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In a World without God Chapter 28

Thud. The strength drained from Edulis' body. Edulis collapsed, resting his head on the shoulder of the sleeping Laotou.

 

"Edulis! Edulis, what's going on? We've only just met Lord Laotou!" Aruru exclaimed, bouncing on top of Edulis' sleeping body.

 

Taharka stared at the scene in disbelief.

 

 - You know how smart Lutea is, I'm sure she's got some sort of plan up her sleeve, one that fools like you and me can't think of.

 

That's what Taharka had said to Laotou when they first met.

 

“Are you sure... are you sure?”


“Yes. Let's wait together. We have to see the witch fall, right?”

 

Taharka decided to hope with Laotou, and together they began hiding in the Spider Forest. But for forty years, hope did not come. No one came to the forest, and only the witch's servants roamed the waters of Lake Kebese.

 

Laotou had visibly weakened. Her laughter became more and more forced, her energy less and less. One day, she said, 

 

"I'm sorry, I need to get some sleep. Can you watch over me? If someone comes while I'm asleep...."

 

The sleep of an apostle is unique. It consumes those it touches in its dreams.

 

Taharka listened to Laotou and guarded her bed. To prevent bad people from entering Laotou's dreams and causing nightmares. To prevent good people from getting lost in Laotou's dreams and losing themselves.

 

Another forty years passed, and someone came to the forest, a child with silver hair.

 

'Bosha, are you really the hope that Laotou has been waiting for....'

 

Taharka placed his hand on Edulis' sleeping back. Edulis must be wandering in Laotou's dreams right now.

 

 'Please... wake Lady Laotou’.

 

 ***

 

"Why are you so dazed? Where's your drink?"

 

"Huh?"

 

"What's the matter, Bosha. Are you drunk after only one drink?"

 

Laotou said.

 

Bosha looked around. It was a familiar tavern. The Black Fang's favorite tavern. Vala had been kicked out once for flirting with the barmaid here.

 

"Ha, that can't be right, we're just getting started!"

 

"That's the spirit, Captain Bosha! What song are you going to sing me tonight?"

 

"Shut up and drink."

 

Bosha had never won a duel with Laotou, but he was no slouch when it came to drinking. But a few nights ago, Bosha got so drunk that he sang uncharacteristically loudly. It's something that Laotou still teases her about.

 

Bosha was furious and asked for a rematch. Today, he was going to drink through his nose in broad daylight.

 

"Here we go... a toast to a peaceful world!"


"Cheers to Laotou!"

 

Laotou shouted her toast, and everyone in the bar raised their glasses in response. Most of them are civil construction workers. On their days off from work, they gather at the bar to hang out with Laotou. What is an apostle? In a world without witches, Laotou has become the bar's mascot. Cute, talkative, and a good drinker, no one didn't liked her.

 

There was just one person who interrupted the drinking.

 

"Toasting to a peaceful world.... Nice words."

 

"Ugh...."

 

"But Laotou, you see the sun outside the window, right?"

 

Laotou threw her hands up in embarrassment. The others in the bar were watching the scene with smirks on their faces.

 

"No, Princess. I'm just really upset today!"

 

"What's wrong, let's hear it."

 

"Bosha... Bosha talked me into it! I really didn't want to drink today, but Bosha said it was the day...."

 

Bosha's voice shook with embarrassment.

 

"Hey, hey, hey, you're selling me out here, Laotou, you agreed too!"

 

Ygraine sighed.

 

"Ha... Bosha, Laotou, you both said I told you to cut down on your drinking, what are you two doing now? You've been drinking every day since the witch fell, do you think the money for alcohol comes out of the ground?"

 

"Uh... um... Princess, that's...."

 

Then the bar owner said.

 

"It's okay, it's okay, don't worry, Lady Ygraine. I'm letting you drink for free. How else would we be able to pay the apostle Laotou and the hero Bosha, who saved our lives."

 

"What?"

 

Ygraine’s eyebrow twitched. Laotour and Bosha know. It means he's really angry.

 

"You've been drinking in broad daylight, and you've been preying on  innocent people, and you're supposed to be an apostle and a hero...!"

 

"Calm down, Lady Ygraine, we're only doing this because we’re happy to serve Lord Bosha and Lady Laotou...."

 

"That... That's right, Princess. It's not polite to refuse a favor, is it?"

 

"That's right, and when you receive one, you should also be able to accept it...."

 

Soon, the tavern owner, Laotou, and Bosha all silenced themselves, intimidated by Igraine's presence.

 

"How much? For everything they've had so far."


"Well, I don't know? I haven't kept track. It's really okay."


"Take it! I won't leave until you do!"


Ygraine finally gave the barkeep the money, and Laotou and Bosha left the bar, looking like puppies who had torn the carpet.

 

"I'm sorry, Princess...."

 

After a long lecture, Laotou was dejected. Bosha deliberately walked slower than Laotou, knowing that Ygraine's scolding would focus more on her.

 

"You always say you're sorry, and then the next day you're out at the bar with Bosha again."

 

"I won't do that anymore, Princess. I'm going to quit drinking tomorrow, and Bosha, don't you dare invite me to drink! I'll be sober as hell."

 

Ygraine stared at Laotou's side profile for a long moment before she finally burst into laughter. 

 

"Laotou, I'm not saying you shouldn't drink at all. I'm saying you should moderate."

 

"Moderation... what do you mean, like once every two days...?"

 

"Once every two days is moderation?" Ygraine sighed heavily and said.

 

"No. You'll have to come with me from now on, and if you think you're drinking too much, I'll be there to stop you."

 

"To the bar, with the princess?"


"Why? Don't you want to go with me? Is it less fun than with Captain Bosha?"

 

"Oh, no, it's much more fun with the princess, Bosha, you're on your own now!"

 

Bosha bit his lip in disbelief, and Ygraine smiled at him.

 

"Why don't we go together, the three of us...."

 

"Great!"

 

Bosha was thrilled by what Ygraine had said, and he walked over to the smiling Ygraine and put his arms around her.

 

At that moment, Bosha felt a strange sense of discomfort.


*** 


On the ridge of Mount Karnak, a brick house with a tall chimney billowed smoke. The house was a long way from the village. It was Laotou who had built it. The house suited Laotou's tastes, as she didn't like people.

 

"I made a gratin from canned potatoes in the field. It's my first time cooking.... I don't know if it will be good enough for the princess."

 

"She looks like she would, though."

 

"Really? Hehe... I learned it from Auntie Marge at the mill."

 

It was two months ago that they built their house here. Two months ago, at Laotou's suggestion, Laotou, Bosha, and Ygraine decided to live together. They fenced off the front of the house, using one side as a vegetable garden and the other as a ranch.

 

"It's delicious, Laotou."

 

"Glad to hear it, Bosha, how about you?"

 

It was a leisurely time. A peaceful time with no one to disturb them. But Bosha didn't touch his potato gratin. Instead, he looked at the table and asked Laotou.

 

"Laotou, are you happy right now?"

 

"What do you mean, just eat the potatoes!”"

 

Laotou said, pouting her lips. Laotou's body language is as childlike as ever. Bosha continued, still not touching the potato.

 

"If you're happy with this, I'll keep hanging out with you. I have to, because I have a responsibility."


"What's all this suddenly... Don’t you like potatoes? You should have said so earlier. Maybe I should have cooked bacon."


"Laotou."

 

Bosha looked Laotou straight in the eye. In those turquoise eyes, he could see himself. Not Edulis, but Bosha.

 

"Answer me, are you happy now?"

 

"What the hell? You want me to answer that before you eat? Fine...."

 

Laotou scratched her head and replied.

 

"Yes, I'm happy! I'm not bothered, I'm free, I've got Lutea here, and I've got you...."

 

Laotou felt embarrassed as she spoke, and quickly waved her hands dismissively. 

 

"Is it because I haven't been drinking lately?  Why are you talking nonsense all of a sudden...."

 

But even after hearing the answer, Bosha didn't look away from Laotou.

 

"Laotou, what kind of person is your beloved Lutea?"

 

"What kind of person is she... She's right in front of you. Can’t you try some gratin, I did my best cooking it...." she avoided Bosha's gaze.

 

"During the Etoile fever epidemic, Ygraine personally traveled from village to village to take care of the people. She doesn't like to sit at a table and fiddle with paperwork. She prefers to visit the most difficult and sick people and take care of them herself."


"Sure! I know! I understand much more than you…!"

 

Indeed, Laotou knows much more about Lutea than Bosha does, and rightly so. She was the first life Lutea created. How many years have they been together?

 

"Laotou, Igrainne loves everyone in the world."

 

"Bosha... stop talking nonsense and eat some potatoes, please!" She couldn't look Bosha in the eye. She lowered her head and shouted.

 

"Laotou."

 

"Shut up!"

 

"Ygraine will never stay in a place like this. She always tries to mingle with people, unlike you and me."

 

"Shut up!"

 

Laotou shook her shoulders as if frightened by something.

 

"You should know better than anyone. That Ygraine can't be here."

 

"What the... what the hell are you talking about, the princess is right here!"

 

Laotou exclaimed, pointing to a chair, but no one was sitting on it. There were only two people in there, Bosha and her.

 

"I say again, Laotou. If you call this happiness, I will stay in this world until the end. I will stay in the world you created, farming, tending to my livestock, and eating the food you made. It's only right. You have kept it to yourself for eighty years, and I have not been there to share it with you."


Laotao bowed her head and stared at the ground. The bricks melted like ice. The chair crashed to the floor as if it were made of paper.

 

"But, Laotou, if you say this is not happiness....... I will take responsibility somehow. I will bring Ygraine back to life, drive out the witches, build a brick house on Mount Karnak, plant potatoes in the fields, and maybe she'll stop by once or twice as she passes."

 

"Bosha... please......."

 

The ceiling began to crumble. All that was left was a white void.

 

"Let's start drinking beer in broad daylight. We'll drink until the bar closes, whether Ygraine nags us or not, whether our wallets are empty or not. No, who cares if it's closed, I'll bully the barkeep."


Laotou was quiet. 

 

"I'll even sing you a song. Even if you don't want to hear it! Squeak like a pig! I'll sing it until my throat is hoarse, so...."

 

A spiderweb of gold stretched through the air. The sound of glass cracking echoed. 

 

"I ask you again. Is this the happiness you want?"

 

Laughing, Laotou froze in place. Now there was nothing around them. Nothingness, nothingness, nothingness.


Laotou mumbled something. "...No."

 

Bosha, no, Edulis walked over to Laotou. He reached over and embraced her head. This was how Ygraine always held him when he was vomiting. Laotou lifted her head and looked up into Edulis's face.

 

"Bosha, you... can you really be responsible for your words?"

 

At that moment, the world fell apart. Before Edulis could respond.

 

Edulis opened his eyes. Deep darkness had fallen over the forest. In front of her was a cocoon, and in it was Laotou. Laotou's eyes were open. It was looking at Edulis. Its turquoise eyes reflected his silver hair.

 

As soon as he came to, Edulis said. "Of course."






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