It was quickly snatched up by the Oracle coven's leader, Lord Jenkins.
"Hah! I was right! And I didn't even need to see the future to know that!" Jenkins said with a laugh.
Lord Bartholomew, the maestro of sound whose spells could change the tide of any battle, fiddled with his glasses. "Well, t'was a good show. Jolly good show, indeed. And what the rest of you?"
One by one, the coven heads placed a bag of gold on the table, all of which were immediately grabbed by Jenkins. The only exceptions were the Healing, Plant and Beast Keeping covens, neither earning nor losing.
The ever-so impressive Emperor Belos wept as he watched the exchanges, both hands covering his golden mask.
"I am in incredible shock to discover my very coven leaders having taken part of such a menial bet at my expense. I should not be but I truly am."
Jenkins hugged his mountain of golden coins, laughing maniacally. "Hahaha, and you all thought I was crazy for taking the fighting bet! Well, look who's laughing now!" He then pointed at a youthful man and scowled. "Especially you, Weiss!"
Lord Weiss, leader of the Illusion coven, a cruel and handsome fellow, chuckled. "Well, I must admit; I lost fair and square."
He then waved his silver mirror, a relic from the Savage Ages, in front of his face. His expression immediately shifted to large hollow smile. "BUT IT WAS SUCH FUN, DONT YOU AGREE?! HAHAHAHAHA!"
"Still, I am quite surprised that our fair emperor did find someone willing enough to do the deed with him." The leader of the Abomination coven, a tall and devilish witch, Lord Bastille, said.
At another chair, the Beast Keeping coven leader with unkempt hair, Lady Sierra, was picking her teeth with sharpened bone. Lacking any table manners, she flicked the bone elsewhere. "Who cares if Belos had sex? My creatures do it all the time."
"Not with animals, Lady Sierra. Especially not with humans." An old-looking woman with an unbloomed flower on top of her head said in a quiet tone. She, Lady Gerheade, was the head botanist of the Plant coven and during the Savage Ages, would use trespassers as fertilizer. "Isn't that right, Durin?"
"Aye." Lord Durin, master builder of the Construction coven and 13-time winner of the best beard competition, replied. Durin was not a witch of many words and some say that was what made him highly respected.
"A half-human hybrid, eh? I wonder how she'd react with my potions…" Albert of the Potions coven exclaimed, checking the colour of a potion in a flask.
Unlike the others, Lord Albert was completely engrossed in his research and loved to make random potions, even during the meeting. Some were funny or harmless, others were literal pandemics in a bottle.
Emperor Belos immediately turned towards him. "You are not allowed to use any of your experimental potions on my offspring."
"All of my potions are experimental."
Just then, the healing specialist Lady Gertrude slammed her hand on the table, halting the conversation. "Alright, that's enough! As much as I enjoy each of us have a turn talking and introducing ourselves, we're getting off-topic."
"Thank you, Lord Durin." Gertrude said. "Anyway, Emperor Belos has agreed on taking care of the child Luz. Unfortunately, we know full well he probably delegated it to Kikimora, who in turn delegated it to some other poor witch."
"Kikimora would do no such thing. I have my full trust in her." Belos praised.
"You already gave it to her and she gave it to someone else, didn't you?" she asked. His lack of response made her pinch the bridge between her eyes and sharply hiss. "Am I the only one here truly worried about the consequence of having a half-human child on the Boiling Isles?"
"What consequence?" the esteemed Jenkins asked.
Suddenly, a loud explosion occurred, shaking the entire complex. Instantly, all coven leaders and the emperor turned their heads out to the windows and saw smoke coming out from the walls. From underneath the mask, Emperor Belos's eyes widened.
Several minutes before detonation, Lilith was staring intently at the little girl, nervous and unsure. At the same time, Luz was also staring back, her eyes all starry and wide and full of expectations. The raven woman couldn't comprehend what she was looking at.
This Luz girl was nothing like the emperor. He, who would stare any witch down from atop his throne, who made them beg for mercy like the trash they were just for existing, who ruled the entirety of the Boiling Isles with an iron fist.
And then there was Luz with her oddly round ears and big eyes. She probably couldn't even hurt a fly. In fact, the fly was more likely to hurt her than anything else.
"I like your hair." Little Luz said.
Lilith blinked. "… Uh, thanks. My hairdresser hates it." She couldn't help having very puffy morning hair. It wasn't her fault. Straightening herself, Lilith walked towards the little girl. "So… what is it that usually do?"
"I like to watch TV but I don't think you have one." Luz answered. "I also like books. Mom said I'm a fast reader!"
Lilith's eyes widened, followed by a smile. "Ah yes, books! Some common ground! Let's see what my lord Emperor Belos has in his personal library."
Looking around, Lilith walked up to a large shelf filled to the brim with old tomes of various sizes. Some looked so old and dusty, she was sure they existed before she was born. While there might be some laws regarding touching personal property, Lilith was convinced that the emperor wouldn't mind, especially when involving his daughter.
Daughter… That still felt weird to say. Lilith shuddered at the thought.
"Let's see here… 'Magical Numerology 101', 'Basics of Engineering for Dummies', 'Everything You Need To Know About Dimensional Magic'— Oh I remember Edalyn having a copy." She exclaimed before continuing.
After a minute of searching, she realized that none of the books was suitable for children, especially the one Lady Kikimora provided.
"Oh, you know what? I'm just going to tell you a story!" Lilith bitterly said, disappointed at failing.
Luz clapped with cheer. "Yay! I like stories too!"
Lilith strolled back to Luz and sat down on the floor right in front of her. With a twirl of her finger, several blue lights appeared in the air, puppets for her show. Luz looked up in awe.
"Once upon a time, before you were born, stood an ancient Titan with unimaginable magical powers. One day, the Titan fell and from its dying body, birthed the Boiling Isles. The Titan's magic was so potent that all creatures evolved to either use magic or resist them."
The blue energy combined and transformed into a rough model of the isles, the Titan's knee bent upwards like a mountain.
"From that day on, came the Savage Ages, a period of disorder and barbarism. The skies would lit in flames and witches would commit all manner of cruel atrocities to fellow witches. Innocents would hide behind walls and in towns but even those could not keep them safe."
Suddenly, the illusion changed into a familiar mask, albeit blueish in colour.
"But then came Emperor Belos, your f-f-father." Lilith accidentally stuttered. "Claiming that he could hear the Titan's voice, he declared himself its sole ruler and with the help of nine powerful witches, conquered the Boiling Isles. This is what established the nine coven system."
The energy broke apart into ten pieces, each shaping into the symbols of a coven. Nine main covens, all circling one particular: hers.
"Under his rule, he brought peace and order onto a once-chaotic world. Till today, the citizens of the isles owe him for all he's done. None can match up to him. He is the one and only Emperor Belos."
Putting her hands down, the blue lights dispersed and the spell was finished. Lilith breathed out calmly. "And that is the general history of the Boiling Isles."
Lilith turned to her only audience member and found her staring, awestruck. Slowly, little Luz clapped hard and steadily, her speed increased. Luz then stood up and jumped in joy, cheering loudly. "WOOO! THAT WAS SO COOL! HOW DID YOU DO THOSE LIGHT THINGS?!"
Lilith blushed but then smiled in delight. "Well, I'm glad you liked it. All I did was perform a simple light spell, though the shaping process can be somewhat advanced."
"Spell? Like magic?!" Luz asked giddily.
"Well, yes! You are Emperor Belos's daughter. I assume you can do magic as well?"
Luz nodded, before quickly looking down with a sad expression, one hand clutching her other arm. "I did it once but mom got mad at me. She said I shouldn't do it in front of people."
The super talented Emperor Belos's spouse was against magic? What kind of witch would be like that? Did Emperor Belos somehow made love with an anti-magic witch or worse, a demon?! That would explain her round ears... No! Bad Lilith! Such thoughts were equal to high treason!
"W-well, your mother isn't here now. Why don't you try?" Lilith gently coaxed.
"Okay..." Trembling, Luz twirled her tiny fingers around in the air as Lilith did. However, there was no light. No magic. "I-It's not working!"
"Magic is... It's more than just waving your hands around. You have to will it. Know what spell you want to cast." The raven lady explained. "Tell me; what do you want?"
Luz wasn't sure what she wanted. Her eyes shifted around and spotted her glitter-covered cutouts. She grinned. "I want to shine like a star!"
"Good! Now focus on that! Pull that image in!" Upon hearing Lilith's words, Luz focused as much as her underdeveloped brain could muster. She began to feel the strain and slowly, a small white glow appeared on the tip of her fingers.
Focus on the image. A bright star. A powerful star. A shining star.
Then everything blew up.
Meanwhile, Kikimora slept soundly in her bed. She shuddered.
"Okay, what was that?!"
"We're under attack!"
"Let me at 'em! Let me at 'em!"
Rubble broke off the tower and fell from above. Before it could crash into the ground, large vines appeared and caught them in mid-air. At the same time, a gigantic sludge abomination rose from beneath, absorbing the broken stones.
Lord Bastille chuckled inward. "My, my, I almost caught up to you, Lady Gerheade. You must be going rusty..."
The old plant lady grunted. "Still faster than your abominations, Bastille."
Within the chamber, Emperor Belos continued to stare at the smoke billowing above. For a brief moment, his eyes glowed blue before disappearing. He then raised a hand, something the other coven leaders noticed.
"Lady Sierra, I require a steed." Belos spoke.
The Beast Keeping coven leader silently nodded and placed two fingers in her mouth. With a deep breath, she let out a high-pitched whistle, the sound reaching the forests outside. The trees bristled and from the deep leaves, hundreds of tiny wyverns appeared, led by a large majestic griffon.
Belos leapt and landed straight on the griffon flying nearby, standing on its back. The wyverns all circled the griffon, protecting it from harm while the rest grabbed any soldiers and pulling them out of harm's way.
As he flew upwards, he saw a small blur falling among the rocks and a larger blur jumping from stone to stone after it. He could sense magic from the second one: body-strengthening magic. But the surrounding ambient magic from the blast was different than this person.
Once he got close, he summoned his mechanical-looking staff, nothing like the traditional wooden staff most witches used. A metallic wing flipped upwards at the top end, where an electrifying red orb floated by its side.
With a snap of his finger, all the falling rocks and rubble, small and large, including the two blurs, glowed crimson and immediately stopped moving.
"Lilith Clawthorne." Emperor Belos announced as he got closer to the second blur. There, Lilith was covered by a translucent red glow, her limbs frozen. "Starting your first day with a bang, I see?"
"E-Emperor Belos! I c-can explain—!"
"Hush now. I have seen enough and what a disappointment this has been. Such a simple task that any witch could've done and even you failed. I had such high expectations of you."
He stretched his hand to her face. "Some punishment is in order..."
"NO! IT'S NOT HER FAULT!"
From below, he heard a voice shout out at him. Belos looked down and saw his newly-discovered daughter, large tears falling from her eyes. She could not move and yet, her eyes did not cease flowing.
"She didn't do anything! Miss Lilith was teaching me magic! I blew up the castle, not her!" The 6-year-old cried out.
Belos's eyes widened. "Magic? You can use..."
He knew Luz had a bile sac much like any other witch. But it was so small that, despite Lady Gertrude's assurances, he did not place any hope of it changing. Luz was not a witch but she wasn't completely human. And there was more to magic than just a single organ.
Flicking his finger down, the human and the female witch shot downwards only to halt at the bottom, while the rest of the castle descended slowly. His griffon followed suit, landing on the ground safely. He turned to Lilith and Luz, both safe and unharmed.
"I demand an explanation."
Immediately, Luz began crying.
Several minutes later, Luz was fast asleep. Intense tear-jerking emotions plus action-packed explosions were a tiring combination for a 6-year-old, human or witch. By some miracle, no one was injured, all thanks to the quick response of the coven leaders.
Kikimora was pissed and that wasn't even an exaggeration. She left Lilith for less than 10 minutes and woke up to find the castle in pieces. Worse was the fact that Lilith was actually picked by her, not the emperor. Emperor Belos simply allowed her to use his name when picking a sitter. So this was partially her own fault, much to her dismay.
Lilith was by far not the youngest member of the Emperor's Coven but due to her unique position, she at least thought that Lilith could handle a small child.
"Are you angry at me, your Greatness?" Kikimora asked. She was calm, ready to accept any punishment.
Instead, Emperor Belos sighed on his throne. "I am disappointed but not angry. I trust your judgement in deciding a suitable caretaker during my absence and from her history, Lilith Clawthorne has shown to be quite exceptional. Outside of her inconvenient habit, that is."
He then raised his head, turning to his aide. "Now tell me; what does Lady Gertrude have to report?"
Kikimora nodded and with a spell circle, summoned a small scroll. "Upon closer inspection, Lady Gertrude has concluded that the enzymes within Luz's bile sac were far more potent than what is considered average. She did not see it earlier due to the relatively quick inspection. So while she does produce less than most witches, her spells are far stronger."
Less number of spells in exchange for more powerful magic? That sounded almost like him. Emperor Belos was genetically superior to other witches. His spells were naturally more powerful and he could easily blast any witch into oblivion, albeit with some side effects. Those were a secret that only he was aware of.
Traditionally, a smaller bile sac equated to weaker spells. Emperor Belos was an exception and from the looks of it, so was Luz.
Well, this was a problem.
"Ideally, my daughter would be best suited to attend school in order to safely harness her magical powers. Unfortunately, I cannot have her existence to be public knowledge. At least not yet." He then turned to Kikimora and asked. "What course of action do you recommend, Kikimora?"
The red witch's eyes widened. She scratched her head, thinking. "You could have her attend under a different alias—"
"She's 6. Children her age are unable to lie, else they die."
"—or have her privately taught by the Emperor's Coven."
Oh, now that's a thought. The Emperor's Coven was the strongest and most influential coven on the Boiling Isles. Each member was the best of the best, though still far below himself. Luz could learn a lot under the tutelage of the world's greatest witches.
"Interesting..." Belos muttered, scratching his chin. "I will keep that option open."
Suddenly, the side door of the throne room burst open, revealing a panicked Lilith, her hair sticking out of place. "M-my lord!"
"Ah, Lilith. I was about to discuss with Kikimora regarding your situation. Due to recent findings, we've decided to abstain from punishing you. I hope this was a valuable lesson to—"
"I apologize for interrupting you, my lord, but Lady Gertrude has requested your presence in the medical room immediately!" She gulped. "It's about the other coven leaders."
Meanwhile at the infirmary, the cyclops Gertrude was pushing her fellow coven heads away with a chair.
"Back! Back, I tell you! I will break your bones, fix them up and break them again if I have to!" she shouted, glaring with her one eye. As other coven leaders all skittered closer, they'd retreat only when the chair blocked them.
"Oh come now, Lady Gertrude." Albert argued, pouring a single drop of an unknown chemical into a filled flask, changing its colour. "I'm sure I could be of assistance. This potion will make her bones glow in the dark. Wouldn't that help?"
"Yeah! And I could lend her a chimaera egg! Kids like demons these days, right?" Sierra added, carrying a large polka-dot egg above her head.
Gertrude pointed at them angrily. "No, and no." She then turned to the smiling creepy Lord Weiss. "And what's your excuse?"
Mirror in hand, he shrugged. "Honestly, I just want to stare at her as she slept."
As if floating, Emperor Belos speedily glided across the hall and towards the medical room, stopping abruptly behind them. He scowled beneath his mask. "What is the meaning of this?!"
"Ah, Emperor Belos!" Gertrude greeted happily, followed by glaring at her peers. "I've done a full medical checkup on dear Luz when these savages appeared and were adamant at looking at the poor girl."
"Well, it can't be helped." Bastille said, towering above everyone. "We are all curious about the young girl. She is, after all, half of you, oh emperor. And you don't seem to have any particular idea of what to do."
"Thank you, Lord Durin."
Belos felt his head boil. Even though he was the strongest and most amazing witch on the Boiling Isles, there was a reason why these nine witches in front led the main nine covens. He'd never have been able to become emperor without them.
Out of nowhere, an idea struck.
"To my credit, I've made plans for her already. Since I deem she would be in constant harm outside of the sanctity of the Emperor's Coven, I will personally act as her tutor for the duration of her stay, with Lilith as my assistant."
Kikimora and Lilith both gasped. "She'll what?!" "I will?!"
"Yes, I will teach Luz all she can about magic. But if you are interested in the well-being of my daughter, you can direct your attention to Lilith. She will decide if your presence is acceptable."
Far behind, the Oracle coven's own Lord Jenkins coughed. "Hahklazyboneshmm." From the wall, a fleshy arm appeared and slapped him. "Oww!"
"Now then, since her future is now secured—" His eyes glowed. "I suggest that you all leave."
For a few seconds, only silence filled the air. No one dared to breathe. Such unnatural quietness, something only Emperor Belos could produce.
"... Achoo!" Weiss sneezed.
He rubbed his nose. "Hrk, well, now I'm bored. I guess I'll be visiting little Luz later then. Ciao, bellas!" Via a spell circle, a cyan ring of light manifested around his feet and rose, his body disappearing within.
One by one, each of the coven leaders left with the exception of Lady Gertrude, Emperor Belos and his two underlings. The cyclops healer sighed, exhausted.
"Hah, glad that's done. Though, are you sure you want to handle your daughter's education personally? It's a lot of work."
"No need to worry, Lady Gertrude. I am fully capable of handling it." He then turned slightly around. "For the time being, Lilith here may return to her station. Details of the new arrangement will be given later."
Kikimora bowed. "Then I shall show her the way, your Greatness. Come, miss Lilith."
Belos watched as the two walked away and once they disappeared from view, he turned back to his old co-worker. "Is... Is Luz well?"
Gertrude smiled. "She is but she's sleeping at the moment. If you want, you can come in and check on her yourself."
He wanted that, didn't he? He wasn't sure. Instead, he moved away. "No, let her rest. A long day awaits her tomorrow. It'd be unwise to interrupt."
Before he could leave, however, Gertrude grabbed his arm and refused to let go. Emperor Belos turned around, only to see her frown.
"Belos, I know you're not ready for this but really, no parent ever is." She exclaimed, not using his title. "Even if she not awake right now, I'm sure she'd love for her father to be there when she does. Just give it time. You'll learn to get used to it."
Harshly, he pulled his arm back, away from her grasp. She could not see it but his hands trembled at the thought. Arguments shot all over the place in his mind, his only opponent being himself.
In the end, he seceded and sighed. "I... I guess I can stay for a minute or so... if that's what you believe is best."
Gertrude smiled and opened the door for him. Right on the other side, the 6-year-old Luz slept in peace. Only her head was exposed, the rest underneath the blankets. Not a single sound escaped her, just the air from her lungs.
Quietly, Belos pulled a chair and sat right beside her. This was the first time he actually got a good look at her. She was so small and fragile. To think that she possessed such incredible power.
Despite the hesitance, he lifted his hand up and gently caressed the little girl's face. He didn't know what to do either than wait but this felt right.
In her sleep, Luz smiled and his old withered heart beat once for the first time in many years.