“How were your lessons today, honey?” I ventured. I knew I needed to at least try to connect with her.
“Ms. Lampry wanted to teach me a maths lesson I’d already learned three years ago,” my daughter, Celeste, said dronely. Her dense, curly hair was tied in a loose bun on the top of her head, and her dark brown skin was covered in a layer of ash. What had she been getting into?
“I’m sorry, honey, I’ll talk to her about updating your curriculum. I’m sorry you had to sit through that,” I offered.
“I didn’t have to sit through it,” Celeste laughed. “I sent her away. I read a book by Dean Constance about the principles of illusion magic instead. Fascinating stuff.”
“Celeste,” I scolded. “I wish you would stop wasting your time with magic. You’re such a smart girl.”
“I know I’m smart, dad,” Celeste snapped. “I’m on track to be one of the youngest published magic researchers in the history of Arcana University.”
“But you’re not a student, honey. And you never can be,” I reminded her.
“You think I don’t know that?” Celeste said more sternly, standing up at her seat. “I know that they’d never let me in the school. They’re worried I’d ruin all of their irreplaceable artefacts with my condition. But I have to try. I love magic. I want to do this.”
Celeste has the unfortunate curse of constantly producing an anti-magic field. She dispells any magic around her and nullifies magic held within items. It is very inconvenient. We had to outfit the entire house with magic shields just to have the most basic magic appliances. And even then we have to make sure she’s careful. If her hand so much as brushes the fire crystal in our oven, we have to buy a new one. I always feel so sorry for her.
“I know you do. I just want you to have a fulfilling life. I worry that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment,” I explained.
“I have every intention of having a fulfilling life, dad. You just have to let me live it,” Celeste countered. I wished I could be on her side in these arguments. The fire in her eyes reminds me so much of her mother.
“I’m sure you could do a correspondence course with Arcana University. You could do magic calculations or something. You don’t have to touch magic items to do the math. You’re so good at math. Even if they don’t have a course like that, I’m sure they’d create one. For you,” I said, offering an olive branch.
“You mean you’ll buy my way in. You know I don’t like relying on our name or your money. I also would hope that if you’d go against my wishes, you would want more for me than a maths degree,” Celeste complained. She was being so very unreasonable. I felt the crystal in my pocket vibrate. I resisted the urge to check it and failed. My hand pulled it out of my pocket.
“What is it now?” Celeste asked.
“I’m sorry, honey, something came up at the factory. I’m going to have to go take care of this,” I apologized.
“Of course you do. We almost had a whole conversation,” Celeste grumbled.
“You know this isn’t about you, honey,” I explained.
“It never is,” she said under her breath.
I released a heavy sigh and walked out of the dining room. I hated that she felt this way. Her mother would have known what to do. She was always so good with Celeste.
“Sir,” my butler called after me before I could get out of the door.
“Yes, Raymond, what is it? I’m in a bit of a hurry,” I explained.
“It’s about Celeste,” he began. I could feel my jaw clenching. “She asked me for a list of supplies to restock her lab.”
“Yes, just buy her whatever she needs. You know that,” I said, exasperated.
“That’s just it, sir. I was able to acquire almost everything. She wanted a small supply of concentrated essence of illusion magic. I was wondering if you might know where I could go to procure some for her.”
“I’ll take care of it,” I said, unsure of whether I actually would or not. I would have to think about it.
Honestly, that girl tries my nerves. She thinks she can have whatever she wants. It’s my fault, of course. I do give her whatever she wants. She must know how hard it is to acquire any illusion essence, much less concentrated. With the recent events in Yokuatsu, the illusion market has been really clogged. I would have to go out of my way to get her this. I walked out the door racking my brain, when I realized that I should be wasting brain space for this. I had people to do that for me. I pulled the crystal back out of my pocket and swiped the sigil to call the manager of the factory.
“Yes, sir.” he answered the phone immediately. “I’m trying to take care of the incident, but I can only do so much. We really need your expertise.”
“Yes, I’m on my way,” I reassured him. “I’m not actually calling about that. Do we have any concentrated illusion essence in storage?”
“Let me check,” he said. I could hear him rustling through papers. “No, it looks like the only concentrated illusion essence we have is in the supply cloak producer.”
Damn. I guess we’ll have to let our competitors see our comings and goings for a couple weeks.
“Could you have an employee remove that and run it to my manor? Address it to Celeste,” I instructed.
“If you’re sure, sir,” he said apprehensively. “I’m sure,” I said. If I couldn’t promise Celeste the life she wants, I could at least let her do her little experiments.
These stories serve as inspiration for the upcoming short story collection, Tyranny of the Fey. The collection will be released in Fall 2023. You can get a $1 preview now!