Six days ago, Asha found out that she had relatives other than her parents.
She was told when she got into the carriage to go to the palace.
She knew four days ago that one of her relatives was the Emperor, the one who her father was constantly swearing at, “He’s a crazy man, I wouldn’t even spit in his direction.“
She knew three days ago that the Emperor had expelled almost all his sons from the palace, and that he had Alexei, the only son of his eldest son, appointed as Crown Prince.
Two days ago, she found out that Alexei had signed a contract ten years ago with the Fire Spirit King, Fafnir, at the age of five years old, thus becoming the Crown Prince.
And it wasn’t until this morning that Asha was told that all of her cousins had already been training relentlessly for a decade or so in order to sign a precious spirit at the spirit ceremony.
The spirit ceremony that was scheduled to happen this morning!
‘This is all a lie, right?!’
Then, at that moment, Asha suddenly recalled a similar piece of work that she had seen in her previous life, well over a decade ago.
She couldn’t even remember its name now, whether it was a movie, a novel or a cartoon.
But the only reason that she had remembered her past memories of that piece of work was because she had reincarnated.
Asha also remembered seeing a few stories that were similar to that in such a novel.
But she didn’t think that she would be the main character of that said novel.
“I can’t even remember what the title of the movie or the novel was, but it’d be useful if I remember what will happen in the story!’
Asha held back her tears that were about to burst.
‘You called me Asha.
Asha! You called me Asha my whole life, yet you never bothered to tell me that my real name was Anastasia! Mom! Dad!’
You didn’t tell me I was that Anastasia, the Imperial granddaughter who lived like a poor commoner until she was ten years old, then after finally experiencing the first bit of sweetness in her life, immediately took the express route down the highway of despair and ruin!
‘What should I do? What do I do? What should I even do in this situation?’
All she had wanted to do in both her past and present life, was to bake cookies.
She had no time to bake in her last life.
All the money she had earned had been used to pay the living expenses of her younger brother and other family members.
Then in the end, the money she had saved up to open a store was used to pay for her younger brother’s games.
Afterwards, she was struggling to save up for the store again, and ended up falling asleep at the end of the night.
She had barely opened her eyes before she found herself in an old creaking crib.
Her hands were as immature and weak as a premature cub’s, and there was nothing she could see in sight.
A week passed by in a blur, but she still thought of it all as nothing but a dream.
It wasn’t until another week had gone by that she finally accepted the reality of the situation.
‘So it turns out I’ve reincarnated!’
The fact that she had actually died, and after reincarnating, would have to make a fresh start, was slowly accepted as reality during her stay in the crib.
The most important thing was that even after she had died and reincarnated, her dream was not wiped away or erased, and still remained the same.
Whilst adjusting to her new life in the crib, Asha reflected on her dream.
Asha didn’t know where she was in this new world, but she was greatly anticipating finally being able to do what she had always wanted to do.
However, even after she had turned ten, her wish still remained unfulfilled.
She had never even seen butter or sugar in this life.
And that was because her family was just that poor!
But until then, she had thought that that was all there was to her story.
It wasn’t until she was kidnapped by the Imperial guards and taken to the Imperial spirit ceremony, that she realised which desperately poor family she had reincarnated into!
‘Now, I finally know the reason why we were so poor.
If I’m Anastasia, an Imperial Gandchild, then my father must be Prince Yuriel… He had run out of the Imperial palace on his own feet, with nothing but the clothes on his back, so of course he had no money.’
Everyone in the Empire had a contract with a spirit when they were around ten years old.
The variety of abilities numbered as many as the citizens of the empire, however, it was still possible for commoners to gain the rarely obtained great power that would open up the door to success.
Because of that, every child who was in this period would experience some sort of nervousness and anticipation.
However, if someone signed a contract with a useless spirit, even aristocrats found it hard to be successful, let alone the case of the imperial family, where conditions were even stricter.
Depending on the spirit which you signed a contract with, if they signed with one of the superior spirits, they would become the next emperor, and if not, they would be kicked out of the palace.
There is only one way for the expelled imperial families to return to the palace, and that was for their children to catch the eye of the Emperor in today’s spirit ceremony.
Asha glanced at the small boy, who looked exceptionally weak among her cousins.
Some of them made extreme choices because they could not withstand the pressure their parents put on their shoulders.
Asha, stay calm.
There’s no way that’s gonna happen.
Asha denied it with all her might.
The following was what she had remembered from her past memories.
An ordinary girl with the power of vitality and stability, meets and falls in love with Alexei, an unstable but powerful Crown Prince of fire.
Naturally, there are a countless number of obstacles standing between the two of them, but they overcome them together, the strongest of which was the Crown Prince’s cousin, Anastasia.
Anastasia, who is allowed to stay in the palace due to a rare spirit she signed with at the spirit ceremony, comes back to bother Alexei and the female lead in every turn.
In addition to the right to succeed the throne, she also had a brilliant spirit in her hands, so there was nothing for her to be afraid of.
But it wasn’t stronger than Alexei, and in the end, Anastasia, the Imperial granddaughter, met a miserable end as a result of her own actions.
‘But I’m not that Anastasia, am I? We’re two different people.
So that’s why there’s no way it will end like that.
Also, there’s a possibility that it’s not the story I know.’
At that time, the sound of a cane hitting the floor rang out in the hall and broke Asha’s train of thought.
At the same time, two people entered the hall.
“His Majesty Mikhail, and the Crown Prince Alexei!”
It was the sound of the attendant’s shout that resonated through the hall.
As soon as she saw them, Asha turned her head away and swallowed her tears.
‘I was right…!’
It was the appearance of the Emperor and the Crown Prince.
Standing by him was a boy who looked around fifteen years old, who was looking down at the children in the middle of the hall, grinning with a mature smile that didn’t seem to match his age at all.
The boy’s blonde hair was as beautiful as the particles of a star and his blue eyes were like the clearest shard of glacial ice.
As soon as Asha saw them, she immediately knew that that was her grandfather, Emperor Mikhail, and her cousin Alexei, the Crown Prince.
Looking at the two of them, Asha thought that the original work she had seen might have been a movie, not a novel.
The reason being that the scene before her gave her a sense of deja vu, as if she had seen a video of it before.
“I knew it! I was right, I was right, what I read was right! But wow, why did she even think about fighting Alexei? He gives me the chills just by standing still.’
Are the people who have smiles on their faces, really smiling? Alexei, his eyes don’t soften at all.
‘No, that’s not right.
That could happen.
Imagine having carrot porridge and potato soup for ten years straight, then hearing that you’re an imperial grandchild for the first time.’
And if you were allowed to stay in the palace, that young kid might suddenly dream ambitiously…
“No, no, no, that isn’t important right now, rather, what should I do from now on…’
At that moment, the emperor shouted.
“Begin the spirit ceremony!”
[ / / / ]
Looking from above, everything adjacent to the south had melted down with the ash and rain and blended into the horizon.
And just above the horizon line, was the fresh snow that had just fallen the day before.
At that line’s boundary, a man sitting astride on a horse, stood on the border between a boy and a young man and looked down.
Black hair fluttered in the north’s cold wind.
Just above the pitch black hair, a bluish colour made an appearance.
The purple eyes below seemed to reflect the icy light of the snow field.
At this place, the war which had interrupted the eternal winter, and silenced the sound of the wind, was now over.
And the man who was riding a horse, who had just come to this snowfield, was the one who had ended this war with his own two hands.
Karno Neustadter, the one who had gone off to war at the age of fourteen and finished it all at fifteen years old.
“Deputy Commander, we’ve finished preparing everything for our return.”
A knight came up with a horse and said softly.
The knight who was ten years older than Karno, was excessively courteous.
Karno glanced beside him and the knight held his breath.
His whole body even started trembling when Karno reached his hand out.
Karno laughed and grabbed the reins with that hand.
He had signed a contract with a spirit dressed in pitch black., and ever since then, people had always looked at him with such horror in their eyes, since everything he touched would become ash.
“Let’s go back.”
The knight who had been frozen stiff, followed Karno from behind.
Karno did not look back.
[ / / / ]
“…Dimitri has been blessed by the Spirit of Candles!”
For something that was said to be a blessing, the reaction toward it was too lacklustre.
Asha pressed her lips together, feeling sorry for herself.
As she thought, the Emperor’s expression while looking down at the imperial grandchildren has always been as cold as ice.
The Spirit of Candles, the Spirit of Glass, the Spirit of Flowers, and the Spirit of Rain had all made an appearance, but there was never any real happiness on her cousins’ faces.
“The Imperial Grandchild, Her Highness Anastasia.”
It was finally her turn.
Asha opened the door, looking around.
The floor was full of streams that all flowed into the hall, and as she stepped in, she felt a chill rise when her feet got wet.
The water was so cold that she could almost feel her goosebumps rise.
Asha closed the door first, then knelt down slowly in the pool.
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