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In a World without God Chapter 65


 A headless body lay in Edulis's arms. On a night when the moon hid behind clouds, Edulis treaded the rugged wasteland cautiously, holding the corpse as if cradling a precious glass artifact or a bag filled with gold coins, worried that even a single drop of blood might spill carelessly.


"Do not engage them directly! Keep your distance and throw your spears! Archers, do not cease fire! We cannot afford to give them a moment's rest. Even a dragon tires after three days and nights of pursuit!"


Mukaji shouted. The pursuing party, which had numbered only a hundred men, had swelled to about five hundred. The Curtis garrison had been joined by a company of heavy cavalry that had been stationed in Vaidor for a short time, as well as garrisons from the neighboring regions. 


 Murjana followed Edulis, her jaw clenched tight.


 - Tell me, why did you lie?


When Edulis asked, looking into her with his transparent, blank eyes, Murjana suddenly felt incredibly small. A childish anger swirled within her cramped heart. 


 - Edulis, she didn't trust you. But I am different! I have never doubted you. I only followed you, thought of you, acted for you, then why...


The words spilled out of her mouth in sobs that she could barely contain. 


 - Why aren't you looking at me? Why are you only looking at her?


Her heart felt like it was on fire. She couldn't lift her head. She couldn't bring herself to look into his eyes, too afraid to see herself reflected in them. Edulis was driven by a mission, and Murjana was held back by her own childishness.


 - I see. 


 With that, Edulis placed his hand on the top of Murjana's head. 


 - Let's go.


Murjana obeyed. Together, she and Edulis fought their way through the heavy soldiers and escaped Curtis. She could no longer shout for Edulis. She couldn't tell him to leave Kurzina's body behind. She knew that no matter what she said, Edulis would not follow through.

 

She still wanted to take Kurzina's body away from Edulis. But at the same time, she remembered Edulis's eyes looking at her.


It's over, Murjana thought as she watched Edulis' back as he ran. She must hate me now.


Her black, ugly heart was exposed. She gave it all to Edulis. What would Edulis say when the chase was over? Would he try to kill her and say that there shouldn't be anything like her in Lutea's world? No, he's a kind person, and he won't do that. Then, would he ask her to part ways and go their separate ways? No. She doesn't want to leave his side. She'd rather...

 

Murjana didn't care about the pursuing soldiers. All she could think about was Edulis. Then Edulis spoke. 


"Murjana."


She felt her heart sink. She was afraid of the words that would come out of his mouth next. Seb wouldn't be surprised if Edulis said goodbye at this point. But this soon? She wanted to stay with him just a little longer.......


"I'm looking at you," Edulis said. Still running, looking ahead. 

 

Murjana looked up, not sure what she'd heard. All she could see was Edulis' back and the back of his head.


"You're not looking," a childish whine escaped Murjana's mouth. As soon as she spat it out, she regretted it. She hadn't meant to say this. But Edulis spoke anyway.

 

"One does not need eyes to see. I have always been watching you." For a moment, Edulis's voice felt as warm as a spring breeze. "It is my fault for not letting you know, Murjana."


Murjana couldn't answer. Sobs threatened to escape if she opened her mouth.


"I want you to be happy. In Lutea's world."

 

The view of Edulis's back as he spoke felt incredibly lonely. She had to say something. But what? After fumbling with her lips for a while, she finally spoke up.


"Edulis, I'm...."


At that moment, Edulis stopped in his tracks. "Enemy."


Hundreds of soldiers stood in front of Edulis and Murjana. 


"Surrender, Edulis the Murderer! Kneel before the great army of Astania!" 


The soldiers in the front row held shields larger than a full-grown man's body, and behind the shieldmen, robed men held staves. Along with the kingdom's mages and heavy cavalry, they were among the kingdom's most elite troops. 

 

A magic circle was prepared beneath Edulis's feet, and the medium infantry followed behind. Edulis, holding Kurzina's corpse, slowly placed it in a large crevice between rocks to protect it from being disturbed.


White magick gathered around Edulis' sword. Edulis swung the crescent-shaped blade vertically and slammed it into the ground, causing a straight fissure to appear on the ground.


"Breaking a magic circle without touching the core... that’s impossible...."


Normally, the way to shatter a magic circle is to either kill all the casters or break the core. However, there's another, albeit unrealistic, method: forcefully breaking it with magic power that exceeds all the magic composing the circle. The elite mage corps of the kingdom had painstakingly constructed the magic circle and so breaking it forcibly was impossible for a normal human. However, Edulis could do it because he possessed the heart of Shamas, the apostle of Lutea, surrounded by an unprecedented amount of magick.


"Do not falter! Think of him as a dragon! It's a long game. Hold your ground until he's exhausted!"


But the odds were still stacked against Edulis. The enemy's strategy was effective: maintaining a solid formation and only attacking from a distance, especially since Edulis was trying not to kill them.


Murjana surveyed the surroundings. There was no escape. The siege line was tightly formed by the kingdom's elite soldiers. She could unleash curses and poison to kill them, but Edulis, who even cherished Kurzina's corpse, might hate her for it. But...


"Prepare the artillery, we must not stop attacking for a single moment!"


There was a look of exhaustion on Edulis's face, and it made Murjana think. 


Being loved by Edulis is not as important as protecting him.


Murjana stepped forward. The black butterflies in her eyes moved, and black energy began to envelop her body. It was then.


"What is this?!"


The enemy camp was thrown into disarray.


***


Shieldmen in the Kingdom's Mage Corps carry special shields. Made of rare metals, these magical shields are much thicker and heavier than the armor of the Heavy Cavalry. It repels not only physical attacks but also magic and curses. Only those who could wield these shields were qualified to become shieldmen of the Mage Corps. In the wars against the Ur Empire, this shield has never been pierced. The enemy had to figure out how to get past it and attack the mages behind it. But then....


BANG!


With a tremendous explosion, the shield shattered like a brass bowl struck a hammer. And it didn't stop there. Dozens of vortexes formed around the shattered shield, knocking back any soldiers in their path. In an instant, the formation collapsed. The soldiers didn't immediately understand what had happened before their eyes. They stared at their shattered shields in disbelief for a moment.


"Restore the formation! Do not scatter! The siege line must be maintained."

 

"The kingdom's magic shield is crumpled... I've never seen anything like this before, no matter what kind of beast I've fought...."

 

"Who-who is she...?"


The soldiers looked towards her. A woman with short, black hair. She had the pale face and slender limbs of a noble's scion, yet she held an axe spear that looked like it was twice her height. 


"Ah, it didn't cut. Is it because it's been 80 years? Let's try once more..."


With that, she swung the spear once more. The black blade drew a large arc, slicing through the air with a shriek as sharp as the cry of a strangled chicken.


The shield was cut in half by the axe spear. Three at once. The whirlwind created by the axe spear then caused many of the mages behind the shieldmen to fall backward. 


 "Yes, that’s it. Now I'm getting the hang of it."


 After muttering that, the woman began to swing her spear wildly, creating a miniature typhoon.


"Formation! Keep the formation...!"


The commander's shouts were in vain. How would they maintain ther formation in the face of an enemy who could shatter their magic shield, the pride of their kingdom, and create tempest with every move? They were at a loss. They could barely stand, let alone hold Edulis at bay. 

 

"Was it really necessary for me to follow you here, Lady Laotou?"


Behind Laotou, a woman in black robes spoke.  "Of course you should. Ayresha, why are you so grumpy again?"

 

"But... the Kingdom Mages are a group under Ambrosia's control, and if I'm found with the Apostles of Lutea... I’ll never be able to return.” 


"Even if they don't find out, you wouldn’t be able to return. You think I'm going to let you join back the Witch’s army?”


“Eeek!” Ayresha shuddered, clutching her head. 

 

Meanwhile, Edulis hadn't been still since Laotou had appeared. As she cut through their shields and broke their formation, Edulis smashed the cores of the wands the mages held, and stunned the soldiers. 


"Long time no see, Bosha."

 

"You recognized the signal."

 

"Of course, you think I've forgotten that?"

 

"But this wasn’t what I instructed, was it?"

 

"Well, it ended up being close enough, so whatever."


Before leaving the Fey family estate, Edulis had carved a tactical signal into the plaza floor with his sword. It was originally a code among the Black Fangs, but since the Black Fangs had joined the Kingdom's army, they had come to share it with the Apostles as well. 


However, Laotou did not move according to Bosha's signals. It had always been this way.


"Dammit! Worthless Mages! Advance, all of you! This victory will be entirely credited to our heavy cavalry!"

 

"Captain! Someone behind us, behind us!"

 

"Ugh!"


A man with a wolf's head and eagle wings charged from behind the heavy cavalry, wielding a mace with an iron ball the size of a man's head that shattered their armor and stunned them with a blow to the back of the neck. 


"Who the hell are you...!"


Mukaji stumbled backwards. Edulis looked at him and nodded. This was Bosha’s strategic signal. 


"I'll set up an encirclement, and you'll attack from the rear.” 


But Laotou did not heed the signal. It seemed she could not remember the code. Even 80 years ago, she would just show up, smash everything, and say, "It turned out well, didn't it?" Despite ignoring tactics, Laotou’s overwhelming might achieve the intended results.


"Avoid unnecessary combat. We'll break through here." As Edulis spoke, the enemy commander shouted.


"Will you let them do as they please? We cannot face His Majesty without any achievements!"

 

Mukaji, with his spear in hand, lunged at Edulis, only to fall flat on his back. Behind him, a black butterfly fluttered. Murjana had done it.


In the end, hundreds of Astania's elite troops had fallen to two apostles, a boy, and a girl. 


*** 


At the Fey Family Graveyard. Edulis laid Kurjina's head and neck side by side, covered them with dirt, and placed a headstone on the grave. He couldn't put a name on it. Someone might try to deface it if they knew it was Kurzina's grave. But Edulis couldn't leave it nameless, so he wrote this.


 - The one who did not turn away from the truth, the one who believed in and followed the will of good, the patriarch of House Fey, rests in the arms of Lutea. 


"I'm sorry," Shamas said, standing before the tombstone.


"The one who should have walked closest to Lutea died without ever meeting her. While the apostle slept, escaping the Witch's army, this child strove to reveal the truth. How pathetic am I? Who truly deserves the name of an apostle?”


Laotao bowed her head beside Edulis. Though she said she hated humans, she was more compassionate than anyone else, and it was no wonder that tears welled up in her eyes. 


"Wait for us, you who are braver than any of us. When Lord Lutea returns, your soul will be truly blessed. Your soul will circle the universe, be reborn, and enjoy glory for six thousand six hundred and sixty-six years."


Shamash's words served as a eulogy. Laotou murmured, "We will make sure of it... We will..."


That's when it happened.


"Ugh..." Murjana groaned as she watched Edulis' back. 


"Murjana?"


Laotou approached her.  Smoke swirled around the butterfly tattoo on her cheek but was trapped by a web, like a butterfly caught in a spider's web. It was an emergency measure Uthu had taken.

 

"Bosha, this kid... her corruption is severe," Laotou said. 


"It's a miracle she's retaining her original self. Normally, she'd now be a witch's servant... but the aura surrounding her is strange..."


After a moment of silence at the grave, Edulis turned away. Clenching his teeth so hard they made a crackling sound, he stepped closer to Ayresha. 


"Tell me what you know about Leaf."

 

"Le-Leaf, that bitch?" Ayresha stammered. Her body froze as she met Edulis's eyes. It was as if a blade was being held to her throat.


 "I will kill her. Definitely."






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