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In a World without God Chapter 51


“Lutea, O Lutea. There's no time for prayers, we must flee before those two demons set their gaze upon us.” 

 

The Arakir village was in an uproar. Blood from the five corpses soaked the floor, and people screamed and ran out of the village. 

 

In the midst of it all, Edulis stood still and looked at Murjana's face— ivory hair that reminded him of desert sand, snow-white cheeks with a hint of milkiness, emerald eyes that still held an innocent glow, all stained with blood. 


"Why did you kill him?" Edulis asked. 


"Because he was evil," Murjana answered. 


"Why did you judge them to be wicked?"

 

"Because, Edulis, your sword was pointed at him."


Edulis was silent. What words could hold meaning in this situation? Should he tell her about Bosha, who had pointed his sword at a good man, thus destroying the trust this innocent fifteen-year-old girl had placed in him? Should he tell her about Lutea's teaching that even the wicked should be embraced with love, and should Edulis be the one to say it?


Murjana dropped the missionary's head to the floor. Then she took Edulis's hand in hers. A hand covered in blood.


"Are you still going to tell me to go the other way?"


Edulis shook his head. He knew that even if he did, Murjana would not comply. "Very well, Murjana. From now on, you are my sword."

 

"Yes." Murjana smiled with a wry expression. 


"Murjana, have you ever seen a sword move of its own accord and cut someone?"

 

"No."

 

"Right, so neither should you. You can only cut people at my will."

 

"That was my intention. I will only cut down your enemies. The deceitful hordes that follow Granadilla!"


Edulis furrowed his brow. "No, that's not it. You must understand my words, Murjana. You are to cut down people only for me. Your will and emotions should not be a part of it. Just like this sword I hold does not hate anything, you should be the same. Understand?"

 

"Huh? Uh, yeah…"


Edulis gripped Murjana's shoulders and repeated his words several times. 


Walking the same path? Not at all. Edulis had no such intention. The sins, the guilt, the overflowing hatred, the resentment, Murjana should not share any of it. All of it should belong to him alone, Edulis thought. He and Murjana could not be together until the end.


“Muriana, you must live in Lutea's world.”


 ***


"Ack! Ack!" The white-robed priest groaned in pain. 


"Tell me, what are you trying to do with the forest people?"


The same thing was happening in the Kawani tribe village as in the Arakir tribe village. People fleeing in hysterics, warriors lying stunned, the ground stained with blood. The only difference was that this time they hadn't killed all the missionaries. Edulis had a sharp knife pressed against the missionary's sternum.


The sternum, which is located about a hair's breadth from the Adam’s apple, is very hard and can be stabbed with a knife or awl without causing much damage. But while it is not life-threatening, it is also extremely sensitive to pain. Bosha was a master torturer and knew dozens of ways to inflict pain without killing.


"Ugh, ack.... aren't you going to kill me if I tell you?"

 

"Well, I don't know about that. What I do know is that if you don't say something, this moment is going to be very long.” 


“Ack! Ack!”


Luckily, Murjana wasn't watching this horrific scene. Edulis had assigned her the task of intimidating the people, snatching away the cast dagger and breaking it.


"This is to collect the twisted souls!"

 

"Collecting souls, for what?"

 

"To fulfill the great will of Granadilla!" 


To find out what that great will was, Edulis put more force into the dagger that plunged into the man's sternum. 


"Aah!! I don't know! I really don't know, except that my superiors consider it very important...."


 Edulis changed the question. 


"How do you plan to gather the souls?"


The man coughed. “You wretched one, the time has come for the Harvester to descend. I hope you will fall prey to it." 

 

"The Harvester...."


As far as Edulis knew, there were many ways to extract the soul from a living human. The most horrific of these is through a creature known as the Harvester. 

 

The Harvesters are black hooded and cloaked creatures that look human on the outside, but are anything but. Their bodies are crawling with insects, they reek of foul odor, and their faces are filled with long, slender tentacles. 

 

If a human touches one of its tentacles, it tears out his soul, and the pain is incomparable. 

 

"When is this 'soon' you speak of?"

 

"Ah... perhaps in three days or so...."


Edulis's eyelids quivered with anger. As Edulis sheathed his dagger, the priest shouted. 


"Why do you care about our affairs? Don't you eat chickens? Don't you eat pigs? It's only natural to live off of someone else's life, so what kind of sin is it to offer the souls of these savages to Lord Granadilla?"


Edulis blinked at him. 

 

"Isn't that right? The savages of the forests bear children like crazy, and to whose credit are they able to do so? We provide them with supplies! We take some of their lives in exchange for their safety and the survival of their species... What is wrong with that? Shouldn't they be grateful to us?"


Edulis did not reply. He swung his sword in silence. The missionary's head, which had fallen to the ground, no longer spoke. 


Whether his logic was right or wrong, Edulis was not troubled in the least, for in his mind the certainty of the truth stood like a pillar. The man who spoke these words should not be in Lutea's world. The savages of the jungle were more fitting for Lutea's world.


After slitting the missionary's throat, Edulis hurried away. He had to get the people out before the harvesters came. 


*** 


The problem is, that the people didn't even know what a "Harvester" was. The missionary had said they took "some" lives, so surely some of them had encountered the Harvesters before. And so, it was as if their memories had been manipulated. Not only that. Rumors had spread among the tribes that a demon in the form of a boy was on a killing spree, and most of them ran and hid at the first sight of Edulis. 


"Let's herd the sheep,” Edulis said. He drew blood from the missionary's body and covered himself. He then pulled out the entrails and wrapped it around himself. Murjana followed suit. 


"I'll set fire to the people's houses," said Edulis, "and you'll make sure they flee out of the jungle, blocking the other way."


Covered in blood and guts and smelling foul, they were like the apostles of hell. 


"So the rumors were true?"


"Child, come on, come on, come on!"

 

"You bastard! Get lost!"

 

People fleeing and warriors charging in.


"Behold, I am the incarnation of the witch Granadilla, and I have risen from the pits of hell!"


The warriors were not easily intimidated. Edulis needed a way to keep them from charging, so he gathered his magick. But now, unlike Bosha's, Edulis' magic flows freely. Edulis understood how the flow of magick can turn into flames. 

 

"Something that dances on straw is descending."


As he said this, a huge flame appeared, engulfing a house as tall as two men combined, and then licked its flames toward the neighboring building.

 

"Aaah!"

 

"Ah, the devil! The devil has engulfed our town in hellfire!"


It was the most effective spell for creating visual fear. Even those who had hesitated, disbelieving the rumors, fled in terror at the sight of the flames. Using this method, Edulis traveled to nine villages in two days, chasing people out and burning them to the ground. Black smoke rose endlessly through the jungle. 


"Ah! To lose the land passed down by our ancestors like this! I have no face to show to the elders in death!"


"How are we to live now? Lord Lutea, what have we done so wrong?"


The people grumbled and lamented and ran away from the flames and Edulis. It was inevitable. Riches and honor are not more important than souls. 


But when Edulis reached the tenth and last village…


"Master, the flames are getting fiercer!"

 

"Damn it, grab what you can!"


The flames consumed the buildings, and some people didn't move as they scattered in confusion. Velox running around in a panic, dozens of carts, and dozens of people diligently loading things into the carts.


"Shouldn't we run away?"

 

"We have to go, we have to go, but we can't leave all this behind. If we do, we’ll all be beggars!" 


The villagers were confused. 

 

"What are you going to tell your wife when you get home, that you're going to be out of the house for months on end, and coming back as a beggar?"

 

"That's right, you're right, get moving, grab everything you can!"


They were foolish, Edulis thought. They were about to lose their lives, but they couldn't leave because they were greedy for money.


"Aaah! The devil is coming!"

 

"Go! Go!"


But Velox didn't listen for the fire had agitated them. Edulis ran up to them. 


"Are you... are you letting us live?"


When Edulis did not swing his sword, the trembling men felt hopeful. 


"Drop the cart and get out of here," Edulis said in a low, gravelly voice. Then one of the men shouted.


"Oh, no! I can't leave the cart. I'd rather take my life!"


The man they called Master stepped forward and said "Devil, we'll give you a quarter of our wealth, so please leave and pretend you didn't see us!"


That wasn't the problem. The soul devourers were very close. It was urgent. 


"I said get lost." Edulis stomped his foot and the ground shook, the items on the floor shattered. 

 

Still, the people didn't move. People looked at the ground, searching for undamaged goods the people were loading into the carts...


The Master still knelt to Edulis and said. 


“Half! How about half?"


Just then, Aruru climbed on Edulis' shoulder and said. 


"Edulis! The rats say something nasty and smelly is walking into the jungle."


"What about the others? Did they run away?"

 

"Murjana did a pretty good job of impersonating the devil. These fools are the only ones left!"

 

"How far away are they from the harvesters?"

 

"If these guys take off at full speed from here, I think they might be able to get away...."


The merchants' faces showed their determination. Time was running out to convince them. Should he burn the wagons? Judging by the scattered items on the floor, it's unlikely they'd move if he set fire to it. If there were only one or two of them, he might be able to force them to move. 


Edulis turned away from the merchants. The merchants shouted.


"We're saved! Pack up quickly!"


 ***


"Edulis, are you really staying here for those idiots?"


Aruru said. Edulis stood on a path blocked on both sides by sheer cliffs. It was the only way into the jungle. 


"No, I stayed behind to screw over the witch's minions."

 

"Yeah? Not a good idea. I think you should run! The Harvesters are terrifying!" 


Edulis knew that. 


"Go to Murjana. Make sure she's leading them in the opposite direction from where they're coming from."

 

"Um... okay. I got it... Edulis, don’t be too stubborn and run away too."


Edulis shook his head, and Aruru dropped from his shoulders and ran across the ground. 


The merchants who couldn't abandon their carts. They, too, are Lutea's people. They have hurt no one, deceived no one. What Edulis sought now was simple.  If they were Lutea's enemies, kill them; if they were Lutea's people, protect them. 


By the time Aruru's figure had faded, they had arrived. Five Harvesters rode into the woods on neckless four-legged beasts. Five was an overkill. One harvester could easily devour a hundred souls.


"What's going on, why is the forest so quiet?"


A figure stepped out from among the five harvesters. As they removed their hood, a face Edulis recognized appeared.




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