This is a fic for the "canon divergence" part of my Retired Leaders AU, and it takes place years in the past.
Belos has been strangely absent for the last few days.
Throughout those days, several scouts and captains have approached Kikimora to ask whether she knew his whereabouts, only to receive a similarly confused response. She told them that he asked not to be disturbed last time she saw him. And for a while, she stayed away.
But eventually her curiosity got the better of her, and she went to check on him. Having lived in the castle for about two years now and having spent a significant amount of time by Belos’s side, earning his trust, she knew where to look, and she was allowed to do it, too.
Other members of the Emperor’s Coven were only permitted to enter Belos’s living quarters when they were ordered to do so by the man himself, in part due to his efforts to keep his identity secret even from them, however, Kikimora was allowed to simply come in.
She knocked on the door to the Emperor’s room and awaited a response. But after a few moments of silence, she used her magic to unlock it herself. Once she was inside, she locked the door again - Belos has requested that she always do so when she enters. She looked around the somewhat dark room, but the Emperor was nowhere to be seen.
She then turned her attention to the half-open door to an adjacent chamber that could only be accessed through the one she was currently in. She quickly made her way to its entrance and peeked inside.
And there he was.
She saw Belos sitting on the floor, unmasked, with his long wavy hair draped over his shoulders and his head hung as if in mourning. A cocoon-shaped object wrapped in a blanket was resting in his arms, held by him in a way that could only be described as.. fatherly.
And right as the tiny teenage demon was about to voice her concern over the Emperor’s evident sorrow, she gasped, her eyes widened and her ears perked up as she realized that the cocoon in the old man’s arms had a face. A pale, round face of a sleeping newborn witch.
“Is that.. a child?” - Kiki asked quietly, but with a clear tone of surprise.
Belos’s eyelids fluttered for a brief moment as he looked up at her and let out a confused “huh?”. He hesitated to respond, pondering the explanation for this strange scene Kiki has stumbled upon.
“..Yes. He is all that is left of my family” - he finally replied.
Kiki approached him as he spoke.
“Your family?” - she glanced up at him with a questioning gaze. - “You never mentioned them before”
Their eyes met for a second or two. Seeing the obvious curiosity in Kiki’s intent stare, Belos wordlessly looked away to escape prolonged eye contact and allow himself to think. For a few moments he remained silent, seemingly unsure how to respond.
“Well..” - he hesitated. - “..We didn’t have the most.. friendly relationship, so I chose to avoid bringing them up. I didn’t want you to deal with our family drama” - he looked down at the floor. - “But they’re all gone now”
The more he spoke, the clearer the sorrow in his voice became, and Kiki stroked his arm in an attempt to comfort him.
“And what about him?” - she asked, pointing at the sleeping child. - “What’s his name?”
Belos turned his head to the newborn, but gave no answer, staring at the baby’s face with an absent gaze and his eyes nearly closed, as if in deep thought. Kiki patiently awaited his response, but the longer he gave none, the more confused she became. She knit her brows and tilted her head, wondering why such a simple question was so difficult for Belos to answer.
But at last, his eyelids lifted and his gaze became focused.
“Hunter” - he uttered. - “His name is Hunter”
“Am I allowed to play with him when he gets older?” - Kiki looked at the Emperor with a hopeful spark in her eyes.
The question seemed unexpected to him, and he glanced at her with an uncertain and somewhat confused expression. But after a few moments, it changed into one of endearment as his eyelids lowered and the corners of his lips perked up in a tired smile.
“Of course” - he responded softly. But then his smile quickly faded. - “However, I order that you do not inform anyone else of his existence. Until I say otherwise, it shall remain a secret. Do you understand?”
“Yes, my liege” - Kiki nodded.
“Good” - Belos straightened his back.
“Do you need any help with Hunter?” - Kiki asked.
“I will call you if I ever require assistance” - Belos replied as he stood up. - “But for now, you could be much more useful if you continued your training instead”
“I understand” - Kiki bowed to him and headed to the door.
“I will see you again soon” - Belos said as she exited the chamber.
Please reblog my writing, likes don't boost visibility. And feedback is also appreciated.
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OKAY. MESSY THEORY TIME CUZ LIKE my brain is workinggggg right now. puzzle pieces are being puzzle-pieced together. elaborate thoughts are being elaborately THUNK. so bear with me-
(toh spoilers warning)
so apparently, the two brothers were both "lured into a realm of evil by a witch"
ONE OF THE BROTHERS was philip (and POSSIBLY belos), that we do know. the other one? he had a bird, kinda similar to a red cardinal, and oh, looked exactly like hunter.
when you look at cravats and the overall outfits, then the dude who looks like hunter (the nose, the face shape, the tuft of hair) IS the dude with the bird, who in turn looks like hunter's palisman. SO philip's brother was most likely li'l rascal's original owner
now, as for PHILIP, the dude DOES kinda look like belos????? the nose, the hair, the hair tuft, the jaw shape, the Suspiciously Small Ear... Yeah?? ig???
so if belos IS philip (cuz he surely ain't the other one based on just his features) then it's possible that sth happened to his brother and THAT's what made him averse to wild magic (or that there was some drama inbetween, sth happened, yadda yadda, the curse, who knows, etc. final effect the same)
(the only thing that makes me hmmm about specifically belos being philip is cuz their voice actors are different. so?? is it just what philip sounds like in his "journal videos" but didn't sound like that irl, or did his voice/body change over the years, or did he body-swap, or is belos NOT philip? or is he partly philip? or is he just Related to philip, similarly as hunter is related to philip’s brother? well, we'll see)
been also wondering if maybe philip's brother was amongst his companions who didn't make it out of eclipse lake cuz of fool's blood, esp since precisely One of philip's companions had the exact same shoes as him..... but hmm dunno feels like he'd be more dramatic abt the accident in the journal if his brother had died (even though he never writes abt the fact that he even HAS a brother which is.. ok, sus), or (if he’s belos) he would be more careful abt hunter going there, and also that’s not rly enough of a “wild magic catastrophe” that’d make him HATE it, y’know? (or maybe, if it HAD happened like this, philip’s brother made it through one of the eclipse lake’s portals in time?? who tf knows)
SO ANYWAY, it's possible that hunter is either
1) a descendant of the brother, or even the brother’s son (if the human had managed to live that long, somehow?? but that'd explain the "uncle" title of belos, if he’s philip), which would make him part-human, WHICH would explain perfectly why he can't do natural magic;
OR 2) it's possible that hunter rly IS a clone, except not belos' but the brother's. but how would that work? and would that rly make hunter a grimwalker? AND how would that work with the “witchy ears but a clone of a human” situation? (unless the ears are pointy just cuz he is a grimwalker/made of magic, like maybe it’s a characteristic trait just like his pink/red eyes. and then maybe he doesn’t have magic cuz he’s still like. a clone of a Human, or cuz grimwalkers just don’t have it, or cuz sth went wrong with galderstones while making him????) (also ADDITION but one of the listed ingredients for a grimwalker is a “bone of ortet.” the definition of ortet goes as follows: “the original plant from which the members of a clone have descended, created through rooted cuttings, grafting, or tissue culture” which is basically a botanical term but. it sure DOES sound like, in this case, bone of the original individual’s (AKA philip’s brother’s) could be somehow used to create their clone (AKA hunter). just... a Possibility)
aaand yeah, then there's also the question of WHY belos would do all that at all
because basically, we still don't know WHY belos needs hunter. he keeps saying that "the titan has big plans" for him and it'd be "such a hassle" to replace him. so. WHAT ARE THE PLANS?? what could they POSSIBLY be, like????? what is gonna happen on the day of unity?
if belos is philip, does he need his brother (OR just his clone/descendant) to do some kinda ritual on the day of unity? or does he want to bring back his brother, using hunter as a vessel? or???? literally WHAT does belos want with hunter????? get a JOB stay away from him
(also a BIG stretch but lol was wondering why the crows were circling specifically only philip's statue like that. so i googled it (for funsies) and apparently crows are a symbol of: transformation, life mysteries, magic, alchemy...... and lowkey the emperor's coven IS bird/crow-themed too so hm) (probably a coincidence tho lol)
but yea, no idea what happened to the brother lol. IF belos is philip, then narratively it'd make sense if sth happened with him and wild magic, that would make belos/philip start hating it. but also the portal WORKED and there are their statues in the human realm and a book abt them going to the realm so maybe he just left for good? except then why didn't philip? and then how did the curse come to being? like what HAPPENED (we don’t know, we don’t have enough info)
SO LIKE. THERE'S..... LOTS of context we're missing so this is all taken from scraps and will only start making sense once we get more hints but like njxkjjkxs i dunno man, i'm looking i'm thinking i am thinking 👀👀
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