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In a World withotu God Chapter 40

The Ascidian region is a large area that stretches along the coast. It consists of eight villages adjacent to the coastline and five villages that connect it to the interior. The largest of these, Garug, is adjacent to the Masataba hills. They enter the village as beggars, and indeed, they act like beggars.

 

"Please, spare just a penny, sir."

 

With lye-soaked faces, haggard expressions, and pitiful voices, Edulis looked like nothing more than a beggar as he buried his face in the ground.  


"Oh dear, how did such a young one end up like this, tsk tsk."


A coin clinked as it fell into the can in front of Edulis.


"Thank you! Thank you! You will be blessed, sir!"


With his head still to the ground, Edulis laughed slyly. After the man who threw the coin left, Ishcur asked in a low voice.

 

"...Hey, why are you so good at this?"

 

"On the contrary, I want to ask you, do you have any idea what the hell you're doing or not?"

 

"For a first-timer, aren't I doing well? I've made a few pennies too. Look." Ishkur rattled the tin.


"No, your voice lacks desperation. It doesn't sound like a beggar at all."


"Then go and say that to Murjana."


"Hmm..."


Edulis looked at Murjana's tin can. There was nothing in it but dust. It wasn't that Murjana was lazy, she just wasn't good at begging.

 

"Hey, old bearded man."

 

"Me, you mean me?"

 

"That's right. It's embarrassing and shameless, but I have an urgent favor to ask of you, old man."

 

Murjana stared at the man's face. The man stiffened, looked around, and then spoke.

 

"I'm sorry, young lady. Find someone else. I don't want to get into anything dangerous."

 

"Dangerous? It's not like that, old man. It's not dangerous at all! It's just a little inconvenience to you. Very slight and insignificant...."

 

"Yikes! Find someone else!"

 

The man hobbled away in a huff.

 

"No, why...."

 

Edulis said to Murjana, who was scratching her head. "Why don't you understand? Why are you so forceful?"

 

"I wasn’t forceful."

 

"Murjana... you've got too much attitude, don't you think you should have a gleam in your eye and flattery in your voice?"

 

"Didn't I just do that?"

 

Edulis was dumbfounded.  Who would think that was begging? It seemed more like she was about to ask someone to smuggle drugs.

 

"Start by smiling. Here."

 

"Hehehehe.... like this?"

 

"A little more, with the corners of your mouth up."

 

"Um... like this?"

 

"More!"

 

Murjana put her fingers to the corners of her mouth and pushed her cheeks up. Her chubby cheeks were quite cute, but her expression was not. She looked like she could kill someone right now and it wouldn't be weird.

 

"Ah... there's no hope. Edulis, let's just do it ourselves."


"You're being harsh, Ishkur. I can do this. Look, hehehe...."

"We would also look weird being around her, so let's move…"

 

Murjana narrowed her eyes and glared at Ishkur.

 

"I don't think that's necessary," Edulis said as he heard footsteps trudging toward them.

 

Ishcur also looked in the direction Edulis was looking. There were about half a dozen kids, each holding a club. They looked to be in their late teens, but as big as adults. The one who was leading them, the biggest of them, stomped his foot and said, "I don't know where you guys rolled in from, but don't you know basic manners? Even among beggars, there are rules, manners!"


"We thought we were begging quite politely," Murjana said, causing the boy to frown.

 

“You think this is some kind of joke? Spreading your mat without so much as a hello? Show some respect and greet my boss. We have rules, you know, procedures in place. You should have laid your mat in the designated area.”

 

"Is that so? I didn't know."


"Hmph! From the way you talk, you're a newbie. Okay, I'll make a special point with the boss for you, but in return...."

 

The boy stuck out his tongue, licked his lips, and then looked Murjana up and down.

 

"You, what's your name?"

 

"Murjana."

 

"Good, from this day forward, you’ll be with me, Tumar."

 

"What do you mean?"


 "I'm telling you, since you look 50-50 I'm going to give you special treatment. If you go with me, you'll pay half the price."


"50-50? Me?"

 

That’s when it happened. 


"You said boss, didn't you?"

 

Edulis had quietly moved behind the boy.


"What? Aaagh!"


Edulis grabbed the boy's arm and twisted it behind his back.


"What are you all doing? Help me!"


The boy looked back and yelled for help, but the four who were following him were already rolling on the ground.


"You said to pay respects, right? Let's go now. Lead the way to the boss."

 

 ***

 

Aruru gets information from the rats spread across the country. Therefore, he can get a general idea of the situation on the continent through the information they give him. However, there are things even rats find hard to know.

 

First, rats don't know much about history. Most have short lifespans of three to five years, so even five years ago seems like a long time ago. Thus, no rat knows much about Ishkur and the Ascidians, let alone the battle between Ygraine and Granadilla. That was 12 years ago.

 

Second, rats are colorblind. To them, the world is all gray. They can't distinguish between human eye colors, and they don't care. So if one were to ask them, "Have you ever seen a human with red eyes?" they wouldn't have an answer.

 

In Edulis's time as Bosha, black-haired, red-eyed Ascidians were evenly distributed across most of Ascidian territory. They were an indigenous force, skilled in witchcraft and magic. With those memories, Edulis felt out of place upon entering the Ascidian region. There was not a single black-haired, red-eyed person in sight.

 

 "Tell me, 'Boss'. What happened 12 years ago? Where did all the Ascidians go?"

 "Ugh...what the hell are you talking about, suddenly barging in here?"

 

Their den was in a strange place. It was a sea cave, but the rocks obscured the entrance, and the path to it was only visible at low tide.


Edulis and his group were dressed as beggars, not ideal for gathering information from passersby. Therefore, the quickest way would be to ask other beggars. In such neighborhoods, there's usually an old-timer who controls the territory. Beggars who wander around begging would know and hear more than others. That's why Edulis and his group provoked the beggars to find this hideout.

 

"Red eyes! You've seen these red eyes before, haven't you?" Ishkur exclaimed, breaking the dye spell and pointing to his own eyes. He trampled on the boss's finger.

His minions were overpowered by Edulis and Murjana, all of them on the ground.

 

"I don't know! I don't know!" The man called "Boss" said nothing as his hand was crushed. Edulis popped the man's arm in the knuckles.

 

Hey, 'Boss.' How old are you?"


"Ugh... Thirty-one!"


"Did you move here from somewhere else?"


"I was born and raised in Garug!"


"And you don't know about the red eyes? 12 years ago, the Fey family came to Garug, killed the Ascidian men, and took their children. If you were born and raised here, you should know, right?"


"There's never been such a thing?! I've never seen people with blood-red eyes, nor heard any stories about them! Please, just let me go!"


"You really don't know? Do you think that makes sense?"


"It does, you fools! Ask anyone in the town, they'll all say the same! Oh, what a load of bullshit! I've been mistaken for some psycho!"

 

It didn't make sense. Even if he didn't know about the incident 12 years ago, he couldn't be completely unaware of the Ascidian people. Just 80 years ago, a significant portion of the population was of that ethnicity.

 

"You bastard, have you been silenced by a witch? How long are you going to lie to me?"

 

Edulis grabbed Ishkur's shoulder as he stomped on the ‘Boss’. "Let's go back, Ishkur."

 

"Edulis?"

 

"Something's off."

 

It was too much of a stretch. If he was going to lie, he would have made up a more plausible story. Bosha, the mercenary captain, felt it in his gut. This man truly believed what he was saying.

 

"But I haven't gotten any information!"


"No, I have a vague idea."

 

"What?"

  

Edulis asked one last time as they left the cave, Ishkur in tow.

 

"Hey, do you know what the Mastaba fortress was built for?"


"I heard that the Saint's army built it to deal with the witch's remnants."

 

"I see…"

 

***

 

At night. The moon was half-hidden by clouds. The rocky shores of Garug were so still you could hear a crab walking across the rocks. The calm waves were like a lullaby. The sea at 4 a.m., when everyone else is asleep.

 

Then, in the middle of the calm, ripples began to form. Then, with a sharp crash, it came to shore. It stepped out onto the sand, its scales and aquamarine hair glistening in the moonlight. Half fish, half woman, it perched on the rock closest to shore and cleared its throat. It was about to make a sound.

 

"I hoped I was wrong," Edulis said. Then he pointed a black blade at her throat. 

 

The beggar boss denied with conviction what must have happened. It was only twelve years ago. Assuming he's telling the truth, Edulis presumed that memory-manipulation was involved. There are many possibilities, but this is Ascidia, the coast of the mermaids.

 

"Weren't the mermaids part of Lutea's army? Why did they betray her?"

 

"Kill me."

 

"Lutea has purified the sea of all the poison the witch poured into it. She saved the lives of your entire clan, and yet, even with her grace, you still follow the witch's will?

 

"You are right, we are an ungrateful people, so kill us."

 

"Weren't you followers of the Apostle Geshtuna? When did you abandon your pride?"

 

"A child speaks of old stories."

 

 She turned her head and glanced at Edulis's face.

 

"Even Geshtuna was eventually defeated by the witch and extinguished. What good is pride if it kills you? We chose survival over pride."

 

"Funny you say that, considering how readily you're asking to be killed."


At Edulis' words, she shook her head. Edulis continued to point the knife to her throat.

 

"You were tasked with manipulating the memories of the villagers. What was the purpose of that?"

 

"I can't tell you, not even in death. It's not for humans to know."

 

"Ah, so you're loyal to the witch?"

 

The mermaid furrowed her brow at the word loyalty. She didn't look happy about working for the witch.


Edulis spoke. "When you die, someone else will take your place. Will they be as loyal as you?"


"What do you mean?"

 

"I will stay in this sea from this day forward, and I will kill anyone who sets foot on its shores at dawn, even if they are your family or friends. What then? You will have forsaken both pride and survival."


"A ridiculous threat. You don't think any of us could defeat you?"

 

"Well, let's see if there is."

 

White magic began to flow from Edulis' sword and body. Like a current flowing toward the great ocean. The mermaid's eyes widened at the sight.

 

"Who are you?? This aura is not that of an apostle... no, not even that."


"I am the enemy of Granadilla, and the enemy of all who oppose the will of Lutea.”


The mermaid was lost for words. 

 

"I will kill you, and your companions, without fail. Do you think I can't?" Edulis continued. 


"Ugh...."


There was again silence. The mermaid looked into Edulis's face, and Edulis stared in return. In truth, Edulis' words were hollow threats. Lutea would have none of it. Lutea loves even those who oppose her.

 

The sea breeze brushed his cheeks. Only after the waves had lapped at Edulis's feet a dozen times did the mermaid speak.

 

"What do you want?"

 

"Tell me everything you know."

 

"If I tell you... will you not jeopardize the survival of the other mermaids?"

 

"Unless they are enemies of Lutea."

 

"We don't have such grand intentions, I just don't want my family and friends to die."

 

"You made a deal with the witch?"

 

 The mermaid nodded.

 

"I'll take over that deal. I'll ensure you can keep both your survival and pride, as long as you don't serve the witch."


"That sounds like a dream. None of us are loyal to the witch. We only made a deal for survival."


"What kind of deal did you make with the witch?"


The mermaid sighed heavily and said. "In exchange for not harming our kind, we agreed to help the witch in her endeavors."

 

"What does the witch want to accomplish in Ascidia?"

 

"That's.... Ascidian is...."


The mermaid seemed to struggle to get each word out as if she were deeply ashamed of the fact.

 

"Garug... is a small farm. A human farm. And we're like sheepdogs." At the mention of farms, Edulis's brow furrowed.

 

"We sing at dawn, deceiving the humans with our songs, so that they won't feel disconnected when their children are gone, their parents are gone... so that they won't even remember that they ever had such a family...."

 

"Where are the Ascidians?" A hissing sound came from his teeth. Edulis asked, trying to keep his anger in check.


The mermaid answered. "They are helping with experiments. Experiments conducted on humans."





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