Aurore recollected the situation and surmised that her brother's account was accurate.

She sighed, overcome with emotion and remarked, "To think that such dreadful corruption can be brought about by that concealed entity worshiped by Pierre Berry and his accomplices. Even the evil deities mentioned in ancient manuscripts fail to elicit such a reaction."

Lumian showed no signs of surprise and said, "Otherwise, why are we trapped in a time loop?"

The more Aurore contemplated, the more perplexed she became. She muttered, "Is it possible that we have to confront the concealed entity on the twelfth night and defeat it to end the cycle?

"This would entail gathering ingredients, digesting the potion, and undergoing repeated cycles to become a deity..."

Lumian interrupted her train of thought as he realized that his sister was becoming increasingly irrational.

"Stop! It cannot be this extreme."

Aurore acknowledged his remark tersely and nodded slightly.

"You are right. We have, at most, one more cycle. It is impossible for us to become deities within twenty days."

She then shrugged and added, "There is no hope. Let us wait for death."

"..." Even Lumian, who had an inventive mind, struggled to keep up with his sister's thoughts.

Aurore exhaled and looked at her brother. "All right, I am done venting. Continue."

"Huh?" Lumian appeared puzzled and took a few seconds to understand what his sister meant by continuing.

"By the look of things, the three transformed sheep are to be offered as sacrifices and brought back to Cordu. It is no surprise that they did not wait until early May. The twelfth night is, in fact, the day of a grand-scale sacrifice to the concealed entity?"

Aurore's eyes scanned the surroundings, and she said, "That was my assumption, but why did the padre and his accomplices receive varying degrees of blessings before Lent? According to my understanding, it should have been an exchange through sacrifice."

Drawing on his malicious perspective, Lumian made a bold conjecture based on the previous cycle's events.

"A small sacrifice and a grand ritual? At the end of the Lent celebration, the padre, who had obtained extraordinary powers, no longer concealed his abnormality. It is evident that he was planning something significant!"

After pondering for a moment, Aurore said, "The Lent celebration could be a part of the grand ritual. Before the grand ritual, the padre made up his mind and offered his soul to the evil deity. With a certain amount of offerings, he obtained a plethora of blessings, completely revealing his true colors. By the looks of it, everyone in Cordu will be implicated once the Lent celebration commences. No one can escape."

The siblings exchanged glances and believed that their assumption was close to the truth.

However, if the abnormality erupted entirely from the Lent celebration until the twelfth night, how could they patiently wait until the final ritual to find the key to the cycle?

There was a high probability that everyone in the village, apart from those who died as sacrifices, would be corrupted!

"I am only a Sequence 7..." Aurore covered her face and said, "And you are only a Sequence 9."

They were facing such a dire situation!

Based on Lumian's account of the battle at the end of the Lent celebration and Aurore's recent experience hunting black-marked monsters, she knew that she was no match for the padre who had received a boon. She felt that she had to prepare in advance before she could confront Pierre Berry.

Lumian had fortunately defeated the mutated padre in a one-on-two battle.

Yet, preventing the padre and his accomplices from obtaining supernatural powers in advance could avert the twelfth night. The cycle would most likely restart in advance.

"Hell difficulty! Hell difficulty!" Aurore slammed the dining table with a mournful expression.

Without waiting for Lumian's response, she raised her hands and tousled her blonde locks, as if releasing pent-up emotions.

After a series of gestures, Aurore composed herself and calmly addressed Lumian, "Seek out the trio of foreigners tomorrow morning. You may disclose the abnormality in the village to them. Concealing our status as Beyonders is unnecessary."

"It's very dangerous..." Lumian instinctively replied.

Was it not natural for wild Beyonders to be considered culpable when they encountered officials?

Aurore let out a slow exhale and stated, "In this predicament, we can't care less. Other than the enigmatic lady, the trio are likely the most reliable individuals in the village. Moreover, each of them possesses strength that is on par with mine or even surpasses it. We are all in the same boat. Do not underestimate one another. Whether one is a wild Beyonder or an official, we must band together. As for the possibility of being hunted down by officials in the future, we shall cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we must focus on escaping this loop."

Lumian had heard his sister use the phrase 'all in the same boat' before. He knew it implied that everyone was in a similar predicament and facing the same problem. If something were to happen, no one could escape. They had to stand together.

"Very well, I will seek them out tomorrow," he assented.

Aurore continued, "I now suspect that someone else is behind the padre and Pierre. He is the root of the corruption."

"Madame Pualis?" Lumian guessed. "Not only is she powerful, but she is also the padre's mistress. She can control him in secret and use him to influence the others in the village."

"But she has no apparent connection to Pierre." Aurore gazed at her brother, frowning in contemplation. "From the encounter with the three sheep, Pierre and Niort should have gained supernatural powers when they grazed the plains last October. At the very least, they should have acquired the corresponding knowledge. This is because they did not return midway, so it is impossible to obtain it elsewhere.

"This means that the abnormality in the village can be traced back to July and August of last year. Did you notice any anomalies?"

Lumian shook his head slowly.


He had initially thought that he was thoroughly acquainted with Cordu, but now, he realized that the undercurrents had been present for over half a year. This realization filled him with dread and made him feel like a stranger in his own home.

What is the problem? Lumian felt as though he was shrouded in layers of fog. He could never discern the truth of the matter.

Aurore continued, "It could also be that owl. Perhaps the legendary Warlock who died is not truly deceased. He may still be hiding somewhere in the village, or perhaps someone who we frequently encounter. He may have already discovered that I am a Warlock, and deliberately suppressed the legend from me. There are no such restrictions for ordinary individuals like you."

Aurore instructed in a low voice, "Notify me immediately the next time the owl pays a visit. I will get White Paper to track it and determine its whereabouts."

Lumian tersely acknowledged his sister's request, indicating that he too was waiting for the owl to appear.

This time, I will pluck all your feathers! He cursed inwardly.

Aurore pondered for a moment before issuing a third directive.

"Tomorrow afternoon, I shall extend an invitation to Madame Pualis. The administrator remains at his post, leaving the butler and the servants as the only occupants of the castle. You may clandestinely enter and scour for any clues. If you are successful in persuading the three foreigners in the morning to come, we can get their aid in this operation."

She dared not let White Paper venture to Madame Pualis's place whilst she was present. Nevertheless, she could not afford to be distracted whilst in Madame Pualis's company, thus she had to rely on her brother.

Lumian nodded before advancing the suggestion,

"I would advise against being alone with Madame Pualis. I fear she may seize the opportunity to deal with you."

"Shall we invite Nazélie and the others to an afternoon tea gathering?"

The more individuals present, the safer it would be.

"Indeed." Aurore deemed it a superior option.

She then remarked in a tone that was equal parts apprehensive and teasing, "You must exercise caution after infiltrating the castle. I do not wish to end up an aunt."

Lumian dared not retort, but gave her a glance that conveyed, "I am more concerned about your safety, for Madame Pualis will be with you."

During supper, Aurore set White Paper free to monitor the sheep pen. She discovered that the three sheep had licked the blood off their faces, preventing Shepherd Pierre Berry from detecting any anomaly.

Following that, Lumian resumed his education on mysticism until he fell asleep. He acquired mastery over many Hermes words, including "me," "name," "summon," "need," "light," and "Sun."

Light served as an incantation to activate the Integrity Brooch. There were three paragraphs in total.


Lumian awoke in the room shrouded in a faint gray mist.

He strode to the window and scrutinized the dark red "peak" and the dilapidated edifices that surrounded it once more.

I wonder what secrets lie here... Lumian muttered.

As he gazed, a thought suddenly struck him.

The ruins contained too many hazardous zones that he either could not or dared not approach. For instance, the lair of the three-faced monster. However, if he could summon a spirit world creature akin to White Paper and forge a pact with it, allowing it to infiltrate and observe, he ought to be able to gather more intelligence.

His vision, sense of smell, and hearing were all heightened by his Beyonder characteristics. In theory, they constituted a kind of supernatural power that could be conveyed upon White Paper.

As he ruminated, Lumian muttered to himself, The problem now is whether I can summon a spirit world creature in the dream ruins...

If I cannot, can I utilize our connection to bring it into the dream after summoning and forging the pact in reality?

What implications will the addition of a contracted creature have on the cycle? Can the corresponding spirit world be added to the mix? If not, once the summoning duration elapses, the contracted creature will return and the cycle will recommence...

The more Lumian thought about it, the more his head throbbed. He felt a profound reverence for mysticism. He could only hope to swiftly master a few languages that would enable him to complete a summoning ritual.

Without further ado, he seized his shotgun, the meager quantity of lead bullets that remained, and the sharp axe. He departed his home, traversed the wilderness, and re-entered the ruins.

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