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In a World without God Chapter 37

If someone were watching this land from a distant sky, what would they think of this scene? Would they think a flower had blossomed in the middle of the desert, or would they think a white flame was burning?

 

Along the sound of weeping, the curved curved sword clattered to the ground like a crescent moon. Murjana sank to her knees and sobbed, teardrops falling onto the dry sand, but the falling black snakes covered them.

 

The snakes wriggled in agony as they touched the white light, then melted into black specks. As a result, the ground around Murjana was stained black.

 

Taharka's body was like a lighted match. As the fire continued to burn, the blacker the matchstick became. Tiny bits and pieces fell from Taharka's blackened body like crumbling bits of charcoal.

 

"Stop, Taharka, are you going to end it like this?"

 

"Please, Bosha. Prove that Akale was wrong, and…"

 

There's just a little bit left. Just a little longer, and Murjana would come to her senses. Edulis believed so. But why?

Edulis tried to stop Taharka but realized too late. Everything happened in a flash. The white light burned hot, and the witch's poison quickly eroded Taharka's body.

 

"Prove to me that I made the right choice one last time."

 

"What??"

 

Those were Taharka's last words.

 

"When have you ever made the wrong choice!"

 

However, the words did not reach Taharka. He had already turned as black as charred firewood. At the same time, the horn on Murjana's forehead snapped and broke, rolling across the floor.

 

Edulis's body had hardened, as had Taharka's. Bosha, who had intervened between the Kingdom Astania and Empire Ur many times, knew. Taharka was a soldier. He had never made a wrong choice. It was Granadilla who messed up the consequences of his choices!

 

Is this it? Is this how it ends so quickly?

 

Suddenly, he remembered the Bosha of the past. A dead Bosha, eroded by the witch's poison.

Beside him was Laotou, her face contorted. He couldn't see Ygraine's face in his blindness, but she probably had a similar face to Laotou's.

 

Edulis realized what a burden he had placed on Laotou and Ygraine, what a burden he had become.

 

"I will not allow you to be called Emperor of the Ruins. You must....'

 

Before Edulis could digest Taharka's death,

 

"That's not fair." Something said.


"What is this?"

 

The butterfly tattoo on Murjana's cheek flew open. Then it morphed into the shape of a blue serpent, thicker than a grown man's forearm. 


It wriggled and rose from the sand and became a blue sphere. A figure hovered above the sphere— auburn hair, black horns, butterfly tattoos, black robes down to his knees, and a childlike expression...

 

It was Akale.

 

But it was not the same intimidating figure Edulis had encountered in Trisis. No curses were spreading around it, no oppressive feeling of being submerged in a swamp. It was clear this was not Akale's true form.


Nevertheless, an Akale was Akale. As soon as the serpent turned into an Akale, a powerful wave of magic washed over Edulis and Ishkur. Edulis was thrown to the ground, and Ishkur fell from his Velox.

 

"And what the hell are you saying? That I don't know humans. Don’t you know how many years I've lived?"

 

Unlike before, her voice was not playful. Akale scowled, her face contorting like a child deprived of a toy.

 

"You hypocrite!" Akale kicked Taharka's coal-like body. Black shards crumbled to the sand. "You disgusting hypocrite! I hate your kind the most! Those who talk about Luthea and pretend their deaths are noble!”

 

Akale continued to kick furiously. Taharka's body, hardly recognizable as once human, shattered and scattered on the ground. Still unsatisfied, Akale stomped on the fragments of Taharka, shouting.

 

"Very well, I'll show you that your death is futile! Let's start over from the beginning, come on!"

 

With that, Akale transformed back into her blue serpent form and crawled over to Murjana, who was cowering on the ground. Once again, it sought to devour her mind.

 

"Damn it...! Just when I thought it was over!" Ishkur sighed.


But hadn't Taharka seen this coming?

 

The fragments of Taharka crumbled away. They disintegrated rapidly like something weathered for decades or centuries, leaving only dust. Among the dust, it was revealed— a lump of magick, the stuff Taharka had spent eighty years honing.

 

Since much of it had fallen to Murjana, it was much smaller in size, but the energy it emitted still rivaled the light of Luthea.

 

As the witch's poison consumed him, Taharka melted his soul to make one final refinement. He channeled his will into the remaining magick.

 

Within the scattered debris on the ground, it crouched like a hibernating frog. Then, focusing only on Akale, it gathered strength, and with all its might, leaped from the ground. As it did, it turned into a bunch of white butterflies, flapping its wings, and merging back together in a form of an arrow. Then a spear. Like a meteor streaking across the night sky, it flew through the air.

And finally, it pierced through the head of a blue serpent. 


The snake collapsed on the spot, falling heavily. As it lay there, its blue eyes glaring ominously, it said, "...Wait. I'll show you your ugly true colors."

 

With those words, its body turned to dust and scattered into the air.

 

"We have to move fast, they're coming for us!" Ishkur shouted. Edulis trudged across the sand with every step, blood gushed from his legs. Edulis stood in the scattered remains of Taharka. Swept by the desert winds, the fragments of the Taharka were already covered in sand. Edulis scooped up a handful of the sand and stuffed it into his pocket.

 

Then he called out to Murjana.

 

"Move, Murjana."

 

"I'm sorry... I'm sorry, Edulis.... How can I..."

 

Murjana couldn't move. Her legs wouldn't give way, and she sank to the ground, tears streaming down her face. Edulis scooped her up and hoisted her into the Velox.

 

"Let's head northwest."

 

***.

 

No one can pursue Bosha in the desert. The desert is always changing with the sandy winds, but Bosha remembers every place with an innate sense.

 

It was a journey that should have taken half a day, but they took a long detour to prevent being followed.

 

Murjana was distraught, for she remembered everything she had done when Akale had entered her body.


"I caused Taharka's death. Because of me, Edulis was seriously injured. What kind of a person am I? Why did I leave Kaldura?”

 

If only Akale had completely taken over her body and mind, then she could think that it wasn't her doing. But that wasn't the case. She was conscious. She knew what she was doing but couldn't resist. She couldn't counter Akale's voice. She had no conviction or strength to do so. Deep down, she believed Akale was right.


She hated Kaldura. She hated the fact that no one liked her. It didn't seem fair.

 

 - I hadn't done anything wrong. I had always tried so hard. Why should I be the only one treated like this?

 

 She hated Edulis for telling her to go back to Kaldura.

 

 - I wanted to be helpful.

 

She was wrong. It was self-rationalization. Akale was right. She left Kaldura because she wanted Edulis' attention. She put up a good front, but inside she was a fool with no plan. Weak enough to be controlled by a few words from Akale...

 

She couldn't say sorry to Edulis anymore. Even saying that felt shameless. Murjana kept her head down, lips sealed, except when she was riding Velox.

 

"Hey, aren't you going to eat? We've got a long way to go." From a rocky crevice at the bottom of the canyon, Ishkur held out a grilled desert lizard to Murjana. "Come on, we're in this together. Akale knows our faces, and she doesn't seem to like us."


Murjana was still silent. 


"If you don't want to eat, then don't. Just don't be a burden."


"A burden......."

 

Murjana stared blankly at the floor. Yes, she was a burden. She was a burden, and to think she was going to brag about finding a sandworm nest.

 

"Edulis, you stop too and eat something."

 

Edulis had been preoccupied for some time. A pure white energy coursed through his body. Sometimes it poured down like a waterfall, other times it flowed like ripples on a lake.

 

'How can he be so white and clean? 'Edulis's heart must be pure and clean, unlike mine....'

 

All sorts of thoughts swirled in Murjana’s head. Thoughts that were attacking her. Half-wit, Murjana. She should have stayed in Kaldura, get mocked and ridiculed, why come out here…

She couldn't sleep, her mind racing. She stood by the cliff and thought. It would have been better if Taharka had lived. Or better yet, if someone had cut her throat and killed her...

 

"Murjana," Edulis called from behind her. "Don't beat yourself up. Murjana."


Murjana turned away slowly, her voice sounding like it was submerged in a swamp. "Edulis, I have committed an irreparable sin, against you, against Taharka. How can I pay for this sin?"

She couldn't speak without sobbing. How could she have the face to say such things?

 

"I would rather be a rolling grain of sand. A grain of sand would not have fallen for Akale's words!"

 

"Murjana."

 

Edulis placed a hand on top of Murjana's head. Then he spoke firmly.

 

"Do you have time to wallow in self-pity right now?"

 

Murjana blinked. She didn't know what Edulis was talking about.

 

"Look into your heart, Murjana, see what's there."

 

What could be there? Probably just the disgusting thoughts influenced by Akale. Murjana did not want to look inside herself. But pressed by Edulis's firm tone, she complied.

 

And then she saw it. An aura floated within her that was not the same as her own.

 

It was the magick that Taharka had given to Murjana. 

 

*** 

It took them two days to reach the northwest corner of the continent. The Tomb of the Royal Family, long since destroyed by the witches' forces. Huge tombstones and imperial mausoleums have crumbled into the shade. There were springs and forests nearby, so food was easy to come by.

 

It was a perfect place for beggars to hide and live.

 

"Oh... You're safe, Ed!" One of the beggars greeted Edulis. Disheveled black hair, a bushy unkempt beard, and clothes stained with dirt. He looked every bit the part of a beggar.


"Yes, Father."

 

He'd sent his family and all of Ygraine's clan here before going to the Holy City in case of emergencies. It seemed likely they would target Edulis's kin first. 


Since the fact that Edulis was Bosha and Ygraine was Lutea had spread through Enri's group, it wasn't difficult to persuade them. 


Wasn't a life of hope and following Lutea's will better than a life of being stuck in Kaldura with no purpose?

 

The Ascidian Council had brought them here as “slaves”. The Fey family itself, feigning outrage at their disappearance, is conducting a superficial search. For the time being, they should be safe. 

 

"We'll finish up here, and then we'll go to Ascidia," Ishkur said. "You haven't forgotten, have you? We need to find our mother."

 

Edulis nodded. Edulis had a reason to go to Ascidia as well. The last battle between Ygraine and Granadilla was fought on Mastaba Hill. There might be some clues there.

 

"We'll need disguises to get around Ascidia."

 

It was during this conversation when Murjana, who had been silent for days, spoke up.

"It's brazen of me to ask... but I have a favor, Edulsis." 


"What is it?"


"Can you teach me swordsmanship and magick?"


Edulis noticed. The look in Murjana's eyes was nothing like it had been a few days ago.

 

Murjana said. "Akale must die at my hands."






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