Author note: the story starts in chapter 1. The prologue introduces the MC and explains his background. Feel free to skip it if you are not interested, but as the author, I recommend reading it.
*"He is alive! I did it! I managed to save your boy's life."* (please, remember that * means words that Derek is not capable of understanding.)
After the midwife triumphantly said those words, the room exploded in cheers and tears of joy. The people in the room were hugging each other and the mother in turns.
Meanwhile, Derek lied limp in the midwife's arms, looking left and right trying to determine how bad his current situation was.
'Well, well, well. What do we have here? The bedridden woman is clearly this body's mother. She definitely needs a bath.' After delivery, the sheets were stained with blood, urine, and feces.
'The crying, rough-looking man should be the father. I wonder if he is crying for my sake or just because he was afraid of losing his wife. I bet the second one. It's likely for me to have an older sibling. This doesn't bode well.'
Suddenly, another woman entered the bedroom bringing with her a little boy and a girl who raced to the bedridden woman.
'Oh dammit! This is even worse than I thought. So far, I only have two possible choices. Option one, grow into this large family, fighting every day for the few available resources. Malnourishment is most definitely a given.
'Then, when I am old enough, I would be forced to work with my relatives, get married, and have children. Option two, wait until I am tall enough to grab sharp objects, put an end to my misery, and take another spin at reincarnation, hoping for a better outcome. I think I'll go with option number two.'
While Derek was thinking, the room had become quieter. The midwife had already finished cleaning the newborn and had wrapped him up in a clean cloth. During all that time, Derek neither moved nor cried.
*"Nana, what's wrong with the baby? Why is he not crying? It has never happened before!"* The mother was so worried that she ignored the pain and tried to get up.
*"Shush child! Don't you dare move. I still have to heal you."* The midwife's tone did not leave space for a reply. *"I've delivered dozens of children. A silent one is rare but nothing special. Do you want to see how strong he is? There you go!"*
She unwrapped him from the cloth, and while holding him gently, she gave Derek a little spanking to make him cry.
Derek grunted a little while staring at her in dismay.
'Do you want to play rough, old hag?' He thought. 'Fine! You just triggered my trap card! Twin Flood, activate!' Derek relieved both his bowels and bladder onto the midwife.
The backdoor attackers splattered all over her feet, while the front door flood struck her on the face and chest.
Derek started giggling loudly.
*"Well, this wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but as you can hear for yourself, this little imp is breathing just fine."* The midwife handed the baby to another woman to clean him.
Derek kept giggling, proud of his work. After washing her face with warm water and a cloth, the old hag moved her left index finger drawing a circle in the air, striking it through in the middle from right to left. Then she pronounced a single word.
A black energy manifested on her fingertip. She proceeded to point it over her wet dress and then over her shoes. The smell of feces and urine suddenly disappeared along with their source.
With his mouth agape in shock, Derek watched as his poop dried and crumbled, turning into dust. It was akin to watching one of those fast-forwarded videos where in one minute you could see a seed becoming a flower.
'Heisenberg's beard! She is not just an old midwife! She is a real magician, in the flesh! I have never been so happy in my whole three lives to be dead wrong'
Derek was ecstatic, and not only because this world had magic, but also because as soon as he heard the word Ekidu, he had felt something clicking inside of him.
As if something deep inside of him had started taking root, and suddenly he had become ingrained in the very fabric of his new reality.
He started obsessively repeating the magic word in his mind, and tried to engrave every detail of the circular finger movement in his memory.
*"Now that I'm clean, let me stop that bleeding, dear."* The healer approached the mother and placed her hands above her nether regions.
'Is it time for more magic? Show me, please!' Derek begged in his mind.
Nana first spread her fingers wide then started to move both arms in a circular motion, first up over her head. Then she opened her arms as much as she could before joining her hands, palm against backhand, at her navel's height.
Despite being all wrapped up, Derek tried to mimic all of her movements, step after step, memorizing every single detail he could grasp, no matter how small.
A sphere of light enveloped Derek's mother's lower body and she quickly recovered her complexion. The pale skin reverted to a healthy pink, while all the traces of pain and fatigue disappeared from her face.
Once again, something clicked inside him. After the dark magic, he could clearly feel that simply by hearing the power word, a connection had been established between him and light magic. Derek could not stop grinning.
'If, and I say if I have enough magical talent, it would mean there is actually a third hidden option." He thought. 'I can become a magician and live free for the first time in my life! No shackles, no responsibilities! But it's better not to get overenthusiastic. With my luck I could just have poor talent or…'
His reasoning was abruptly interrupted when the woman who had held him until that moment, handed him to his mother.
*"Nana, are you sure he is all right? He has yet to cry, or giggle. He is too quiet. With all that has happened, I'm really afraid that something is wrong with him."*
After those words, the room turned gloomy. Afraid of being somewhat responsible for the change of mood, and quite eager to explore option number three, Derek did his best baby impression. He giggled, smiled, and emitted raspberry sounds.
Such allegations hurt Nana's professional pride, but it wasn't her first time with an anxious mother.
She knew Elina since she was still a child, and had delivered all her babies. Nana could not deny that this delivery had been one of the most difficult in her career.
The labor had lasted hours and she had been forced to cast healing spells multiple times to stop the bleeding. When she finally could see the baby's head, she knew something was wrong.
Elina was fighting with all of her strength but the baby was limp. So, Nana had rushed and used her hands to pull out the baby as fast as she could, only to discover that he was being strangled by his own umbilical cord.
After cutting and removing it, Nana had tried all of her best spells, but to no avail. For a long terrible minute, Nana had believed the child was lost.
But then the healing light had finally activated, forcing the baby to puke, clearing his airway. Then and only then could Nana afford the luxury of relaxing.
Healing magic was no miracle. It could enhance the life force of the patient, making it easier for them to recover from an illness or heal from an injury, but it could not create life.
Nana was sensitive, so she understood that Elina didn't need a lesson about magic. She just wanted to be reassured about her child's health.
*"Worry not, my child. I can prove to you that all is well."*
Nana caressed Elina's cheek while smiling warmly and took Derek from her arms, removing the cloth as if she was revealing a treasure.
Nana carefully adjusted Derek in the crook of her left arm, then she circled her open right hand around him and said:
"Vinire Rad Tu!"
A small wisp of light came out of her palm, dancing around the baby before penetrating his chest.
The light spread from head to toe, making him emit a dim light.
*"See? If there was even a scratch on his body, my injury detecting spell would leave that area bleak. Your little sun is fine."*
The energy flowing through his body was making Derek feel empowered. During his old life, he had felt like that only a few times.
When he got his degrees, when he finally abandoned his parent's home, when he beat up the bullies. But all those times it had been a fleeting emotion, lasting a few seconds at best.
Now it was different, it wasn't just adrenaline. Real magic, real power was coursing through every fiber of his being, making him feel invincible.
So, when the spell started fading away, he could not accept that.
'No! Come back to me! Give me my power back!' Derek thought.
He focused on the last strands of energy, willing for them to stay. He could not cast the spell on his own, but he could still feel the lingering power and started feeding it with his own.
Derek's light stopped dimming and instead grew stronger and stronger.
Nana was dumbfounded. She had never seen anything like that before. That was not how the spell was supposed to work.
Derek wanted it to last forever, but a second later he fell asleep due to mana exhaustion, and the light disappeared quickly.
Nana wrapped up the baby again and returned him to his mother's embrace.
*"Nana, what was that?*" Elina asked full of wonder.
The old healer had no idea how to answer. Many possibilities popped up in her head, and all of them would require long explanations that would needlessly make Elina worry and maybe even force Nana to repeat the spell.
It had been a long day and she had no intention of prolonging it even a second more than necessary, so she borrowed a line from her childhood's favorite fairy tale.
*"My child, I think the new-born may be blessed by the light. There is no need to worry, only to rejoice."*