002. Divine Grace

In this world, people are given a special ability called "Divine Grace."

The content varies from person to person. The timing of manifestation also varies, but it is said that the earliest would be granted immediately after birth, while the latest by the age of 12.

Basically, there is one per person, but some people have five. The King, for example, had five. It may have something to do with a noble bloodline. To the average villager, it was no more than a fairy tale.

However, there is a ritual in this country that allows ordinary people to dream once they turn 12, though not as much as a fairy tale.

That is the "Inspection Day."

Those who receive good "Grace" are given scholarships by the country to study at national academies. In the future, they can become officials, knights, or work in the service of the country. In addition to the promise of a stable and high salary, the family members are also provided with a pension. It's obvious why many people yearn for this. 

In order to determine whether or not a child has these qualities, all children who have reached the age of 12 are subjected to an examination.

Specifically, on the first solstice after turning 12 (spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox, and winter solstices), the name of the "Divine Grace" is said to be revealed by the Holy Stone that's used at places of worship around the country. Officials dispatched by the country are present to witness and confirm whether the Grace is worthy or not.

[T/N: Btw, I did not research or fact check the solstice thing, please correct me in the comments if I interpreted wrong]

Since Luca was born after the spring equinox, he had to go to the town's place of worship on the summer solstice for inspection. After all, there is no Holy Stone set up in a small, rural village.

Unfortunately, there is no one else in the village to be inspected at the same time. Normally, one or two adults would lead the group, though Luca was not fond of the people in the village anything and planned to go alone. However, when the day of departure came, the Village Chief had arranged for the peddler's wagon.

When Luca came out, he found the peddler already waiting for him at the village gate.

"Goodbye, brother!"

Only Luca's little brother was there to see him off. His little brother came to visit Wolf's once and had taken a liking there. So much so that he began to stay at the cabin instead of helping out in the family's fields. His glossy black hair, which bears no resemblance to Luca's, flutters in the gentle breeze amidst the sunlight.

"I'm off."

Luca has recently been feeling very fond of Licht, the only child in the village who was close to him.

"It will take us a whole day to get to town, so you can relax on the back of the wagon until we take a break." 

The peddler said, as he moved to the driver's seat and took the wheel of the wagon. Luca thanked the former and sat down beside his luggage.

This man regularly brought various goods, including vegetables and woodwork, which he bought from the village. Luca was also familiar with him, as he had sold him skins and dried meat from his hunted games before. The man was about to reach his prime age and apparently had family in a town closer to the Royal Capital. He was the second person who had never reacted weirdly to Luca's appearance.

Frankly, Luca appreciates the fact that this is a covered wagon. His eyes and skin are sensitive to sunlight due to his physical condition, and on a sunny day like today, it's tough without shade.

(I can hide in the mountains or forests as much as I want.)

He felt like complaining to the country for bringing him the trouble of travelling for the Inspection Day. He heard that many people look forward to this day, but Luca simply wants to continue living as a hunter in the mountains. It would be more convenient for him if he was not so important to the country. Besides, he had a pretty good idea of what kind of "Grace" he received.

It was when he was seven years old.

Luca was able to hunt rabbits and pheasants on a daily basis. Along with bow hunting, he also began to learn throwing and trapping. As he was beginning to enjoy hunting, it was also time for him to stand on his own two feet. 

He had never left the cabin by himself before, but now that Wolf went down to the village, he was left here by himself. He felt like he was wasting his time waiting, and that he could do things on his own now. Also, by the time Wolf comes back, he would probably praise him if Luca showed him what he had hunted alone. He doesn't exactly remember why he left the cabin, but he guessed that's what's on his mind for the most part.

Luca went deeper and deeper into the mountains, looking around the traps that Wolf and he had set up together, searching for signs of preys. He knows the direction of the sun, and he have marked the trees with string. He knows how to travel and not get lost. He felt like stepping into a place where Wolf had never taken him before.

Alas, seven-year-old Luca did not know that when you try something for the first time and nothing happens for a while, you get used to it. He didn't know that getting used to something means letting one's guard down.

Suddenly, Luca heard a bush sway behind him. When he turned around, he saw a big boar, about 1.5 times taller than him, staring at his being.


Author's Note:

I assumed Luka's height to be 120cm, so the boar's height is 180cm. Smaller than Okkotonushi-sama. Probably.

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