Chapter 2 – Starting again from that time?
Gradually, a dazzling light started to pierce through the darkness.
“This place is….?”
A space with a high ceiling made largely of white marble.
It was the great hall of the palace I was very familiar with.
Filling up the hall were a bunch of nobles in resplendent clothes.
Every single one of them was facing me.
“Then, we are about to start the Crest Divine Conferment Ceremony!”
When I turned towards the source of that well-projected voice, I saw a priest in a very colorful garb.
This is that day──
This was the scene of the day I received that dark symbol to the back of my hand that signified my possession of a Dark Crest.
To think I would remember this day as I was dying.
Is this because of the devil? Is the devil showing me this….?
“Although, I can see surprisingly clearly if that’s the case.”
My surroundings started chattering after my muttering.
I can hear them wondering about what I’ve said just now.
They can react to me?
Could it be that I returned to an earlier point in my life?
No, that’s just──
I tried to pinch my cheek.
I dropped my gaze to the mirror-like marble floor.
My slim younger face was reflected back at me.
….that can’t be right.
Did I really come back to that day?
The nobles followed my every move with curiosity.
Even though every single one of you will treat me like trash after this.
The priest stopped in front of me with a smile on his face.
“Prince Alec. You are the hope of our empire. You will receive a wonderful Crest for sure── A ‘Holy’ one without a doubt.”
A ‘Holy’ Crest, huh.
I don’t think anyone would think that I would get its direct opposite, a Dark Crest.
There are more than a thousand known types of Crests.
However, there are large categories they belong to, each signifying an attribute, which are Holy, Fire, Water, Lightning, Wind, Earth, No Attribute, and finally Dark.
These categories correspond to the attributes of spells as well.
The No Attribute type Crest is the only one that has nothing to do with magic, the other seven types are closely connected with the seven magic attributes.
For example, a Holy Crest will always give a blessing to some kind of Holy Magic.
In addition to that, something like a blessing for swordsmanship could be added as well.
The 【Sword Saint】 is one of those where Holy Magic and swordsmanship gets a boost in learning speed.
Commoners have a statistical disadvantage with getting rare Crests compared to nobles.
Blood relations and Crests are apparently closely related.
As an example of that, the imperial family and nobles tend to get Holy or other similarly powerful Crests, excluding Dark and No Attribute ones.
In contrast, commoners receive mostly No Attribute Crests.
As for the Dark Crests….those are really rare.
That being said, if rare is all they were, then there wouldn’t be a problem.
Those that receive a Dark Crest like I did all end up despised by everyone around them.
Even in history, there are countless examples of it happening.
And I’m about to receive that Dark Crest in a moment──
The priest started chanting.
“Gods in the highest heavens, listen to my plea…..Please confer your divine blessing to Alec Arnotes Luxia in the form of a Crest!”
A magic circle appeared below my feet.
That dark symbol will soon show up on the back of my hand.
The cursed Dark Crest.
There is nothing more known about the Dark Crests. What other Crest types can do can be deduced from the pictograms or ancient script that appears on the crest itself, but no Dark Crests were ever deciphered like that, so the details are unknown.
Wait just a minute.
If I really returned to an earlier point in my life, then──
By doing something different I may be able to get a different Crest.
I didn’t believe in the gods until now, but if things could change if I try to pray, then…..
I closed my eyes and kept repeating that I don’t want a Dark Crest. The God of Light, the God of Fire, the God of Water….I kept calling their name.
The voice of the priest could be heard.
“P-Prince Alec’s Crest is…..t-this is…!?”
────I don’t want a Dark Crest! I don’t want a Dark Crest! I don’t want a Dark Crest! I don’t want….
“────A Dark Crest!”
When I opened my eyes, I saw the expression of the priest, who was staring in open mouthed shock.
“──Huh? A D-dark Crest?”
Our surroundings went totally silent.
Well, as expected, it didn’t change from just a simple prayer….
On the back of my hand, a dark mark that almost feels reassuring by now appeared again.
Though, I can almost feel it saying: ‘I’m back’, like it’s coming home, which makes me a tad irritated.
After a few moments, the ruckus started.
“N-no way! A cursed Dark Crest!?”
“It’s the end of the Empire…..A Dark Crest appearing on a prince!”
“It’s no human at all! It must be a bastard of the Monster King!”
Just like that day, the nobles were clearly rejecting me with both their words and their expressions.
After this day, seeing all those nobles and their children turn their back on me, I could never trust another human any longer. I was even afraid to meet the eyes of others. It was the worst day of my life.
But, perhaps because this is the second time?
Perhaps because I expected this?
──I’m not that shocked about it this time.
Rather, their instant about-face feels comical instead.
This is how people really are.
Last time I hung my head in despair and ran away through the crowd.
Many may have given up on me only after seeing me do that. That led to people distancing themselves after this last time around.
Therefore, first and foremost, I need to try and maintain an optimistic attitude here.
“A Dark Crest, huh──kukukuh!”
I chuckled quietly.
The people around me were only chattering among themselves; no-one tried to get closer to me.
I even heard some of them saying that I must’ve gone mad.
Even so, this should still be better than moping around.
Meanwhile, the raised voice of another priest some distance away from me could be heard.
“…..【Saintess】! Yulis Iluria has a Holy Crest! She is the new owner of a 【Saintess】 Holy Crest!”
“Did he say 【Saintess】 just now!?”
The attention of the nobles was taken by the voice just like that.
During this Crest Divine Conferment Ceremony, every child of the imperial family and the highest ranking nobles who turn seven get their Crests at the same time. Apart from me, there are more than a dozen children who are scheduled to get their Crest today.
I also turned my gaze to the direction everyone was looking towards.
There stood a beautiful young girl with silver colored hair.
Her name was Yulis Iluria.
She is the daughter of Margrave Iluria, and my betrothed as well.
It happened when I was about six I guess.
I fell in love with Yulis at first sight, then went around and bragged to everyone that I would marry her in the future.
At the time, Margrave Iluria, Yulis’s father, managed to get the emperor and the great houses to recognize my words as a betrothal agreement.
With that Yulis ended up as my fiance regardless of what she wanted.
Even though I was just a child at the time, I still feel really bad about that.
Why would she want to marry someone she doesn’t even love and has a Crest like mine to boot?
“【Sage】…..Prince Ruivel has a 【Sage】 Crest!”
My younger half brother, Ruivel, also got his Crest next to me.
Until this year, he was scorned by others because of his low magic power, but….after getting his 【Sage】 Crest today, he will be praised to the high heavens by everyone around him.
His situation is the polar opposite of mine with the Dark Crest.
He will also keep pestering me after this day.
He kept showing off his magic and cohort to me in both the palace and school last time through. His cohort included the people who were friendly with me before this as well.
When I think about those bothersome days repeating themselves…..
….no no, none of that now.
I fell into a negative mindset again.
I don’t know why it happened, but it seems I was able to return to an earlier point in my life.
If that’s the case, then there is one thing I must do.
────Master Dark Magic.