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In a World without God Chapter 45

"What should we do?"

 

"What can we do? We're supposed to go around the outer wall, we weren't told otherwise, so... should we just keep going?"

 

"Should we? Uh, I don't know."

 

The guards on the outer walls of the fortress were neither willing to actively cooperate with the witch nor did they have the courage to confront her; they just wanted to keep their mouths shut and repeat their assignments. Edulis and the children made it out of the fortress safely.

 

Windswept waves crashed against the rocks, and the sun had just set, leaving only a faint glimmer on the horizon. Edulis turned to face Ramu, the mermaid with aquamarine hair, on the shore.

 

Ramu said. "We're going to run away together. Now that Mevava, our watcher, has fallen, we have only one chance. We're going to hide in the depths of the sea, far from land, so that the witch won't find us."

 

 Edulis's expression had been stoic when he'd first met her, but now it was relaxed.

 

"Thank you…” Ramu added. “I had hopes for you that were smaller than a conch shell, and the results came back as big as a whale. We may have to live a life of hiding and being hunted, but our hearts are much freer. Do you have any idea how much that means to us?" With that, Ramu handed Edulis a small slip of paper. On the slip of paper was a spell.

 

"I have no intention of attacking the witch," Ramu said, "but if you continue to fight her, and the time comes when you need our help, recite the spell there, and I, and any other warriors who agree with me, will come to your aid."

 

"I understand, but isn't there something you need to do before you leave?"

 

The mermaid has manipulated the memories of the Garug through song, so they don't even realize their family is missing. That was what Edulis was asking for. To restore the people's memories.

 

"I can do it," she says, "but... do you really think we should do it? You're going to send a peaceful village into despair in an instant. Is that really right?"

 

 Edulis knew what the outcome would be but believed the answer was already determined.

 

"All things must go according to the laws of Uraeus. A parent's affection for a child is like water flowing from top to bottom. If your song has distorted that flow, shouldn't it be restored?"

 

"Alright...if you say so." Ramu nodded, then climbed up to the tallest rock in the vicinity. Once there, she cleared her throat a few times and then began to sing.

 

It was a magical song. It was a song that entered through the ears and left through the heart. As he listened, old memories began to surface in Edulis' mind. The days of learning the sword from Karayan, the days of following Ygraine.

 

About a verse into the song, they began to hear footsteps. Thud, thud, thud


It was the sound of many feet. The footsteps were coming toward the shore. The children, who had been sleeping under the shade of the rocks at the shore, woke up to the sound of footsteps. Startled and trembling with fear, they clung to Muriana.

 

 "Uh, miss...."

 "It's okay, nothing will happen."

 

The people on the shore stared at Ramu, as if they were looking at a distant star in space.

 

"Such a beautiful song." Someone said. He stared at Ramu, and then his mouth dropped open as if something had suddenly occurred to him, and his face contorted in an instant.

 

"Kinu... where is Kinu? My son... my son!"

 

Then, as if it were contagious, the faces of those around him began to contort as well, as they all realized something.

 

"He's not here! He said he was going fishing a month ago and never came back! Why didn't we know? Why didn't we look for him?"


"My daughter! Someone came at night and took her away! I didn't realize then...."

 

People falling to their knees and crying. People running around in a panic. People hurrying back to their homes.

 

"Murjana."


At Edulis's signal, Murjana took the children and stepped to the front of the crowd. Then, from the back of the crowd, she heard a voice. Coughing and wheezing due to asthma, Grandma Laura called Elena's name as loudly as she could.

 

"There you are, my beautiful granddaughter!"

"Grandma!" Elena ran toward her grandmother. The others saw her and began to look at the other three children.


Elena, who had just been captured, was in better shape, so she was easier to recognize. The others were skinny, with bulging cheekbones and black dirt all over them.


After a while, a woman stepped forward. "Tanya... Tanya! It's our daughter! That must be our daughter Tanya!"

 

She ran, pushing past the people around her. Like a person wandering in the desert and finding water, she groped her way to her and sat down in front of the child.

 

"Tanya! What's going on, how did you end up like this?"

 

Seeing her mother, the child's expression softened. Her fear and worry melted away. 

 

 "Mommy... I... I became a monster, but that big boy turned me back."

 

"A monster? You became a monster? What do you mean?"


"Well... a black crab just got into my body and.... My body just swelled up... and it hurt...."

 

"Oh my God, my dear, are you okay now?"

 

"Yeah. I haven't been sick since I met that boy."

 

"Is that so? I'm sorry... I’m a mother and yet I didn’t even remember my own daughter...."

 

Saying that the woman lowered her head towards Edulis, almost bowing.

 

"Thank you... thank you...."

 

Afterward, several others came forward, recognizing the children as their own. A similar scene repeated itself. Those who found their child held them, sobbed, and bowed before Edulis and Murjana. They repeated the words of gratitude like a mantra.

 

"Thank you. For bringing him back to us, for letting us remember him...."

 

Edulis and Murjana stared at them with stony faces. For behind the relief was great despair.

 

"Our child... have you seen our child, with eyes as round as coins?"

"Have you seen my father? He has a very bent back...."

 

Murjana's lips quivered. She wanted to say something comforting, but at the same time, she knew it would be pointless. In the end, no words came out.

Edulis reached out an arm and pushed Murjana against his back. Then he announced, "These children are the only ones who survived. These children are the only ones left alive.

 

 And with that, the peace of the village was over.

 

 ***

 

 Edulis and Murjana spent the night at Grandma Laura's house.

 

"Edulis, your hair is...."


"The spell is broken, without Ishkur, we'll have to get some hair dye."

 

Both had shadows in their eyes. After turning the village's peace into despair, they couldn't sleep peacefully. They just pretended to sleep until morning and then went downstairs.

 

"Are you up?" Elena asked. "Big brother, why did you change your hair color? What's your real hair color?"

 

 "This is my real hair color," Edulis replied. Grandma Laura didn't seem surprised to hear this.

 

"Kids, sorry to say this as soon as you wake up. Would you like to go outside?"

 

Hearing that, Edulis opened the door. There were a lot of people there. Most of the people who had gathered on the shore last night were there. None of them had slept. Puffy eyes, ruddy cheeks. Their faces were all grim, but there was a hint of grit in them. And they all held weapons in their hands: spears, axes, swords.

 

Silver hair is known to be a symbol of witches. Because of this, a few people flinched at the sight of Edulis' hair, but only a few. Who could blame him for saving the children?


"We want to know the truth." The man at the front of the group said.

 

"We want you to tell us. Who harmed our family and how. How this happened in a world ruled by Lutea? What is the truth that you young ones know but we adults do not? Towards where should our hearts, sharp as blades, be directed?"

 

When he finished, the man clenched his teeth as if to break his molars. Edulis met his searing gaze. They had a right to know the truth, and so he told them what he knew— that the world was ruled by Granadilla, not Lutea, that history was distorted, and that the people of Garug had lost their families by Granadilla's will.

 

Someone said. "I heard this in secret from a man from the west. I had no idea it was true. I was a blind man with eyes open. Only after losing my child did I come to see!"

 

The man at the front said.

 

"Then we will stand up to the witch, and we will do so at all costs. Even if it means losing our lives, we will at least cut off the tips of her claws, for we cannot live otherwise!"

 

Edulis shook his head. "I understand your sentiment, but you will not be able to cut off even the tip of the witch's claw. You will only die in vain."


"Even if that's true, we can't stay here."

 

Puzzled eyes gathered around Edulis, and he spoke.

 

"You may not be the sword that stabs the witch in the throat, but you can be the soldier's boots, you can be the arrow, the shield."


"What does that mean?"

 

"Garug is close to the harbor and has a large marketplace. All sorts of information and supplies come and go, and it's a key point of defense against enemies coming down from the north. Food is plentiful, which means it's a good place for a supply base."

 

 At Edulis' words, the men looked at each other.

 

 "When Granadilla's forces rise to the surface, war will begin. You will conceal what you know, and when the time comes, you will join Lutea's forces. Why risk your lives now, when the supplies you procure will soon be the sword that pierces Granadilla?"

 

The people were unwilling to accept. It was hard to hold back their boiling hearts for now. They talked for a long time, but in the end, they had to admit that Edulis was right.

 

 "Very well, we will prepare everything for that day: spears for the soldiers, hobgoblins to ward off magic, velox to charge into the enemy lines, and dry provisions in the larders. We will sell our goods and eat less, and fill the storehouses with only the best. So please, let the pain we have suffered be the sword that pierces the witch."

 

 Edulis nodded.

 

 ***

 

From her perch on Masataba Hill, Edulis checked everywhere to make sure there was no one around, and then he touched the shadows. A black thread of shadow wrapped around his body.

He opened his eyes to find himself in a shadowy forest. Before him was the cocoon of Laotou.

 

"Bosha...."

 

Laotou's expression was still shadowed. She held Lutea's heart and stared blankly at her axe spear. The spear she had lent to Taharka.

 

"Aruru told me that Taharka is dead."

 

"Yes."

 

"Who can understand this heart? One by one, those I used to mingle with are disappearing in Granadilla's play, and I can only watch. Unable to do anything!"

 

Laotou dropped her head and shouted. Who could dare say they understood her heart? Edulis approached her without a word and extended his hand.

 

"Bosha...?"

 

In his hand, Edulis held a teardrop-shaped shard that glowed silver.

 

"I found it, though it's only one piece."

 

Laotou stared at the shard as if it were a portrait of an old friend. 

 

"Lady Lutea…"

 

Laotou gingerly accepted the shard.

 

"I miss you, Lady Lutea."

 

At her touch, the shard glowed brightly. Then, as if it were a drop of water, it rolled across her palm, landing squarely on Lutea's heart, the silver apple.


There was a ripple. Like the surface of water disturbed by a pebble, the air wavered. A breeze blew, fresh as mint. A breeze that caressed the grass.

 

"Ygraine."

 

Edulis turned to see Ygraine lying on the grass. Her eyes were closed and she was asleep. A face that Edulis had imagined over and over again in his mind.

 

Ygraine's voice came to him. The words she had spoken to Granadilla.

 

- I love you too.

 

Edulis couldn't understand what that meant. Ygraine had pointed her sword at the witch, too, and he wondered what kind of love Ygraine was talking about. Even if you love everyone in the world, you can't love a witch like that. Look at what she has done. Look at all the tragedies she has caused. Edulis thought. 

 

"I feel like I'm just parroting your words. You've told me so many things, and I'm still lost."

 

Edulis reached out toward the image of Ygraine. Memories of Bosha flashed through his mind.

When listening to Ygraine, it seemed as if there was nothing unclear in the world. Ygraine's stubbornness, her firm will, appeared as though it could break through any barrier.


"Won't you tell me once more?"


To look into Ygraine's eyes, to hear the voice from her lips, would make everything clear.

 

But at Edulis's touch, Ygraine's form crumbled into particles of light.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 


 





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