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In a World without God Chapter 44

Humans are ugly. Humans do ugly things to survive in a filthy world. Endless suffering. Endless sacrifice. If one has to live in a dirty world, then people would rather be the executioner than the sacrificed. Is it wrong to think that way?


Granadilla says it's not wrong. She guarantees peace and happiness to the chosen ones. And we have been chosen. What greater glory could there be in this world? That was the thought most Ascidians had, and now there was a small crack in that thought. A crack so small it's almost invisible. A doubt as thin as a thread. 


A flurry of light chased away the darkness, and the children wrapped in white light shattered the circle of magic. It was a scene that clashed with what the Ascidians believed. They believed Granadilla's power overwhelmed Lutea. They thought Granadilla's world would go on forever. What if it didn't?

 

Many of the Ascidians could only stare at Edulis. Searching for answers to the questions in their minds. But others did not.


One cried out. “Ah, we have betrayed our faith. We have marred the world of Granadilla. We must repair the magic circle quickly. Chosen ones, return to your original form and reclaim the glory of Granadilla!”

 

With that, he drew a dagger, shaped like a snake’s tongue, and stabbed himself in the chest. Another one then shouted.

 

"Fear not! Granadilla embraces us for who we truly are! Let's drive out the hypocrites and add to the magic circle!"

 

This person also stabbed his chest with a dagger, followed by dozens of others. All had ecstatic expressions on their faces.

 

 Edulis and Murjana's pupils dilated as they watched.

 

"Murjana, look after Elena."

 

With that, Edulis rushed forward. He swung his sword at those Ascidians hesitating to follow suit. He targeted the blade of their daggers. Rolling across the floor, the dagger looked like a writhing black snake.

 

"What do you think you're doing?" Edulis asked in an angry voice. 


Then the Ascidian spoke, his voice trembling. "Uh... we... we must return to our original form."

"What do you mean, your original selves?!"

 

As Edelis shouted, a squirming sound began to be heard around him. It came from the corpses of those who had stabbed themselves. Soon, large faces crawled out of the corpses' chests. They looked like giant lizards with human faces, their backs covered in barnacle-like growths from which black pus flowed.


"Hehe…hehehe."

 

The faces laughed. They traced their fingers through the black pus on the floor and drew magic circle symbols.

 

"Heh, heh!"

 

The people around the transformed ones stumbled back. From the lizard's mouth came a sound like a chicken crowing with its throat twisted.

 

"What are ye, and why do ye not accept the light of truth?"

 

"Unbelievers! Those who hide their hearts! You are unworthy of Granadilla's blessing!"

 

As the lizard scolded those who had not taken up their swords, tentacles crawled out of its back and shot out like arrows aimed at the people around them.

 

Swoosh!

 

Edulis's sword sliced through the tentacles as it lunged for him.


Edulis furrowed his brow. He looked around sharply with his eyes like the blade of a sword. A few people holding daggers caught his eye. Edulis pushed through the lunging tentacles and ran toward them. Swiftly, he twisted their hands, kicked them in the back, and slapped their blades. He kicked the dagger away from them as it fell to the ground and shouted.

 

"Do you really believe that is what you are, what you are made of?" His voice sounded like a lion's growl.


The eyes of those who had dropped the dagger wandered, lost. "No, you were not born this way."

 

Edulis knew what the dagger was: a cursed object called the Witch's Tongue. It makes the bearer easily empathize with Granadilla's mind. The moment the dagger pierces the heart, the soul shatters and disperses, and Granadilla's energy takes its place.


The shattered soul never returns. This is why Edulis is so angry.

In the eyes of the people, he was like an enraged Fenrir or a dragon. He slashed lizard after lizard, kicked dagger-wielders, and rampaged through the underground. He resembled a watchdog protecting sheep from wolves. Edulis kept the lizards from drawing their magic circles while driving people to cover behind him.

 

Then, seeing an Ascidian hiding a child behind their back, Edelis shouted.


"You know how to long for, welcome, and embrace your children."


He shouted at a couple holding hands tightly.


"You know how to love, cherish, and protect others."


The lizard's head had been cut off, yet it was still alive and wriggling. Slender arms and legs grew from its head then it crawled on the ground. It chattered an endless stream of ugly words. But they were drowned out by Edulis's voice.

 

"You have known such heart since birth, so why do you think that is your true self?"

 

Bosha thought the same. He thought all humans were ugly. But Ygrainne said there was a light in Bosha's heart, too. Something shining through the chasm of jealousy, resentment, and hatred. That light is the human being that is Bosha.

 

Ygraine has always been waiting. For all humans to become who they were meant to be. Knowing that, Edulis could only sigh.

 

"How could you... you curse your own souls!"

 

Edulis' face was contorted in pain as he slashed at the lizard. The others watched in stunned silence, the cracks in their hearts growing wider and wider.

 

They kidnapped and imprisoned people. They experimented with their lives. Yet this boy says that the Ascidians too were born knowing love. He says that the ugly flesh crawling on the ground is not their true form. He even sympathizes with those twisted beings.


How could he do that?


No one said it out loud, but most had the same answer in mind.


He is the light of Lutea. The purest and most uncorrupted light, untouched by Granadilla's curse.


"Mother," Ishkur called to Petra. Ishkur's hand gripped his mother's hand preventing her from stabbing herself in the chest.

 

"What looks like the truth in your eyes, Mother?"

 

Petra didn't answer. Ishkur tugged on his mother's hand, which held no strength.

 

With a clang, the black dagger fell to the floor.


***

Edulis cut down all the lizards and used a purification spell on them. Then, the corpses of the lizards fell to the ground, turning into human skeletons. The people realized that Edulis even respected the lizards, giving them a human death.


Edulis looked at the scattered bones with a deeply sorrowful expression. Then, a man stepped forward and asked,


"Will the world of Granadilla end and the goddess Lutea return?"


"There will be," Edulis answered without hesitation, and the man asked again,


"Will the world be different when the goddess Lutea returns? Will humans no longer live at the expense of other humans?"

 

"It will certainly be different."

 

- Please make it a good world.

 

At Bosha's last words, Ygraine nodded unmistakably. She believes in humans and Edulis believes in her.

 

"Then, when such a world comes...." The man paused, then spoke. "Will we be... forgiven?" The man could barely look up as he said it.

 

Those who remain here now were those who have not stabbed themselves in the heart with a dagger. Those who could not ignore the question in the back of their minds. Those who saw Lutea's light, heard her voice, and were moved, if only for a moment.


Edulis became the wedge that split the chasm of their doubts. They began to see what they should have seen. The pieces of their conscience that they had turned a blind eye to until now.

 

“You will not be forgiven,” Edulis answered, then added. "Nevertheless, Lutea will love you."

 

With those words, the man's body collapsed. Sitting on his knees on the floor, he burst into tears. The black dagger clutched to his chest dropped to the floor.

 

Thud, thud, thud.

 

Following in his footsteps, people dropped their daggers to the ground, and the weight of their sins weighed down on their shoulders.

 

 Why hadn't I felt this weight before?

 I shouldn't have taken this dagger, this cursed dagger.


They mumbled to themselves. But there was no one to blame. It was their own choice to accept the dagger.

 

"Ishkur, you were a sweet child," Petra said. Memories of the past flashed through Petra's mind. Memories she hadn't remembered until now.

 

Ishkur loved animals. He once brought a fish from the neighbor's yard, drying for their cat. Petra took Ishkur to the neighbor to apologize. The elderly lady next door laughed heartily and handed them some fruit.

 

 "Why didn't I think of that? There's no way you, a human, would look like a monster."

 

 *** 

 

Asking for forgiveness seemed audacious. The remaining Ascidians thought so. None of them could raise their heads. Only Petra turned to Edulis and said.

 

"We will draw a new magic circle here. Gathering an energy similar to yours, we will create a barrier to protect Ascidian. A barrier impenetrable by Granadilla's power to protect the people here. We cannot undo what we have done, but we will live never forgetting our sins."

 

Edulis, Murjana, and the four children they had saved stood on the steps, while Ishkur stood between Edulis and Petra.

 

"I will stay here." Ishkur said to Edulis.

 

"My dear, you don't have to stay with us, you haven't done anything wrong!" Petra grimaced.

 

"If I hadn't been captured by Kindatu, my mother wouldn't have picked up the dagger, so I'm to blame."


"No, you were only four years old then!"

 

Petra tried to stop him relentlessly, but Ishkur was stubborn. Petra looked at Ishkur with tear-filled eyes and said. "We are going to lock ourselves in here. None of us will be allowed to go outside, where we will think about our sins over and over again. I don't want you stuck here with us."

 

Ishkur shook his head. "Mother, I want to share in your sins, that's my happiness."


"There must be another happiness out there, a happiness you don't know about yet...you must go find it."


"No, I won't. I've been looking for this happiness for twelve years."


"That's right…." muttered Edulis, looking at him. "Sooner or later, there will be no need for a barrier, and then you will have to pay for your sins in another way, and then I will come to break down the entrance."

 

Petra bowed toward Edulis. She pushed Ishkur's back. She wanted Ishkur to go with Edulis but Ishkur didn't budge.

 

Edulis watched them for a moment before climbing the stairs. Eventually, it was just Edulis, Murjana, and the four children on the ground. As soon as they reached the top, the ground shook and sealed the entrance as if it had been flat all along.

 

Once on the ground, Edulis pulled out what was in his arms. A piece no bigger than the palm of his hand. But there it was, shining, unswallowed by the darkness of Granadilla, a piece of Lutea.

 

He could add light to Lutea's heart. For the first time in 80 years.







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