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In a World without God Chapter 13

Updated: Jan 18

Being alive is like being swallowed by a snake. You're trapped in a narrow stomach, squirming around, waiting for the day when your body will melt away. You watch and watch, and watch, as your flesh dissolves into stomach juices and your bones melt away...

 

Screaming is pointless. The screams only travel inside the worm's stomach and never reach the outside world. If there is no salvation in life, isn’t it better to die early?

 

Marie squatted in the corner of the room, staring at the ceiling. A rotting wooden ceiling. It could collapse at any moment. It was like a reflection of herself. If it's going to crumble, just let it crumble.

 

It was long after sunrise, but no one in the room had moved, including Marie. They are all children trapped in the belly of a snake. Living dolls. Half-corpses waiting for death.

 

Looking around in a daze, Marie suddenly felt uncomfortable. One person was missing. Her younger brother Enri.

 

'When did he leave? Could it be....'

 

There was only one possibility in her mind. Enri's opponent was Tarik. She'd heard that Tarik wanted to brutally torture the witch's offspring so he could be popular with the crowd. Maybe he'd gone out to end his own life to avoid the pain.

 

As soon as the thought crossed her mind, Marie jumped out of her seat. She started to run out the door, but a sudden thought stopped her in her tracks.

 

"I'll go out to find him... and then what? Marie had been thinking about death herself a moment ago. If Enri wanted to take his own life, would it be right to stop him?


Unable to bring herself to go outside, Marie continued to pace by the door. Her love for Enri and her despair for life swirled in her mind. Enri was the brother she was closest to in Kaldura. Most of the few happy moments in her life had been spent with him.

 

'If Enri is dead... so should I......'

 

As Mari thought this, the door opened. Enri walked in. He was dirty, bruised, and battered. He reeked of sweat.

 

"Enri...! What a mess. Did your... family do this to you?"

 

Enri shook his head from side to side. Then he sank to the floor in a heap. Enri could barely find his voice. What the hell had happened to him?

 

"Enri.... Can’t you tell me what happened?"


"No, sis. I'll... tell you later...."

 

With that, Enri passed out and fell asleep. Mari soaked a cloth in water and brushed the dirt off Enri's body and cleaned his wounds. As she examined his body, she noticed that a few areas were particularly bruised, as if he had been hit repeatedly. I wondered if the servants had beaten him without her knowledge.

 

Poor Enri. The kind and foolish Enri. She can't believe he's going to die in front of everyone...if that's the case, she'd rather…


While gazing at Enri's face, Mari suddenly pulled out a hidden dagger from her back pocket.

 

After some time, Enri opened his eyes. Mari had been by his side the entire time. Enri was surprised to see her.

 

“Sis? What happened to your head…”

 

"I have something to tell you."

 

Marie's hair was long and beautiful, like a galaxy falling to earth, but now it was chopped off.

 

"I want you to switch clothes with me, Enri. You have a beautiful face, and no one will think it's weird if you wear a skirt. You'll be Marie, and I'll be Enri, until the festival is over."

 

"Sister? Why would you........"

 

"My opponent in the festival is Lady Kurzina, and she is known for her mercy. If you become Marie, you will surely survive."

 

"You mean... you're going against Lord Tarik?"

 

Marie nodded.” Go ahead and take off your clothes."

 

"...No, sis. I'm not going to change clothes with you, and I'm not going to change my name."

 "Enri. It's my wish. I... I want you to live."

 

Enri couldn't accept the offer. Just as Marie didn't want Enri to die, Enri didn't want Marie to die.

 

"I'm going to live. I'm going to fight Lord Tariq, I'm going to win, and I'm going to survive."

 

"Enri, please...."  Mari thought Enri was being ridiculous, trying to get her to reject his offer.

Then it happened. The three children who had been sitting in the corner of the room, sagging like dolls, got up from their seats and walked over to the window. "Look," he said.

 

"Look! It's a Velox wagon, two of them...."

 

"Why are they stopping here? What do they want with us?"

 

"If you'd just leave us alone, please...."

 

The sound of creaking stairs filled the air. Mari and Enri stopped their argument and turned their attention to the approaching figures. Two people were ascending the stairs.


The person who opened the door first was someone Enri recognized. Just a few hours ago, this person had relentlessly chased Enri with a stick, ready to strike him down.


Following behind Edulis was a strikingly beautiful girl with long, black hair. Everyone in the room, including Mari and Enri, bowed respectfully as if they were about to prostrate themselves on the ground.

 

"Lady Kurzina!"


"Wh-what are you doing in such a small and dirty place...."

 

The five silver-haired children were flustered and panicked. At the same time, they had questions. It was the boy standing in front of Kurzina. His hair was silver and his markings were clear. He must be the offspring of a witch, but how dare he hold his head high in front of Kurzina? Kurzina is the only daughter of Hathor, the fifth most powerful in the family.

 

But in the next moment, an even more shocking event unfolded.

 

"Eh, Lady Kurgina, what is the meaning of this?"


"R-raise your head. If anyone sees it, it'll be a big problem!"


Kurzina knelt down in front of the five children. She clasped her hands together, pressed them to the ground, and rested her forehead on them. It was the position a prisoner would take when asking for forgiveness. The five children, including Marie and Enri, waved their hands in the air, unsure of what to do. 


Kurzina said. "Holy ones. Descendants of Saint Ygraine. The sins of my family are so deep and so profound that I dare not even ask for forgiveness, but in the hope of returning to you at least a thousandth or ten-thousandth of what you deserve, I have, in my lowly and foolish way, packed a cart. Rebuke me for my laziness, for I have left the recipients of the holy blood cold and hungry for days to escape the eyes of those who believe in falsehood!"

 

The five children stiffened and looked at each other.

 

"I told you to speak plainly, Zina;  Since we brought clothes, blankets, and food, you could have just said to take whatever they wanted."


"S-sorry. Forgive me, Lord Saint."


"And I told you not to kneel. I’m not even that old, why are you kneeling?"


"...Oops. I did."

 

As Edulis spoke, Kurzina stood up from the ground. None of the children except Edulis understood the situation.


“‘Holy ones’, ‘descendant of Saint Ygraine’?? What on earth is this lady talking about? Why is that silver-haired boy with a sword at his waist so confident? How dare he address Lady Kurzina so casually. And they brought food?"


Amidst swirling questions, Edulis shouted, "What are you doing? Aren’t you hungry?"


***

 

Kurzina gathered the children together and explained. The saint's name had been defiled, and the lies that ruled this world.

 

"You are the ones who deserve all the honor in the world!"

 

Kurzina exclaimed excitedly. The children exchanged glances. Is this real, or is Kurzina's mind out of whack? They think it's more likely the latter.......

 

Then, Marie spoke up."So, does it mean anything?"


"Mari, you're talking back to Lady Kurzina...!"

 

Kurzina interrupted her."No, you are the ones who can put me under your feet!"

 

She then turned to Marie. "Marie. What do you mean, does it mean anything?"

 

"Even if what Kurzina says is true, it doesn't mean anything if you're the only one who believes it. Some of us will die in the Festival of Saints, and even if we survive, we'll be stuck in Kaldura for the rest of our lives."

 

"I'm going to spread the truth, and I've been scouring the libraries all day trying to figure out when the lies started to take over the world."

 

"So, did you have any luck with that? Can you get people to believe we're the descendants of a goddess before the festival starts?"

 

"That's......."

 

Kurzina was speechless. The days leading up to the Sainting were short. Even after searching the libraries, there was only vague information about Bosha and Ygraine. They recited myths rather than facts.

 

"Look," said Marie, "finding out what Kurzina told us won't change our lives at all; it will only make them more miserable. If it's true that we're descended from saints, why should we be so miserable?"

 

The children grew silent at Marie's bluntness. Kurzina shook her head. She might be the daughter of a powerful family, but a thirteen-year-old child was powerless.


It was then that Edulis, standing behind Kurzina, spoke up.

 

"I know people like you."

 

It wasn't a mocking voice, nor was it a sympathetic one. Edulis was looking Marie straight in the eye.

 

"You think the world has already ended, don't you?"


"It's true, isn't it? The world we live in has been doomed since the beginning since we were born!"

 

Bosha thought so too. The world was ugly, and nothing was going to change. It wasn't until he met Ygraine that he realized. The reason the world doesn't change is because we think it won't.

 

"If we win the Festival of Saints, we'll be spared the misery. We'll live to tell the tale."

 

"Stupid. How are we supposed to beat the descendants of the Bosha? For us, the Festival os Saints  is a place to bow down and beg."

 

"Didn't Enri tell you? I can help you defeat them."

 

"You're the one who talked Enri out of it. It's pointless. It's all a futile effort."

 

Marie was speaking from despair. Edulis thought of his past self.

 

“What difference does this make?”Bosha said to Ygraine, who was tending to the people in the village of Don.

 

 - A lot of people are sick, and you're still walking around? Go issue an order! Quarantine the sick!” he said. 

 - Etoile fever can be cured with good hygiene and nutrition. All we need is for neighbors to look out for each other.

 - Are you kidding me? Do you think that's possible? Who's going to take care of the sick at the risk of getting sick themselves?

 - We can. People are born to do that.

 - Fuck, really?

 

At the time, Bosha scoffed at Ygrainne's pleading. But the results weren't what he expected. People didn't ignore Ygrainne's pleas. They cleaned their neighbors' houses, made porridge, and put it in the mouths of the sick. Soon, the plague was over in seven out of ten Don villages.


To change, you need to believe you can change. For this child, tainted by the plague of helplessness, Edulis wanted to instill in her the belief that change is possible.

 

"Okay, then I'll show you that it's not pointless."

 

With that, he looked at Enri."Enri, and Zina."

 

They looked up at Edulis.

 

“You two will now fight."

 

***

 

In front of the wooden building, the courtyard.

 

Zap, zap


Between Kurgina's raised arms, a lightning-made spear shone. Kurgina turned to Edulis and said.

 

"Saint. Are you sure you're okay with this, what if we hurt Ygraine’s descendant...."

 

"It's okay, they won't be hurt,"

 

Edulis said confidently.

 

"Enri, stop it now! This is insane!"Marie shouted. A cold sweat broke out on the back of Enri's hand as he gripped the sword.

 

He'd only learned two moves. All he remembered was being chased all day by Edulis. It was only a day ago that he learned how to fight for the first time in his life. He didn't think he could beat Kurzina.

 

Nevertheless, he followed Edulis' advice because he wanted to show Marie that he could– that what he was doing was not a pointless endeavor.

 

'Put weight on the sword, throw your whole body, and slash upward....'

 

He repeated to himself. Enri's eyes glowed as he stared at the lightning spear. The next moment, the lightning spear flew towards Enri.

 

Zap! Boom!

 

"Enri! No!"

 

The place where the lightning spear landed exploded, sending rocks flying around.

 

But there was no Enri. Somehow, Enri was standing in front of one of Kurzina. 

 

'A body holding a sword is the axis of a spinning top, the eye of a storm. Like the front paw of a black-fanged wolf charging...!'

 

Enri swung his sword at Kurzina.

 

“Ugh!”

 

Swish! Thud!

 

The white curved sword escaped Enri's hand and rolled across the ground. The moment he leaped and connected with a slash, the sword felt so heavy that he couldn't hold it.

 

'It’s a failure at this rate, my sister....'

 

Enri cautiously looked back in her direction. All five children, including Mari, were wide-eyed.

 

"How’d... how did you dodge that?"


"Enri! How did you…?”




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