It was dawn.
It was well before the sun rose, and the sky remained slightly dark. Without a cloud in sight, the stars shone brightly. It seemed the weather would be pleasant today.
Shiron detached a string from his necklace. This simple bead-like item, void of any distinct decorations, served well as his inventory.
However, this was not just a simple bead but a holy relic. He couldn’t recall its name since it was deemed worthless, but he didn’t forget it had uses beyond just storing items.
In ‘Reincarnated Sword Saint’, each holy relic could be utilized according to its unique effects. Additionally, players could integrate these effects into their characters. For instance, since this relic could be used as an inventory, disassembling and then enhancing it could potentially expand the player’s inventory slots.
‘Disassembling and enhancing. Now that it’s detached, what’s important is the next step…’
Shiron glanced at the shriveled jewel and sighed deeply.
Disassembling was straightforward: simply separate the core, the jewel, from the relic. But he was unsure about the crucial step of ‘enhancement’.
Should he be thankful he at least had some idea? Shiron decided to trust his intuition.
‘…I hope this won’t backfire later.’
Encia’s lemonade was meant to be drunk, and tearing Ophilia’s circlet improved accuracy. There was only one logical conclusion from that.
After gazing at the jewel for a long while, Shiron, as if determined, closed his eyes and placed the jewel into his mouth.
He swallowed after taking a sip of water and rolling the jewel in his mouth a few times.
He was worried he might choke, but fortunately, that was an unfounded concern.
‘Even if my character is filled with death flags, dying like this would be crossing the line.’
Shiron chuckled lightly as he began preparing to leave.
The three children who were to participate in the Succession Ceremony woke up on their own and approached the castle gate.
“Let’s do well together, Shiron oppa!”
Siriel, dressed in light activewear, sauntered over to Shiron and greeted him.
She regretted not having a chance to speak much with Shiron yesterday as she was engrossed in conversation with Lucia.
Truthfully, approaching a male cousin two years her senior was somewhat daunting. Shiron, who often chewed his meat without speaking and wore a stern expression, seemed perpetually irritated.
However, today, Shiron seemed slightly less fierce than before.
“Alright, you too, stay strong.”
‘Oppa, huh. A term I’ve never heard addressed to me in my life.’
Shiron glanced at the radiant Siriel before responding, surprised she took the initiative to approach and greet him first.
‘What could have possibly happened in 10 years that made such a bright child like her become so aggressive against Shiron?’
He was even surprised that Siriel was this cheerful of a kid to begin with.
To Shiron, Siriel seemed like an isolated island of a person. She never let anyone in, and he remembered struggling to raise her affection level when playing as Lucia.
“Shiron, are you feeling alright? You look pale.”
Lucia, who was beside Siriel, approached him. Her hair was tied back, and the ponytail suited her. At Lucia’s words, Siriel also examined Shiron’s face in concern.
His face was pale, with cold sweat forming on his skin.
“……Should we inform the elders?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m just a bit nervous. Let’s hurry to the main gate.”
Yet, Shiron brushed off their worries and took the lead. Today was the crucial juncture of the Succession Ceremony. Shiron walked, holding back the urge to vomit.
Perhaps because it was the day of the Succession Ceremony, the mansion’s interior and the path to the main gate were deserted.
And then, after a few moments, they arrived at the main gate.
At that place, several maids and Yuma awaited to guide the children.
“You’re all here.”
Yuma, dressed in a black dress, appeared somewhat unfamiliar. Unlike usual, she wasn’t showing her usual warm smile, making her appear more emotionless and calm.
“There’s one thing I need to inform you of before the ceremony.”
The chief overseer of the Succession Ceremony, Yuma, the guardian of the sanctuary, looked down at the children as she spoke.
“You cannot wear any weapons, jewelry, or other items infused with magic. If you’re wearing any, please hand them to us.”
She specifically looked at Shiron as she spoke.
However, the necklace that Shiron had been wearing these past few days was nowhere to be seen. He shrugged off Yuma’s gaze.
Lucia and Shiron handed over nothing, but Siriel extended the blue ribbon she had tied in her hair.
A maid standing next to Yuma, who was wearing a blindfold, politely took the ribbon. She examined the ribbon briefly before speaking to Yuma.
“Alright. Let’s proceed.”
At Yuma’s gesture, the maids by the castle gate opened the door.
The gate opened with a grinding noise.
It seemed as though frost had formed during the night as bits of ice attached to the crevices of the gate dropped to the ground. Shortly after, the castle gates fully opened.
Yuma led the way, with the children following closely behind.
The Lake of Beginning, where the Succession Ceremony would take place, was located beyond the western mountains of Dawn Castle.
Upon reaching the lake, Lucia’s eyes widened in astonishment.
And for good reason. The lake, nestled between mountain ranges, remained unchanged through the passage of time, evoking faded memories.
‘This is where I first met Yura.’
Lucia stood still, gazing at the lake. The flow of the mountain range surrounding the lake looked just as she remembered.
‘I never thought the place for the Succession Ceremony would be here.’
Lucia gritted her teeth. Maybe it’s because she had turned into a child, but she found herself more emotional lately, she joked to herself.
Everything had started here.
Lucia looked at the distant lake shore. Her vague memories slowly became clearer.
Far off by the lake shore, a child squatted, throwing a stone. It was Kyrie from her childhood. And there, approaching her with a smiling face, was Yura offering a sword, her image rising like a mirage…
But the apparition quickly faded due to someone’s interruption.
“This is where the founder of Prient, Lady Kyrie, received the holy sword from the messenger of God.”
Siriel’s eyes sparkled, evidently thrilled to be at the place from the stories.
“May I ask a question?”
Lucia clenched her fist and raised her arm.
“…When you say the messenger of God, are you referring to an angel?”
“Yes. Exactly. The founder, Lady Kyrie, received a ‘revelation’ here. And that legacy has been passed down to every Prient since. It’s the reason why the Succession Ceremony has been conducted here for the past 500 years.”
“Then, I will explain the Succession Ceremony.”
Yuma spoke, looking at the children.
“The criteria for passing are simple. From now on, you will be crossing that lake one by one.”
Yuma turned around and pointed to the frozen lake.
The morning sunlight made the icy granules on the lake glisten. Beyond the lake, there was a gathering of people.
Despite the distance, the clear weather made it easy to see.
Notably, Hugo, Johan, and Berta stood apart from the rest.
The line of figures consisted of maids who were absent from the mansion.
They were all spectators for the Succession Ceremony.
At that moment, Siriel suddenly raised her hand.
“I have a question.”
“Please, go ahead.”
“Is it over just by crossing the lake?”
“Yes. The lake is fully covered with thick ice. But mysteriously, only those with special qualities can cross it.”
“What happens to those who cannot cross?”
“They lose their eligibility to contend for the position of the head of the family. However, don’t worry. Even if the ice breaks and one sinks into the lake, there will be no significant issues.”
Yuma said, glancing at Shiron.
Shiron nodded in response to Yuma.
“Using magic, one can be retrieved from the water. Now, we need to decide the order.”
“May I go first?”
Lucia stepped forward and said, then sneaked a glance at Shiron behind her.
“You go ahead first.”
With Shiron’s permission, Lucia took a deep breath. Yuma stepped aside to let her pass.
Walking confidently, Lucia reached the sandy shore and placed her foot on the lake’s ice.
Having her full weight on it, Lucia moved forward without hesitation.
‘…Is this all there is?’
It was… much easier than expected.
Reaching about halfway across the lake, Lucia bent one knee and tapped the ice with her hand.
She hit it with force and even tried to make a mark using her finger’s strength.
But the ice was so thick that no water leaked out.
‘What in the world… This wasn’t here back in the day.’
The lake in her memory seemed the same, but everything else was completely different.
500 years ago, tribes living near the lake would break the ice to catch fish and sustain their livelihood. However, there was no sign of human habitation since she came here. Lucia brushed her hands off and continued across the lake.
Upon safely arriving, Lucia was warmly greeted by Hugo and the maid.
“Such bravery. Pausing midway to tap on the lake.”
Hugo spoke to her with a satisfied smile, patting Lucia’s shoulder.
“It wasn’t a big deal, really.”
Lucia replied to Hugo while slapping her cheeks lightly. Being praised for merely crossing a lake made her feel like she was being treated like a child.
‘Is Siriel next?’
Lucia turned to see the spot she had crossed.
From afar, she could see Siriel cautiously making her way across.
A little later, Siriel, having crossed the lake, immediately sat down as soon as she reached the shore.
“Ah, I was so nervous.”
“Siriel did well too. So now, only Shiron remains.”
“He looked unwell this morning.”
Siriel dusted the sand off her pants and stood beside Lucia.
The three of them looked at Shiron in the distance.
Shiron began walking.
With a splash, Shiron disappeared.
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