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In a World without God Chapter 24

A boy and a girl emerged from the water, parting the moonlit surface as they escaped from the depths of sleep. Water droplets falling from their bodies left traces on the stone floor. In the silent night, there was no one around, only the occasional cry of mountain birds echoed.

 

"Hey, let go of me!"

 

Edulis exclaimed. His soaked clothes were damp and uncomfortable, and he wanted to wring the water out of them, but he couldn't because the child was clinging tightly to his chest.

 

"You can't die, Edulis!"

 

Wet, ivory-colored hair stuck to Edulis's cheek... It tickled so badly that Edulis wanted to pull it away.

 

"Who said anything about dying? Get away from me, Murjana, it's hot, it's wet, and it's stuffy!"

 

Edulis said, pushing Murjana away.

 

"Don't lie! I saw it. Edulis, you tried to jump into the water. You tried to kill yourself!"

 

Murjana clung tenaciously to Edulis. She seemed to believe that if she let go, Edulis would run to the water's edge.

 

"Is that so? Can't I just enjoy the view?"


"That wasn't a sightseeing expression! It was a look captured by sad thoughts.  I... I know people who have died with that look."


"Sad thoughts? I've never had those! Hey, seriously, back off!"

 

Murjana is a descendant of Vala. So Edulis had come to think of her as a niece. It wasn't that hard to uproot her, but he wasn't sure he could do it without hurting her.

 

Edulis looked at Murjana's face. She was looking up at him with a furrowed brow, trying to hold back tears. Her brown eyes glistened like the moon reflected on the surface of the water as tears pooled in them.

 

Edulis felt a prickling sensation in his chest as if thorns were embedded within. He wasn't used to this. How many people had mourned Bosha's death? That damn fox should have died, he had been told that countless times. 

Suddenly, Edulis remembered Ygraine. He wondered if Ygraine had had the same look on her face as she watched Bosha die. The thought made his heart sink.

 

After all, he should have been stronger. With that thought, Edulis said.

 

"How could I take my own life? Life is Luthea's gift to humans, and how could I throw  it away?"

 

Then Murjana burst into tears. Edulis frowned, not knowing which part of his words triggered her. 

 

"Edulis.... I have become the most accomplished swordsman in House Ishtar. I wanted to brag about that to you. I wanted to say it was thanks to you. But if you die, I... I..." Murjana sobbed and buried her face on Edulis's chest.

 

"Damn it. What is it with me and these kids? I can't seem to talk to them!” Thinking that, Edulis shouted.

 

 "Hey, didn't you hear me? I already told you I’m not going to die!”!"

 

 That was all Edulis could do. The fox of Kaldura doesn’t know how to soothe a child.

 

By the time Murjana calmed down and believed Edulis' words, the moon had moved as much as a finger’s breadth

 

 ***

 

"My father was sent here to determine the connection between the Fey family and the witches. I begged him to let me come with him. ."

 

Murjanaa said. There were still red marks at the corners of her eyes. Edulis wrung the moisture from his clothes and asked.

 

"Why?"

 

"Because...."

 

Murjana slurred her words and stared at Edulis' face. Edulis turned to face her, waiting for an answer. After a long pause, Murjana continued.

 

 "...I wanted to give you something."

 

"What is it?"

 

Murjana took out a pouch from her waist. A familiar lump caught Edulis's eye: a flat, black mass.

 

"I thought you'd miss this. Jerky from the thigh of a Sijian water buffalo, the finest meat. I wrapped it tightly in cloth, so it didn't get wet."

 

"Oh...."

 

It was Vala's favorite snack from Sijia. Actually, Edulis didn't like it much. He didn't like the smell.

 

But when Murjana offered him a piece of jerky, he eagerly accepted it. Right now, she felt like a bomb that could go off at any moment. What if she cried again for some unknown reason?

 

"Thank you, I'll enjoy it."

 

"Oh, and...."

 

Murjana picked up her sword. A broad, crudely curved black curved sword. It was the sword of the Black Fang mercenaries. For a moment, Edulis thought Murjana was challenging him for a duel, but that was not the case.

 

"This sword, I will give it to you."

 

"What? Why?"

 

Murjana had often bragged that it was the same sword that Vala had used, and now she was giving it to Edulis.

 

"As I continue to train the way you have taught me, I have come to realize that this sword suits you better. I need something lighter. What's the point of carrying around a sword that doesn't fit me?"

 

"No, but you said it’s your pride.."

 

"That's right. It is my pride. It's a sword I cherish like my life. I am handing it to you now."


"What? Why don't you just use it yourself?"

 

Edulis thought that if the sword was so precious, Murjana should adapt her body to it. If time allowed, he was willing to teach Murjana swordsmanship.

 

But Murjana just smirked."You're a fool, Edulis."


"Who are you calling a fool...?"

 

Edulis was speechless. A fool? How dare a fourteen-year-old child call the Fox of Kaldura an idiot?

 

At that moment, Murjana picked up the sword lying beside Edulis. It was a crescent-shaped, slender curved sword with a white radiance, a gift from Kurgizna.

 

 

"I'll take this sword instead, is that okay?"

 

"Well, I have nothing to lose, but what do you mean I'm a fool?"

 

Murjana didn't answer him. She wiggled her legs for a moment, then came to Edulis's side and put her shoulder right next to his. Then she whispered in his ear. 

 

"Edulis, if you die, I will die. I will stab myself in the neck with this sword of yours."

 

Edulis opened his eyes wide and stared into Murjana's face. Murjana placed her hand over his and spoke.

 

"Remember that every time you use that sword. That when you forsake your life, you are killing me."

 

It was the most incomprehensible threat Edulis had ever heard.

 

"No... I won’t die, okay?"

 

***

 

Clang!

 

There was a sharp sound as hard glass clashed with metal. It was the sound of Edulis' sword, the black-fanged blade Murjana had handed him, striking the black orb.

 

Edulis put all his strength into the blow. The Black Fang's sword moved as if it were attached to his body, and the momentum of the sword shrouded in reticulated magic, could have split a mountain of rocks. However, the orb remained intact.

 

"Ha... if only this breaks, it'll all be over...!" Hathor groaned, clutching his head in his hands.

 

"Father, didn't the Saint tell you that the orb cannot be broken except by the light of Lutea?" Despite knowing Edulis' identity, Kurzina continued to call him "Saint.

 

"Still, I wondered. What else could we do? The public is in an uproar, and the king would rebuke me for allowing this to happen..... Our situation is dire, Kurzina, can’t you see?? And I only just found out about the orb!"


"Father... Apart from you, there is no one else to take on this task. It is a duty that only you must fulfill."

 

"I know! I know! Lord Bosha. Please lend us your wisdom. The treatment of Ygraine's descendants is unjust, but if the truth is revealed, the witches won't leave us in peace!"

 

Hathor liked to do what others told him to do. It wasn't his forte to lead, and he knew it, which was why he was in such a state of disarray and restlessness right now. He paced back and forth in his large office, racking his brain.

 

"So... the king is in cahoots with the witches? but if the truth is revealed, the witches won't leave us in peace!"


"Tha... I don't know...."

 

Edulis had already realized that St. Lutea of Trisis was a fake, but the question was who it was. Right now, it was most likely one of Granadilla's minions. Or maybe even Granadilla herself....

 

"When is this orb due for sacrifice?"

 

Edulis asked.

 

"According to the records left by Lord Kindatu... one month from now. It says that by the end of the month, the flesh and blood of six young children must be offered...." 

 

"That is so horrible.... Do you mean to tell me that our family has been doing that kind of shit all along?"

 

"Calm down, Kurzina. I don't want to do that either. Isn't that why we’re discussing this to Lord Bosha?”?"

 

Edulis rested his chin in his hands and thought for a moment. When the tea he hadn't touched had grown cold, he spoke again.

 

"Lower the tax rate after the Festival of Saints. Let's see.... half of what it is now would be good, and then lock the gates. Don't go outside at all."

 

"What? What does that have to do with our situation...."

Witches don't want this regime to be broken, right? So, for now, we have to go along with it. For most people, bread is more important than the truth. Plug their mouths with bread right away, without making unnecessary noise."


"Saint, why are you speaking so harshly...?"

 

Edulis ignored Kurzina and continued.

 

"It's just a temporary measure, a way to buy time and I'll do what I can while so.

 

"Without Goddess Luthea... what can you do?"

 

Edulis did not answer, for there was no point in talking to the unbelievers. Everyone in the Fey family believes that the witch killed the goddess and that she is gone.

 

But Edulis did not think so. Ygraine could not have died leaving her people to suffer. She must be out there somewhere. Just like the moon obscured by the clouds...

 

"I need information. Give me everything you know."

 

"I don't know much either, but there is a library. A library that only the head of the family can enter. It's right here... where was it?"

 

Hathor held up the notebook and stared at the bookshelf for a moment, then kicked the bottom of it, causing it to fall over and reveal a secret passage. 

 

"Here it is! Feel free to use it whenever you need to!"

 

"Okay."

 

Edulis walked down the passage. The passage was short, less than ten paces. At the end of the passage was a stone door.

 

As soon as he opened it and took a step forward, Edulis looked dumbfounded.

 

"What is it?"


"That…"

 

Hathor's eyes followed Edulis' gaze. Edulis was focused on the wall in the corner where there were no bookshelves.

 

"Does that bother you? It's just a wall decoration...." Hathor said. 

 

It wasn't just wall decoration. Edulis stepped in front of it, his gaze fixed. It hung on the wall alongside other decorations, but it was unmistakable: Ygraine's spear and sword.

 

 - I don't want you to follow me in victory or defeat. I want you to be driven by faith and love.

 

Edulis remembered when he and Ygraine had clashed swords. The long, straight blade was still razor sharp. Ygrainne had never harmed a human being in the world with such a sharp blade. The Bloodless Holy Sword...

 

"Lord Bosha?"

 

Edulis reached for the sword as if mesmerized. Then the sword began to emit white light. The darkened library was bathed in light. The light emanating from the sword swallowed Edulis whole.

 

"Lord Bosha!"

 

"Saint!"

 

Memories flooded in. On the blackened ground, Ygraine had taken the form of a child. Somehow, Edulis recognized her.

 

 - Captain Bosha

 

 The childlike Ygraine spoke in a hoarse voice that belied her appearance.

 

 - I'm sorry, Captain Bosha. Please... Please be everyone's hope, and...

 

The figure flickered like a candle about to go out. She looked terribly lonely. Regret swirled in Edulis's heart. Poor, weak Bosha, why couldn't he have stayed with her?

 

- And... if the chance arises…

 

Ygrainne spoke in a dying voice. Hearing the last words, Edulis stopped breathing. His pupils dilated and a crimson hue appeared in the whites of his eyes. Tears flowed down his eyes, forming dewdrops on his chin.

 

Edulis muttered.

 

"Ygraine... you are also...."

 

Finally, Ygraine said, "Find me. Please find me.”




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