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In a World without God Chapter 64

The night breeze was chilly. Clouds obscured the moon, and only the eyes of the rats scurrying to and from the ruined building glowed. But the rats made no sound. They were too busy scurrying away as if they were expecting an earthquake. For them, Edulis' aura was a harbinger of disaster. 


In the center of the square on the Fey estate, Edulis dug a pit. Kurzina's head was placed in it. 


"Edulis, what are you doing?" Murjana asked. Her face was stern, jaw clenched, teeth clicking together. Edulis didn't answer her but stared at Kurzina's face in the pit. Her head looked like it could open its eyes at any moment and speak the words of Lutea. 


“Why are you making her a grave?!"


Murjana's outcry went unanswered as Edulis pondered,


'It's twisted. How did things become so twisted?'


Kurzina was pure. Even if her judgment was misguided and misinformed, her heart was driven by a longing for justice, for goodness, for Lutea. She knew the pain of others, was capable of repentance for wrongs, and was capable of doing good. 


"Edulis, you cannot be... mourning Kurzina's death?"


Murjana was also pure. There is no evil in her heart. Her anger and hatred were formed out of her feelings for Edulis. Even the black butterflies fluttering in her cheeks and eyes were born from that purity.


"Edulis!"


Edulis wished that both Kurzina and Murjana would live in Lutea's world. May they never have to take up arms. To live in harmony, trusting each other, and sharing their joys and sorrows. But then everything got twisted. Murjana plunged a knife into Kurzina's throat. Of the two people who were supposed to live in Lutea's world, one had lost her life and one had lost her heart. 

 

How did this happen, what went wrong, and where did it go wrong? It was as if someone who wanted everything to get twisted had stepped in and played a trick on them. 


Edulis gritted his teeth until they crackled, then stood up from his seat, without covering Kurjina's grave with soil. Then he asked,


"Murjana. Kurzina's body is still inside Curtis' prison, right?"

"Why?"


Hearing that, Edulis began to pace. 


"Edulis, where are you going?"

 

"To Curtis."

 

Hearing that, Murjana's face turned pale, as if she had just heard the news of her parent's death. By now, the guards would have realized Kurzina's death and would be stirring. There was no point in joining the commotion.


"No, no. you can't go."


Black butterflies fluttered in Murjana's eyes. Poison and curses spread everywhere. The ground was parched, and the rats and bugs were scurrying about. 


"Why are you risking your life for nothing? What are you going to do with the body of a traitor?"


 Edulis looked into Murjana's eyes and said, "Step aside, Murjana."

 

"It's none of our business, Edulis, whether that body is torn to shreds and left on the side of the road or cut into pieces and fed to pigs!"


 No, for Edulis, it was as important as Lutea's soul. 


"Edulis... Do you prefer that dead girl over me, alive? Because I'm tainted by the witch, and she's a follower of Lutea? Then..."


Murjana spread her arms in front of Edulis. Tears streamed from her eyes, like lava molten by hatred. 


"Kill me. For not believing in Lutea, for embracing the power of the witch."


Then Edulis drew his sword. Murjana squeezed her eyes shut. Edulis threw his entire body into the sword swing, landing in a parabolic trajectory, eventually landing behind Murjana.


"Edulis...! Why...!"


There was no way Edulis could have struck Murjana. For him, both Kurjina and Murjana were important. He believed they were all Lutea's people.


 ***


The tower of Curtis Prison had an emergency call.


The Curtis Prison Tower, located on the northern outskirts of Vaidor, is one of Astania's most secure imprisonment facilities. It stands tall in the middle of a sandworm-infested wasteland, and its guards are expertly trained. It was originally built as an interception facility against the witches' armies and is equipped with many devices to prevent outside intrusion. Yet, this incident had occurred. Unbeknownst to anyone, Kurjina, arrested for treason, had died before her trial.


"Did you check everything? How the hell did someone get past the artillery?!"


The prison tower is equipped with enchanted artillery. Dozens of cannons open fire when someone without registered magic approaches. 


"Warden, sir... there’s....there's no sign of the cannons being activated."

 

"What do you mean, they've been working fine for decades and now they're malfunctioning?"

 

"No, I just checked it and it's working fine."

 

"Then what are you saying?! Even if we were getting invaded from the clouds, the guns would still work!"


The warden scowled and shook his shoulders in exasperation. A prisoner being assassinated before trial... this was unprecedented in the history of Curtis Prison Tower.


"Why does this have to happen during my tenure?!"


There was no escaping the blame. To mitigate the fault, they needed at least a clue about the intruder. But there was nothing. No cracked walls, tunnels, or bent iron bars. Kurzina had just died inside her cell.


"Kurzina was holding a dagger. Could it be suicide? The shackles were undone, too..."

 

"Shut up, don't you know that's a bigger problem! An inmate of Curtis's committing suicide! Hide that dagger, now, and don't let it get within earshot of anyone!"

 

"What?! Uh...."


 At that point, the door opened. One of the guards came running up, panting. 


"Warden sir, there's an intruder! Someone is approaching the tower!"

 

"What the hell?! Lookout! Lookout! Report the situation!"

"Sir, two of the front artillery have been destroyed! No, three... Four now...."

 

"Is it a rebellion? Does the opponent have magical weaponry?"


"No, sir! It’s... just one person!"


Muttering some nonsense, the warden snatched the observation device away. In the scope, he saw a silver-haired boy. There was no magical weaponry. The only weapon was a single sword.

 

"That's...."


***.


Edulis walked at a pace that was neither too slow nor too fast. Like the gait of a funeral procession. He didn’t even try to dodge the magical bullets flying towards him.

 

"Listen, it must be something in human form but consider it a large demonic beast and set up a defense!"

 

"Wait... Silver hair, inhuman strength, invisible sword strikes... Isn't that the murderous Edulis?"

 

"A demon! A demon!"


The thick iron armor splintered under Edulis' sword. Kicking the charging soldiers in the stomach, Edulis reached the tower. 


"Warden, you must flee, we cannot stand against them!"

 

"We need to call for reinforcements! The Kingdom's Heavy Infantry is stationed nearby, isn't it?"


"If we do that, I'll be held responsible..."


"All artillery has been destroyed. You can't avoid responsibility now. Please issue an order!"


Kicking the stomachs of the charging soldiers, and slashing at the weapons they held, Edulis climbed the stairs of the tower. Looking inside the bars, one by one.


"Not here."

 

"Edulis," Murjana called after him, her voice low and hushed. "Reinforcements will be here soon. Your face is known, and the entire kingdom will be your enemy, all because of Kurzina's body."


Murjana's black magick tangled in Edulis's feet, but he climbed the stairs unperturbed. 


"There is a way. I can help you. It's not too late. Turn back, and we kill everyone who saw us.

 

"Not here, either."

 

"Edulis...."

 

"Stop interfering, Murjana."


With his sword and his sharp words, Edulis cut off Murjana's black magick. Then he continued forward. 


"Found it."

  

***


Edulis picked up Kurzina's body. The tattered rags of her prisoner's uniform were stained with blood. There was a pool of blood where her head had been, and her white, thin limbs had turned blue from the loss of blood. 


Edulis lowered his head and stared at Kurzina's severed neck. That expression, that gaze… Murjana felt something writhing inside her. It felt like vomiting centipedes or spiders.

 

"Edulis.... Do you think she is worthy of pity?" 


Edulis didn't answer and continued examining the body. Murjana drew her sword. She felt compelled to cut the body Edulis was holding into pieces. Cut it to pieces, and scatter it far and wide so that Edulis could not find it. 


As Murjana approached, they heard a voice from the back of the stairs.


"Is that really Edulis?"

 

"Yes, that's right, I'm pretty sure it's him who broke into Curtis and killed Kurzina!"

 

"How dare you interfere with the judicial process of a divine kingdom!"


The sound of footsteps coming up the stairs was heavy. 


"There he is. Edulis is here!"

 

"Silver hair, black curved sword, it must be him."


It was the Kingdom's heavy cavalry. A troop led by Mukhaji came toward Edulis with long spears, and Edulis moved his head, but it wasn't the heavy cavalry he saw. 


"Murjana, why did you lie?"


Murjana raised her sword. Her searing gaze swept over Kurzina's body. 


"Put that filthy thing down, Edulis. We need to go back, and kill all the witnesses."


Black smoke curled from the butterfly tattoo on Murjana's cheek. 


"I asked you, why did you lie to me?" he asked.

 

Countless spear blades rushed toward Edulis. Blades that grew sharper and longer with each passing moment. It was the specialty of the heavy cavalry. 


"Charge, be mindful of the narrow terrain!"


Edulis's neck was scratched by a spear blade, and blood flowed. 


"How dare you." Murjana's venom spread through the hall, but Edulis remained staring at her.


"The cut on the neck, it's not from your sword. There are marks of a stab wound made by a short straight sword." Edulis's voice growled like a wolf. Murjana lowered her head.


The bars around Murjana rusted. The corroded bars lost their strength and crumbled, but the prisoners inside the cage dared not come out for fear of Murjana. 


"Second unit, no need to be afraid! Charge the enemy! Third unit, throw your spears at the enemy!"


 At the moment when the heavy cavalry attacked, Murjana said.


"Why does that matter? If I killed those who lost faith, blamed, and attacked you, does it really matter?! It's like weeding or killing a wolf that preys on sheep. Edulis, why do you have such an expression?"


Edulis's face twisted. The heavy cavalry charged toward him in unison. Murjana continued.


"It is of no consequence. What matters is that we escape this moment. I can no longer allow them to harm you."


At that moment,

 

"Murjana.” The voice was neither loud nor soft, but as sharp as an awl made of ice and as cold as a polar chill. 

The soldier who was about to throw his spear stopped in his tracks.  He felt if he moved, his neck would be severed immediately. Cold sweat formed on his hands and forearms. A sharp sensation spread from the pit of his stomach. They say that one freezes in the presence of a dragon's roar, could this be what it feels like? The soldier realized that all the other soldiers around him had fallen into the same state. No one could move. Even breathing was a struggle.    


"Nothing else matters. Right now, the most important thing is your answer to my question." Edulis said. "Tell me, why did you lie?"






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