Iva’s eyes quivered widely. The words alone exuded danger. Yet, without dark magic, the black light couldn’t be explained.
It was as if a black snake had coiled tightly around her heart, a darkness that felt like it could explode her heart at any moment.
“Am I going to die?”
“No, dark magic doesn’t kill immediately.”
“I understand that dark magic slowly strangles life, leading to death. The magic in your body, Iva, seems to be a spell that reverses time.”
As expected, it coincided precisely with Iva’s speculation. She truly was regressing due to magic.
“So that’s why I kept coming back.”
“Were you aware?”
“…Yeah. A little.”
“You’re incredible. Dark magic is known to deceive people. It’s powerful but infiltrates quietly. That’s why many are affected by it.”
Medi approached with a curious expression, scrutinizing the magic circle from various angles.
“Oh. I’m just checking because this is my first time dealing with such a case. It seems like the target of this dark magic might not be you, Iva.”
“What does that mean?”
“Um… Ah! It might be a curse.”
Medi, after ensuring that nothing was wrong with the magic circle and contemplating a bit, seemed to have realized something.
It was distinct, the black light in my heart even if I was merely cursed.
“Rumor has it that dark magic can be transferred to another. People call it the curse of dark magic. But… I didn’t think it would be true.”
“Why would the curse be on me……?”
The black light was vivid, even though I was just cursed. Was the victim of the dark magic still alive? Who were they in the first place?
“They say a curse doesn’t transfer unless the victim of the dark magic thinks deeply about it.”
Iva tilted her head, still not quite understanding.
“Perhaps the victim of the dark magic harbors deep feelings towards you, Iva.”
“Are you talking about love?”
Medi hesitated, then shook his head.
“I can’t be certain. Some say that deep hatred can also transfer the dark magic.”
Upon hearing the word ‘hatred’, Iva became more composed. In her life, hatred seemed more plausible than love. She had died twice, after all.
“But, as I mentioned earlier, most stories about dark magic are mere rumors! Your case might be different, Iva-”
“Medi, it’s okay. I had anticipated this to some extent.”
Surprisingly, it was Iva who comforted Medi, offering a faint smile as if to reassure him.
Medi couldn’t assure her that someone’s hatred hadn’t brought about the curse. He wanted to help but had limitations. For the first time, he regretted not having amassed more knowledge.
“So, if I think deeply about someone else, could they also become cursed? No, right? I can’t pass it on, right?”
She almost pleaded for a denial.
“Yes, thankfully, there’s no chain reaction with curses.”
“Ah… that’s a relief, truly a relief.”
Iva, sincerely relieved, swept her hand across her chest.
Iva was wracked with fear at the thought that the curse might have extended even to her beloved parents, Jane, and the numerous servants.
“If that’s the case, they truly sacrificed because of me….”
While it was a relief that the curse didn’t transfer to others, it was not a fundamental solution.
In her previous life, every time Iva died, those dear to her died repeatedly as well. Ultimately, Iva could perceive people around her as being cursed and consequently miserable.
Visions of her parents and servants, and Jane, who had been sacrificed because of her, flashed before her eyes like a carousel. Those eyes, which were concerned only about her until their last breath at the execution, were something she could never forget.
“…This time, for sure.”
She felt tears on the brink, as regret and guilt threatened to overwhelm her. But she took a deep breath and clenched her jaw tightly to not cry. Crying would change nothing here.
She had to find out who cast the dark magic.
Iva slowly lifted her head, and now, her eyes were filled with a resolve to fight more than ever before.
“But how was the injury?”
“You screamed that I had a wound when I was in the magic circle.”
At that moment, when another person’s visage overlapped with Iva’s, a deep wound was visible on her neck.
“Ah, I saw the injury, but I also saw another person overlapping.”
“A woman with short, black hair and a small stature. She was definitely someone different from you, Iva, but she felt very much like you.”
The woman Medi described was her real self – her appearance from before she had been possessed in the novel. It felt as if time had warped, pooling her into a solitary stasis.
“Medi, can you tell how many times we’ve turned back the time?”
“Um… I don’t have an exact number. But from what I can tell, it seems it has passed at least four times.”
In her memories, living as Iva Blanche was the third time. But to have turned time even more than that…
Had time been reversing even before I possessed, and I only noticed the regression once I entered this body?
“Medi, is there any way to find out who cast the dark magic?”
“Wizards despise using dark magic because they have to risk their own lives as well as they cast curses. So usually, the physically weak are suspected.”
There was only one person around her who was frail and had been in Grace for a long time.
Julian Bergen Elihu.
“So, if we find the person who cast the dark magic, will it be resolved right away?”
“No, it’s not that simple. There are three ways to break the spell.”
Iva looked at Medi, pleading for a speedy explanation with her eyes.
“The first is for the person who cast the dark magic to undo it themselves.”
Medi extended her fingers, counting.
“The second is that it is lifted when the person who used the dark magic dies. But side effects from the curse can remain.”
It was not a perfect solution, and Iva didn’t want any side effects befalling her parents or Jane.
“The third way is to resolve it by going to the place where the dark magic originated.”
“So, the origin isn’t Grace?”
“Indeed, while various magics remain in Grace, it is not where dark magic originated.”
“Then where did dark magic begin?”
“The Fenet Empire.”
Bridget’s words before leaving the Bergen Empire surfaced in my mind.
“You’ll definitely come looking for me.”
Did he know about the curse that I was under? His words took on a different meaning.
“But if they used dark magic like this, there must have been physical signs. Enough to struggle even with Bleed herbs.”
Iva was unfamiliar with the herb Medi mentioned. After all, dark magic was never discussed in the original work.
“Yes. I’ve heard they’re essential for those who practice dark magic.”
“Thank you so much, Medi. I’ve learned a lot because of you.”
Julian was now the prime suspect. She needed to find out whether she was using those herbs.
“Not at all. You’re healing my sibling’s back. Besides, you said you’d offer employment, so I should be the thankful one.”
“Employment… Medi, would you consider working with me, not the Castello family?”
“With you, Iva?”
“Yes, I’d like you to stay by my side until my curse is lifted. The Blanche estate can certainly afford your salary.”
Medi kept saying his magic skills were lacking, but Iva couldn’t let a wizard she’d just met slip through her fingers.
“But Sir Ray asked first, and I don’t know how I could possibly decline…”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll talk to Ray. I can also arrange different accommodations for you and Mainy to ensure the dark magic doesn’t affect you.”
When the proposal to work together for the two houses was made, Medi blinked, his eyes whirling in surprise.
“May I have a little time to think it over?”
“Sure, of course. Shall we go find your lovely sibling now?”
As Iva began to lift her previously slumped body, a massive sway engulfed her.
It felt as if someone had tightly gripped her entire body, constricting even her breath.
“Miss Iva! Are you okay? Did you get hurt because of the magic circle?”
Startled, Medi quickly grasped Iva’s arm, steadying her to prevent a fall.
“Ah, no. I must have cramped up from sitting for so long. Can you hold me for a bit longer?”
Although Iva concealed her pain from Medi, her legs felt drained of strength, as if she might tumble over at any moment.
The two of them headed towards where Ray and Mainy were.
Medi thought he had identified all the curses on Iva’s body, but he was so shocked seeing another person through her that he failed to notice another curse.
A very small curse had slyly hidden in the shadow beneath Iva’s feet, barely managing to keep its presence undetected.
That tiny misfortune, gradually growing, engulfing Iva’s entire body, wasn’t too far from completely consuming her.