After a few minutes, seeing that Shin had no progress in awakening his Spirit, the Shrine Maiden was baffled. By now, even if a child did not manage to find their Spirit, the amount of spiritual energy being supplied by the Shrine Maiden would at least trigger a response by the slumbering Spirit.
‘There’s no helping it…’
Seeing that continuing down this road was not progressing, the Shrine Maiden opted to take a different path.
‘Since he is the last one, I guess I would supply the remainder of my spiritual energy to him.’
Drastic times calls for drastic measures. The Shrine Maiden knew that continuing down this path would lead to nowhere and decided to change her approach.
“Shin, from now on I will be increasing the amount of spiritual energy being supplied to you. If you feel any discomfort, tell me immediately. I will cease the ceremony. Do you understand?”
Shocked, Shin immediately replied.
“Yes senior! I understand!”
“Good! I will begin right now.”
Saying that, the Shrine Maiden gathered much more spiritual energy than before. The torrent of energy was blinding to the outside eye but all Shin felt was a gradual increase of energy in his spiritual body. Shin did not have the knowledge to recognise it, but the Shrine Maiden was performing a high-level ability. The average Spirit User would not have that much control over his or her own spiritual energy. For instance, if it were the First Elder or the Clan Master performing the rites, Shin would have long exploded from spirit overload.
“What is Lien doing?”
“Is there something wrong with the awakening process?”
The Clan Master and First Elder both speculated on the possible change in the Shin’s awakening ceremony.
“Lien might overuse her spiritual power…”
Worried about her dear friend, the Clan Master commented on the situation.
“What’s going on?”
“The Shrine Maiden is increasing the amount of spiritual energy required for the ceremony!”
“Did something go wrong?”
The younger generation also noticed that there was a drastic change.
“Is Shin going to be alright?”
Even the twins could feel that something was amiss.
Meanwhile, Shin was still in the pitch black world looking for his Spirit, unaware of the commotion he had caused.
“Child, is there any discomfort?”
The Shrine Maiden’s voice echoed in Shin’s head.
“Not at all, senior!”
“Good. Now continue on with your search.”
Although he said that, Shin did not know where to begin. All he could see was pitch darkness.
‘How did the rest manage to find their Spirits? Or is mine just much more elusive?’
Shin asked himself. When Ariel awakened her Spirit, she took less than a minute to locate the slumbering Warhammer. Ella and Emma also took less than three minutes. But by Shin’s estimate, he should have been here for at least ten minutes.
“How is it, child? Any luck?”
The Shrine Maiden’s voice appeared once more.
“No senior, I don’t see…”
Before he could finish his sentence, a blue light appeared in the distance.
Worried that Shin stopped his sentence halfway, the Shrine Maiden called his name.
“No, I’m sorry. I see a blue light!”
“That’s great! Reach for it!”
Shin ran in the direction of the faint glow. However, no matter how far he ran, it seemed that the light was still the same distance away. As if it was running away from him.
‘What kind of Spirit runs away from its master?!’
Shin was exasperated.
“What’s the matter, child?”
“The Spirit seems to be running away from me!”
“What do you mean?”
Shin relayed his experience with the Shrine Maiden.
‘That’s strange, I never had this happen before. Maybe this child’s Spirit is exceedingly special…’
As the white-robed woman thought that, she sent a surge of spiritual energy into Shin. However, once exposed to the energy supplied by the Shrine Maiden, the blue light immediately evaded and ran further away.
‘Hmmm? The Spirit is afraid of the Shrine Maiden’s spiritual energy?’
Shin was baffled.
Seeing the reaction of his Spirit, Shin conjured up an idea.
“Senior, it seems that the Spirit does not like your spiritual power. With your energy enveloping me, it seems to avoid me like I’m the plague. If possible, could you sever your connection with my spiritual body? Maybe, I would be able to grasp my Spirit then.”
The Shrine Maiden was astonished. This was the first time a child had proposed that she cut her connection in awakening their Spirits.
“Are you sure child? If I do that, you will be on your own in awakening the Spirit. In doing so, you might not be able to awaken your Spirit. In fact, it might cause some damage to your soul.”
She tried to confirm Shin’s intention and at the same time, warn him about the possible repercussions of her severing the connection.
“But we have to try! There’s no use in amplifying the amount of spiritual energy if my Spirit keeps running away from it!”
Realising that Shin had a point, the Shrine Maiden sighed and offered a compromise.
“Alright. I will stop supplying spiritual energy. However, I will not sever the connection. I have to ensure your safety after all. The moment something goes awry, I will pull you out. Do you understand?”
The safety of the children was her utmost priority after all. There was no way the Shrine Maiden would let Shin continue on such a dangerous path alone.
Shin’s heart warmed as he realised her intentions. Many from the senior generation detested the orphans. But Shin could feel the genuine care the Shrine Maiden had for himself.
“I understand senior.”
“Okay. I will stop supplying spiritual energy now. From now on, please be careful. If there is something wrong, immediately call me, I will be here.”
As she said that, the spiritual energy that enveloped Shin started to dissipate.
Once the last ounce of energy left Shin, a feeling of desolation overcame Shin. He felt cold and alone. As if he was the only person that existed in the vast darkness.
‘I see… So that’s why the Shrine Maiden is required to assist in every Spirit Awakening Ceremony. If not, everyone will start to feel this way.’
Trying to avoid being overwhelmed by the desolate nature of his spiritual body, Shin willed himself towards the blue light in the distance. And as Shin surmised, the light stood still. In fact, Shin even felt it beckoning to him.
“Senior! It works, it stopped running!”
“Is that so…”
Shin excitedly told the Shrine Maiden.
‘Why is his Spirit so different?’
While she was happy that Shin would be able to conclude the awakening ceremony, it didn’t stop her from having questions about the nature of his Spirit.
Shin sauntered towards the blue light that remained stationary. He wanted to run, but the extreme cold of the darkness prevented him from accelerating from his current pace. All that Shin could do was maintain his speed as he desperately reached for his Spirit.
‘Damn it! Why is awakening my Spirit so cumbersome?’
Getting pissed at his Spirit, Shin cursed his current circumstance.
‘You had better be worth all the effort!’
Slowly but surely, Shin inched forward. Without the Shrine Maiden’s protection, he could feel his consciousness fading gradually. However, eventually, he reached his destination. What awaited him was neither a Spirit nor a light. But a large lake.