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8 Black Star [2]

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"——The match has concluded! The victor is Aoife Kell Megrail."

Wooo——!

The crowd erupted in cheers. Their cheers rained down on the platform where an expressionless figure stood.

She held the spotlight, captivating all with her presence.

Cascading down her back, her red hair complemented the most striking feature—her yellow pupils.

...Aoife Kell Megrail.

The future Black Star, and one of the most promising new entrants at Haven.

Faced with the cheers, Aoife simply disregarded them and stared down at her opponent, Jordana. A promising knight of the family.

"... Disappointing."

Her cold voice descended on the young girl, passing down her evaluation of her.

Jordana lowered her head in shame.

"I apologize."

"Don't be."

Aoife extended her hand, which Jordana took.

"This was the expected outcome."

"I tried my best, but it seems like even I am not your opponent. I'm afraid that with your current strength, you won't find a single opponent in your age group. Not even in Haven."

"..."

Aoife had no words of rebuttal.

It was the hard truth of the matter.

Her talent, coupled with the gap in years she had to practice made her someone who was on a level that the regular cadets couldn't reach.

That was what she believed, and everyone else believed.

So then,

『Letter of Admission』

We congratulate Cadet Aoife Kell Megrail for their admission to the Haven Institute.

We are proud and delighted to have you join us in our program.

It is with great honor that we invite you to join us.

■ [Cadet Rank : 3]

『Letter of Admission』

"Third rank?"

What sort of situation was this?

"...Is there a mistake?"

When she confronted her cousin about it, Atlas, his response to her was a clear-cut,

"No."

Casually flipping through the pages of the book in his hand, he didn't even spare her a glance.

"There are two cadets that we deemed to be more talented than you."

lightsΝοvel

"More talented? Then... me?"

For the first time in a considerable while, Aoife's composed expression faltered. She opened her mouth, but the words refused to leave it.

As though something was stuck, all she could do was move her mouth.

That was until,

"Julien Dacre Evenus."

She received a name.

One that she deeply engraved in her mind.

"He's the Black Star."

And.

"The one we deem to be more fitting of the role than you."

***

"....Speech, huh."

I looked at the letter in front of me. It was given to me this morning by a member of the Haven Institute staff.

It went on to say: "Congratulations on your admission to Haven. We're proud to announce your entry to the institute..."

It was a long letter.

But the key important points were,

"Black Star, and speech."

A week had passed since the examination had taken place. I was now a lot more knowledgeable about my situation.

Therefore,

".....Hah."

I knew exactly what 'The Black Star' symbolized.

It symbolized excellence and perfection. A goal for the other cadets to follow. All of which I wasn't.

I extended my hand and a faint purple magic circle formed.

Tzz——

It shattered within seconds of me activating it.

"Still nothing..."

There was magic in this world. That was a fact I was made aware of quite early on. And apparently, I was talented at curse magic.

Julien that was.

Me...?

"Seems like you've still not figured out how to properly use mana."

I continued to stare at my hand and ignored the voice that reached me from the end of the room.

I concentrated all my attention on my hand.

A warm current flushed from the center of my abdomen. One that I guided until the very tips of my fingers.

In my mind, a vivid image took shape, and peculiar runes hung in the air, gradually arranging themselves within the purple circle that hovered above my fingertips.

Almost...

Sweat formed on my forehead.

It trickled down my nose.

Stopping at the tip.

The runes set themselves within the circle. A faint glow surfaced on its edges.

Yes... A little more...

I was close.

I could feel it.

I was...

Tzz——

"Ah."

The circle shattered.

All the progress disappeared in an instant.lightsnovel

∎| [Hands of malady] EXP + 0.01%

It wasn't an unexpected outcome. It had been like this for the entire week.

But.

"...It's frustrating."

Trying over and over and over again, with little to no progression.

I thought that with enough time and practice, I'd see some improvement, but in the week that I started practicing, the only result I received was failure.

Drip...

Something wet trickled down from my nose.

I used my sleeve to wipe it. Only for it to be stained in red.

That was when I realized.

"Blood..."

"You're overworking yourself."

Finally, I looked up. There, standing by the entrance of the door to my room was Leon. His grey eyes were as intense as ever.

"You're trying to learn curse magic, right? So that you wouldn't look suspicious when the time comes."

"...Right."

No, not really.

It was part of the reason. But it was mainly because learning any other magic would prove to be too hard of a task for me.

The current me that was.

"Here you go.

Leon walked up to me to hand me a piece of paper.

"This is the speech I prepared for you. You won't have to worry about practicing it because it's pretty straightforward. Plus... Nobody will suspect a thing if you say it exactly as it's written."

"I see."

I reached out to take it when he pulled back. I was taken aback.

"...What are you doing?"

"On second thought, I'll give it to you later."

"Hm?"

He pointed at my nose.

"Clean yourself up. You're in no state to think about the speech."

"Ah."

Right.

I reached for the nearest tissue to clean up my nose. It was still leaking blood. As expected, I had been practicing a little too hard.

Leon stood quietly beside me.

Closely observing me.

That was until,

"I'll take my leave. We'll meet before the speech."

He decided to leave.

"Wait. The speech...!"

He left before I had the chance to ask him for the paper.

"...Shit."

I stuffed a tissue up my nose.

"He's still wary of me."

In the week I spent with Leon, he always seemed on edge around me. I knew exactly why he was like that, and I took full advantage of it.

"I don't have much time."

But I knew that I couldn't keep the facade for much longer.

It wouldn't take too long for him to understand that he could kill me with a thought. That was why I was so desperate for progression.

Only through power would I be able to keep myself alive.

"...I should go."

I checked my watch.

It was almost time for me to give my speech. It wasn't as though I was nervous. I was far from it.

But.

"What then...?"

My goal was to find answers. And despite a week having passed, the only thing I managed to gain was even more questions.

This was indeed the world of 'Rise of the Three Calamities'.

Although I had never played the game, the situation became clear to me after experiencing the world for the past week.

In the week, I continuously thought about leaving this place.

The vision that preceded my arrival here depicted me getting killed by a long blade, with three women in pursuit.

Was the vision the Julien of the future, or was it me of the future...?

Even if it was, how long did I have before Leon killed me?

"...Regardless of the outcome, it seems like every move I make leads to my death."

For such a future, wasn't the appropriate answer to just run away? Leave this place. Surely, I'd be able to live a good life if I did.

"...As if."

The thought of not knowing why I was here seemed to eat at me more than my desire to live.

I guess, having already died once, I placed less importance on my life than the truth.

"That's not all..."

My eyes wandered back to my arm.

Turning it, a four-leaved clover entered my sight.

"..."

One of the leaves lit up.

A feeling of dread welled up within the depths of my mind as my gaze remained fixed on the leaf. It was the same leaf from last time.

It reminded me of the time during the examination.

The leaf was the reason why I was able to become the Black Star.

I still didn't know what it did.

By the time I woke up the next day, it had lit up again. I hadn't touched it since. The lingering aftereffects of the situation were still affecting me. Was my mind even capable of withstanding such intense emotions again...?

I wasn't quite sure.

But if there was one thing that I knew...

"Emotions."

Anger, sadness, joy, love, surprise, fear...

"...I won't be consumed."

Rustle——

I donned a black blazer and black leather gloves to hide the wounds on my hands. Making sure that it all fit, I proceeded to head out of the door.

Not now, not ever.