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In a World without God Chapter 68

We must return to the Spider Forest. The heart of the goddess Lutea is the world's last hope. The moment Akale takes it, the world will be lost to the witch. Even if Akale is stronger, we must protect it at all costs.

 

But... is it really a good idea? We don't know what Leaf is trying to do by tricking the children. Should we leave them alone and go to confront Akale? Would Lutea approve of such an action? Wasn't it right to defeat Rif somehow, now that she’s outnumbered?

 

These thoughts raced through Laotou's mind, but she couldn't show such feelings to Leaf.

 

"Leaf, I'm going to kill you. How long do you think you can last?" Laotou spoke in a menacing tone, not stopping to swing her axe spear. 


The more Laotou's shadows flickered, the more her offense intensified. She could not hide the urgency in her voice. Seeing this, Leaf spoke in a relaxed voice,

 

"If that's what you guys want, go for it. I can hold out for two days, but are you sure about that? Surely Lord Akale will take the heart of the goddess by then."

 

Blood dripped from Leaf's mouth as she spoke. Shamash's mace had struck Leaf in the abdomen. Shamash thought.

 

"I have sent the signal. Edulis will arrive soon. He has the strength of an apostle, and with the three of us working together, it shouldn't take long to slay Leaf.”

 

They couldn't leave Leaf alone, nor could they ignore the danger lurking at Spirder Forest. Time is of the essence. Leaf must be killed as soon as possible. As the two apostles launched their desperate offensive…

 

"Is... anyone there?" A child's voice came from the bushes. Leaf chuckled.

 

"That's Yuri's voice."

 

Then Leaf's body melted and her molten form flowed through the bushes. Leaf could hear the child's nearing footsteps.

 

"She’s taking hostages, Shamas! Stop her!"

 

Shamas flapped his wings and charged but a barrier of earth rose from the ground. At the same time, black spears rained down from a black magic circle.

 

Leaf saw Yuri in the distance and waved her hand. In Methena's soft, gentle voice, she shouted.

 

"Yuri. It's me."

 

"Methena, what are you doing there?"

 

"I tripped, can you help me?"

 

"You’re bleeding?"

 

Leaf had already wrapped her arms around Yuri's neck by the time Laotou rushed over and broke the wall of earth.

 

"Shit!" 

 

It was just a little further. Why now! If we charge at Leaf now, she will use Yuri as a shield. There's no way an apostle of Lutea could harm a child…


Laotou thought.

 

"I'm sorry, Laotou. My strength is not enough."

 

"Now is not the time for that!"


Laotou’s shadow staggered.

 

It was only a few minutes later that Edulis and Murjana arrived on the scene.

 

***

 

"We have no choice but to tell the people." Shamas's normally calm voice had lost its edge.

 

"You killed Methena to protect her soul from Bashme, and it was not you, Edulis, who killed Kurzina, but Leaf. And the one taking on Methena's appearance now is indeed Leaf."


"They will believe us if we. the apostles, say so. We must hurry. We must get rid of Leaf and protect the heart of the Goddess."

 

Murjana also joined in,.

 

"Edulis, it's frustrating that you're wearing this false accusation. You've done everything you can to fight Bashme alone, but because the children ran into your battlefield, Methena ended up dead."

 

"Murjana, don't talk nonsense."

 

Murjana didn't stop talking. "What about Kurzina? She abandoned her faith in you and cast the Gast-Ovora spell. Leaf was able to kill her because she was deeply guilty of not trusting you. She deserved it."

 

Muryana's voice remained sharp as she spoke about Kurzina.

 

"Right. We need to wake everyone up. Wake them up and tell them the truth."

 

With that, Murjana turned to leave, but Edulis stopped her.

 

"Why are you stopping me? It's Lord Lutea’s heart on the line!"

 

"Kurzina is a brave woman. She stood up to me for Lutea and her people. She's willing to fight the entire Astanian system tooth and nail. Who else could do that?"

 

Murjana scowled.

 

"Look at the result! What happened!"

 

Edulis didn't argue but continued.

 

"Enri, Marie, Methena, Harsh, Shuri... they are all deeply loving children. They trusted me, they came to my aid, and they crossed the barriers I created. Who else in this world could do that?"

 

"Because of those children, Bashme had the time to curse you, Edulis, and you lost your heart because of it!"

 

Edulis shook his head. "You're being short-sighted."

 

At that, Muryana frowned disgruntledly.

 

"They gave the world the courage to stand up to the witch. They spread the heart to step forward and act, regardless of one's strength or weakness, regardless of what one has to gain or lose. That is what defeats the witch's mind and brings the world of Lutea closer, so how can you think that be meaningless? Do you think it is right to break that heart to fulfill a momentary goal?” 


Neither Shamas nor Laotou could speak for they knew Edulis was right.

 

"You're right. But then how the hell are we going to...."



 ***

 

Methena sat leaning against the shade of a rock. Her wounds were bandaged with crushed herbs, and she was quietly gazing at the sky.

 

"Yuri, I'll take care of Methena now. Would you mind stepping aside?”

 

"Raghad?"

 

"The sun will be up soon, Yuri, and you should get some sleep."

 

"Why do you want to be alone with her? Raghad, are you possibly…" Yuri laughed teasingly.

 

"Go to bed, Yuri."

 

"Okay."

 

But Yuri didn't comply easily. As he backed away, he shouted at the crowd.

 

"Wake up, everyone! Raghad is confessing his love to Methena!"

 

He was an immature child. Since his parents had hidden the death of Aruru, he was unable to grasp the mood. He was merely excited about a love story.

 

A few people were too exhausted to get up, but most rose to their feet at the sound of the words and approached Raghad. Some came out of curiosity, others out of concern.

 

Enri, Mari, Shuri, and Harsh also rose and came to him. They knew that Raghad was in love with Methena, and they knew that Methena felt the same way. But to confess now? After Aruru's death?

 

Enri looked at Raghad's face, wondering if he had lost his humanity. Raghad's face reinforced Enri's thoughts. Its bloodless, gaunt face was reminiscent of a corpse. Only the eyes shone– like a starving, wounded animal.  

 

The dawn sun emerged from the eastern end. Methena looked up into Raghad's face.

 

"Is this something you must say now?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Is it so important?"

 

Raghad replied, and Methena tried to rise from her seat. Seeing that her injured leg was making it difficult, Raghad lent her a hand.

 

"Thank you…"

 

Rising to her feet, Methena looked into Raghad's eyes. Her white hair reflected in his black eyes.

 

Someone whistled. A group of homeless people, not descendants of Ygraine, watched the scene with giggles. To them, Aruru's death and Raghad's confession were nothing more than a laughing matter.

 

Only among the silver-haired ones was there tension. They stiffened, waiting to see what words would come out of his mouth. A confession? A declaration of love? He was like a bull in an arena.

 

Finally, he opened his mouth. Contrary to everyone's worries, the words that came out of his mouth were surprisingly in line with Yuri's expectations.

 

"Methena…I thought Methena was special from the first time I met her. When I met her, I felt certain in my heart. Certain that the silver-haired children are not descendants of witches."


Everyone held their breath. Such sweet words of love, coming from Raghad, a man who lived as a recluse...But Enri felt uneasy. It didn't feel like conveying love; his voice sounded like someone reciting a eulogy at a funeral.

 

"Her eyes were beautiful, clear as a full moon in the night sky. Her voice was beautiful, soft yet firm. With that voice, she comforted even me, a member of the family that persecuted her. How could such a child be the offspring of a witch?"

 

"Raghad... I don't think we need to talk about that now. It's been less than a day since we buried Aruru."

 

Raghad continued, unperturbed by Methena's words.

 

"Ever since then, I've dreamed of spending the rest of my life with Methena.... I've always wanted to build a cottage and invite her to stay with me, and we'd talk about the weather, and what flowers were blooming in the fields, and other silly things."

 

"Raghad?"

 

A tear fell from his eye. Slowly, like sap dripping from an old tree.

 

With a single step, Raghad stepped closer to Methena. Methena stroked his cheek.

 

"Don't cry, Lord Raghad."

 

Raghad said nothing but looked at Methena.

 

"I told you, didn't I? Just as joy is not eternal, neither is sorrow."

 

Still pressing his lips together, Raghad looked into Methena's eyes. At that moment, no one, no one made a sound. Not even the hobos clapping and whistling earlier, nor the descendants of Ygraine.


Enri felt a strange sense of discomfort. "What is this? This feeling.......

 

"You can return. To the proud and kind Lord Raghad you were. And… someday, you will surely be happy."


Raghad placed a hand on the back of Methena's head.

 

"I want to be with Methena forever."

 

He pulled Methena into a tight embrace.

 

"Lord Raghad...."

 

Methena looked at Raghad wistfully but did not resist his touch.

 

"I will help you, Lord Raghad, to be happy."

 

At that moment, Enri realized. Raghad had never once, referred to Methena as 'you' directly.

 

‘I want to be with you forever’ Isn't that what people usually say?

 

"That, that’s!"

 

"No!"

 

"Methena!"

 

Everyone there shouted.

 

"What...."

 

Methena didn't know the reason for the reaction. Raghad's broad shoulder blocked her view. With his arms around her, she was looking off into the distance. The sun was rising, and the crescent moon was fading beside it.

 

"I love you, Methena."

 

THUD!

 

Blood stained their clothes. There was a sword stuck in Methena's back. Raghad's sword.

 

"Why...." Methena groaned. The sword that pierced Methena's chest was embedded in Raghad's chest, connecting their bodies.

 

Raghad looked off into the distance and muttered. "Now, I'm coming to where you are."




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