Author's note: I'm not dead, just depressed. My other story isn't getting much traction even though I put so much effort on it and had like the worst burn-out ever. I actually finished most of this by then but it took a bit to continue. I didn't even know how to end it.
So yeah, sorry about the rant. Just needed to vent a bit.
Inside the infirmary of the Emperor's Coven, the great and powerful Emperor Belos was reading a book. Nearby, his daughter Luz was drawing on a notebook.
After the 6-year-old half-witch accidentally blew up his private chambers, some major repairs had to be done, mostly on the tower walls. During the rebuilding process, Emperor Belos had an ingenious idea — build a new room right next to his as Luz's permanent residence. That way, she actually had a place to stay instead of a hobo's sleeping bag.
Then came a problem: actually designing the place. Now, he trusted Lord Durin and his craftsmanship. He was, after all, the best builder on the Boiling Isles. However, the dwarf of a witch had pretty hefty charges. Plus, Emperor Belos wanted only the best of the best for his flesh and blood, so he spared no expense.
He decided to place the bill on the Emperor's Coven. Needless to say but Lilith fainted after seeing so many zeroes.
So while the new accommodations were being built, little Luz would stay in the infirmary temporarily with Lady Gertrude watching over her. The Healing Coven head had her own reasons for staying, related to the human-witch physiology. Also, Luz was not allowed to leave without the lady's permission. Nobody wanted another explosive incident.
"Hmm..." Belos hummed as he flipped a page. It was the tome recommended by Kikimora, initially for Lilith. While technically unsuitable for taking care of Luz, he had to admit; Kikimora had a good taste with literature.
Luz also hummed, though to the beat of an unknown song.
Luz looked up. "Hmm?"
"Would you like to see some magic?"
Luz began vibrating. "YeeeeEEEEEAAAAAAA—!"
A few minutes later, Lady Gertrude appeared in the hall, carrying a pair of clean bedsheets. She came not only to check on Luz's condition but also to replace the used sheets. It's important that the bed was neat and tidy, especially in the infirmary. Gertrude was no stranger in microbiology.
"Miss Luz, may I come in? I'm just here to clean up the room." Gertrude asked from outside. Hearing no response, she assumed that Luz was sleeping and quietly, opened the door.
What she expected was Luz being a little angel and Emperor Belos watching over her like a good father figure. What she didn't expect was an empty room and an open window.
"… That son of a TITAN'S WH—!"
It was a beautiful day on the Boiling Isles. The sun was shining, no clouds in the sky and for once, the water wasn't corrosive. It was a sign from the Titan and Emperor Belos gladly accepted its offer. On days like this, it wasn't hard to find an empty and secure clearing to train one's magic, away from prying eyes. After all, a safe environment was tantamount in the learning method. That why schools existed.
Emperor Belos and by association, Luz, were both riding on top of a grotesque worm thing with little bat wings. Despite its tiny appendages, the creature easily flew through the air like a dragon with its two passengers above. Though, said creature was not a demon. In fact, it was one of Emperor Belos's magnificent abominations, unlike anything the world had ever seen.
Why was Emperor Belos and Luz riding a fleshy abomination, you ask? The answer: Emperor Belos could not fly, at least traditionally. Witches would usually fly on their staves to get anywhere but those long sticks weren't the reason for their flight; it was the palismans, something he didn't possess.
A palisman was a magical totem perched atop of a witch's staff. Individually carved, it was a mark of a true witch and any good magic-user had one. In the olden days of the Savage Ages, palismans and their staves were acquired by entering a dangerous and mystical forest and grabbing a piece of wood from one of many ancient trees. The witches would then carve it by hand and should they fail, it was another death-defying trip to grab another. Not all witches back then had a palisman and those that did were truly great.
Nowadays, the risks were far less. Instead of a life-threatening adventure through some woods, witches were given safe passage upon graduation from magic schools and were allowed to choose which tree they'd take the wood from. Different types of wood reacted differently, depending on the witch's magic. Heck, witches even attended woodcarving classes.
Emperor Belos was an odd one. While he owned a staff, he lacked the palisman on top. A wooden staff without a palisman was nothing but a big stick which was why he fixed a machine of his own design atop. Though, Belos wasn't bothered. He was still the most powerful witch on the Boiling Isles. He didn't need a palisman to prove it.
After landing safely on the ground, Belos willed the abomination to erase itself. No need to waste magic keeping it around. The worm thing immediately melted into a puddle of liquid flesh and bones before evaporating into thin air. Luz cringed in disgust.
"Behold! Welcome the training grounds." Belos announced, his arms open wide.
Little Luz looked around, turning left and right. The place was just an empty clearing with nothing in particular. There were no grass or flowers within while trees bordered the area like a natural wall.
"Daughter, I brought you here not only to show you magic but to teach you as well. But before we begin, we must first attend the theories regarding magic. Truly the most exciting lesson of all."
He then looked downwards at his little girl. "Now, what do you know about magic?" the masked father asked.
Luz blinked. "Boom."
"Well, that's a start." He exclaimed. "In its simplest form, casting a spell simply requires you to think about the spell and draw a circle. Basic rule of magic is that the larger the circle, the stronger the spell. However, you and I are a completely different case."
He lifted his hand up, grasping the air as if the world was within his palm. "Our magic is far more powerful and potent that the use of traditional circles is irrelevant to us. A dot technically counts as a circle, albeit infinitesimally small with a radius of zero. You shall learn to cast spells in a similar manner."
A small red dot glowed on the tip of his finger and from it, the emblems of the nine main covens appeared, bouncing in mid-air. It was similar to how Lilith showed her, just a different colour.
"Spells are divided into nine main forms which the nine main covens were based on: Healing, Illusion, Abomination, Plant, Oracle, Construction, Beast Keeping, Potions and Bard. Any other coven is simply a branch of the main ones, such as the Baking Coven is to Potions."
Luz gasped. "You can make cakes with magic?!"
"Well, yes but actually no. There are two categories of magic: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic uses your own reserves while extrinsic uses other mediums. Most covens used a mix of both."
He then turned to the half-witch. "So in truth, baking a cake with magic still requires ingredients."
"Okay!" Luz happily said, giving a little thumbs up.
Belos stared at the girl and her response. "… Did you actually understand any of that, at all?"
Luz frowned dejectedly. "No..."
Well, he didn't expect that. To her credit, she did listen to him, word by word. It just so happened that she didn't know what half of those words meant. She just wanted to know whether one could bake a cake with a wave of a hand.
So far, she still had no idea.
Emperor Belos, on the other hand, had a different problem. He purposely dumbed down the explanation and avoided any of the complicated details, and yet Luz looked as if she could disappear any moment. Mentally, that was. She wouldn't actually just phase out of existence. If she could, he would be very worried. Nonetheless, he wondered; was this not the curriculum that 6-year-olds studied at preschool?
Thinking back, Emperor Belos realized he never went to school either. That was a thing.
"While it is against every fibre of my being, we'll just have to skip the theory for now." Belos sighed in disappointment. Formally educated or not, nobody ever appreciated the theories behind magic. Sure, you don't need to know it to cast spells but it's still very interesting.
With a wave of a hand, several targets made of mud popped out of the ground. Elemental magic was not part of any coven; it was simply something anyone could do like levitation. A good place to begin. He then turned back to his daughter. "Now then, I want you to cast a fire spell and incinerate one of the targets."
Luz's eyes widened. "You want me to do magic?!"
He nodded. "Yes. A fire spell is fairly simple."
"W-well, how do I do that?"
"Just do what you did last time but with fire."
"How do I do that?"
"That... is a good question." Belos exclaimed. It shouldn't be hard to learn basic magic. It's what everyone on the Boiling Isles used.
But Luz wasn't from the Boiling Isles. One or two times wouldn't cement itself. This was a skill and while children could copy their parents, Luz had no such experience. Her spell didn't just backfire because it had too much power; she also had an idea what she did.
"Hmm... Tell me, how did you learn to do magic before? Lilith was in the room, yes?" Belos asked.
Luz nodded, before twiddling her fingers. "Yeah b-but promise you won't be mad at her!"
"My anger has subsided. She is in no harm." Belos waved off. He would not hold such petty grudges against a small witch. "Now, tell me."
"Well... miss Lilith told me to imagine stuff and don't stop. I did some circles, my finger twinkled and I blew up."
"Is that all?" He asked to be sure. Luz hesitantly nodded.
Now that was curious. She willed the spell into existence without actually casting it. The magic within her body responded to her thoughts but due to lack of training, had no idea what to form.
"Can you repeat the process?" He asked once more.
Little Luz gulped. "B-but what if I blow up again?!"
With a wave of a hand, his staff materialized into existence, activating itself. "I assure you, it will not happen."
His words brought her ease and so, Luz turned to the mud targets afar and pointed. She still felt scared, as expected after such a traumatizing event. But there was a feeling of safety in the back of her mind, carried by her father's presence.
Belos placed a hand on her shoulder. "Now focus."
And so she did. All she needed was an image. This was a fire spell so that meant fire, right? Barbeques in the park, the stove in her home kitchen and campfires when they went camping during the summer; those were fire.
She and her mom never saw eye to eye when about magic but she still missed her cooking.
A small white light blipped to life at the tip of her finger. It flickered unstably, beaming and dimming in a random pattern. White static discharged from the light — small but noticeable.
Emperor Belos's eyes glowed.
Slowly, the pulsing light calmed and stopped flickering. Little Luz glared at the target and with a final push, the light glowed brightly before transforming into a large fireball. It flew through the air and landed on the ground, missing the targets entirely. However, the force of the explosion was so strong, the targets all broke into pieces anyway.
Luz breathed heavily, followed by a large smile. Her hands started flapping as she jumped in joy. "I-I did it! I really did it!"
"Indeed, you did. Not only did you successfully cast a fire spell, but you also destroyed all the targets. As expected of my blood." Belos praised, though with a subtle one to himself.
Suddenly, two arms wrapped around his legs, startling the Boiling Isles ruler. He looked down, finding the little girl pushing herself into his knees.
"Thanks. You're the best." Luz said, burying her face in him.
Under his mask, heat crept up his face. This feeling was... familiar. His hands trembled. "Ah. Yes, of course. I am, ahem, after all, Emperor Belos." With a finger, he poked the top of her head, causing Luz to hug tighter.
"You are very affectionate..." He said, pushing her head even harder. Still, she refused to let go.
"What does that mean?"
Belos stared at her. "It means you like hugs."
Luz gasped, followed by a squeal. "Mom said it's my best trait!"
"Well, I am able to understand why at the very least." With a wave of a hand, he resummoned the abomination from before into the realm of the living. "Now come. Let us head back."
"We're not going to do more magic?" Luz asked in a curious tone.
Belos figuratively shook his head. "Unfortunately, no. It is not best to rush when dealing with the mystic arts. Also, I am very much sure Gertrude is not keen on us leaving her watchful eye."
It wasn't the whole truth. Back when Luz used her magic, Emperor Belos had noticed her magic was not flowing correctly. To avoid another catastrophe, he was forced to use his own power to redirect her flow of magic to her fingertips. What he didn't expect was that it took quite a lot out of him to do so. Such wild and uncontrollable magic. At that very moment, he realized that Luz, his daughter, had the potential to become even stronger than him.
That made him proud but also somewhat scared.
"Ms Gertrude is really nice." Luz exclaimed. "I like her!"
"Yes, she is indeed the most trustworthy of all the coven leaders."
"We should get her something. Oh!" Luz then ran to the edge of the clearing and picked something from the ground. "Like this rock! I can put stars on it!"
"She will like that." Belos said.
"It'll be super pretty! Maybe other shapes too, like leaves and turtles!"
"Hmph..." So the turtles still existed? Such resilient creatures, even after being banished from the Boiling Isles thousands of years ago. He wondered if the giraffes still interacted with them.
In an odd decision, Luz looked at her father quizzically. "Do you want one too?"
Underneath his mask, Belos's eyes widened. Luz would gift him, the all-powerful ruler of the Boiling Isles, a rock? Not a powerful artefact, or the head of a wanted criminal, or even just a precious gem; just a basic everyday rock. Had it been any other witch, he would've personally tortured them for such an insulting offering.
However, this was Luz.
He hummed. "If that is what you wish, then I shall accept. It would be rude to refuse."
The little girl smiled. "Then I'll get two rocks."
And so she did. Once they got home, Luz spent the day glueing paper shapes on the rocks. Lady Gertrude would then return to the infirmary and yell at them, but immediately stopped once Luz gave her the dressed-up stone. She tried to hide it but Emperor Belos was sure Lady Gertrude had shed tears.
Emperor Belos, with all of his grace and majesty, would receive the prettiest rock with the biggest star, of course. He was, after all, the greatest and most amazing Emperor Belos.