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In a World without God Chapter 70


The grave was small and shabby. It looked like ants or moles had gnawed through it. A cross made of two wooden sticks stood in the mound. Edulis stood before the cross and bowed his head.

 

"Bosha...."

 

Laotou bowed her head behind him. There was no time, but the words "no time" didn't come out of her mouth. Aruru considered Laotou god. He believed he was carrying on his mother's will by contributing to the coming of Lutea's world. And now Aruru was dead, not by the hand of a witch’s minion, but by a human.

 

Like Laotou, Shamas and Murjana could not rush Edulis.

 

Edulis glared at the mound, hating the fact that it was Leaf who made it. He hated the fact that Leaf had brought Aruru here from Agade, and he hated the fact that he hadn't been there when Raghad had swung his sword or when Leaf had made the mound.

 

Why did things always turn out for the worst? Raghad and Aruru wished to live in Lutea's world and did their best with that hope, but why did everything go awry? Was it because Lutea is not in this world?

 

"Damn."

 

Edulis muttered a small word and shifted his gaze to the crucifix. He saw a small piece of paper wrapped around the cross. He picked it up, unwrapped it, and read it.

 

 - Whoever reads this letter, I would appreciate it if you would let Enri, Marie, Shuri, and Harsh read it.

 

 It was a letter from Raghad. It began, 

 

 - This is not a suicide note. Nor is it an apology. It's something more like an excuse, written in defense of my foolishness and cowardice.

 

 Edulis continued to read.

 

 - When I saw the wounds inflicted on Methena... no, by something imitating Methena, I knew it was the work of the two who claimed to be apostles. Filled with rage, I approached them with bated breath to attack them, but then I heard a conversation between the Apostles and Edulis. I listened and understood. Edulis had protected Methena's soul, and Kurzina had died at the hands of Leaf.

 

 - I knew then. I realized that I didn't find my newfound knowledge surprising at all. In fact, in the back of my mind, I'd been expecting it. And then it hit me. Methena's wound was strange. It was a grievous wound, but how could she have fought two of Lutea's apostles and come away with nothing but a scratch? It was obvious, but I was too blinded by my anger to see it.

 

 - I think all humans are like that. We are afraid to look into our own hearts, so we look for easy targets to blame. We find comfort in blaming and resenting others. I did the same thing. I closed my eyes, closed my ears, and blamed only Edulis. It seemed justified. The enemy who killed Methena, who killed Kurzina... There was such an easy reason.

 

Edulis was fine with that. He wanted everyone to stay that way.

 

 - I swung my sword because I couldn't stand Aruru creating a crack in that simplicity, but that was just childish anger. What I really resented was myself. For not being there for Methena's death, for not noticing Kurzina's heart, for all I can do is look back with hindsight and regret....

 

Edulis felt the same regret. These thoughts swirled in his mind. Could there have been a choice where Metena, Kurzina, and Aruru didn't have to die?

 

 - Enri, I saw it. I saw you stop your sword. I saw the hesitation in your heart. Mari, Shuri, Harsh, right now you have the same feelings in your hearts as I do. You are afraid to blame yourself, so you run to hate and resentment. There is a blindness, a refusal to see what is around you. That is why you could not and would not stop me from killing Aruru. You must shed that mind. For the end result of that mind is what I am now. You have all seen my ugly end, my ridiculous end.

 

Edulis read the letter to the end and folded it back into a strip. The letter ended with these words

 

 - 'May you live a different life from mine.

 

No. Edulis thought. They are only children. They shouldn't have to carry such a burden already.

 

Edulis held the folded letter in his hand and pondered: he didn't want the children to read it, but at the same time, he didn't want to tarnish the dead Raghad's last words. In the end, Edulis hung the letter back on the cross. Then he walked into the spider forest that connected to Laotou's shadow with Murjana, Laotou, and Shamash

 

When Edulis had left, and the sun had moved no more than two fingers, Enri and the children appeared before Aruru's grave. Carrying the coffin with Raghad's body and a shovel. To make Raghad's grave beside the one where Aruru slept.

 

 ***

 

"That's odd, you took quite a while, I was wondering what you had prepared, but you didn't come with anything? Didn't Leaf tell you? Knowing Leaf, I thought she would have told you that I swallowed a piece." Akale said. The floor was littered with spider carcasses. Wood lay rotten and gnarled on the ground, and the soil had turned to ash. The air was foul everywhere.

 

Akale floated, sitting on a blue ball, just as she had before, but the energy she exuded was different. It felt like countless needles in her lungs... Edulis had felt this before when he met Granadilla.

 

"Get lost, Akale."

 

Edulis screamed. The heart of the goddess Lutea, a bud growing from a silver fruit, was inside a thick cocoon. The heart was connected to the cocoon and the threads, and the heartbeat became the power that protected the cocoon. It was a defensive mechanism prepared by Laotou.


Outside the cocoon, hundreds of Akale's blue snakes slithered, venom dripping from their teeth, drop by drop. With a hiss, the cocoon burned.

 

"I missed you, killer bosha."

 

Edulis kicked the ground. Using his spine, which ran from his head to his tailbone, as an axis of rotation, Edulis's sword swung in a powerful arc. With that single movement, dozens of snakes were sliced apart and dropped to the ground.

 

Akale was unperturbed by this. "You are siding with pathetic things."

 

"Akale... I've been waiting to meet you. You killed Taharka, didn't you?" Laotou's axe spear drew a circle parallel to the ground, striking Akale's sphere. But it was blocked by a coiled serpentine shield Akale had summoned. 

 

The aura emanating from Akale's blue eyes was several times more ominous than before. Laotou’ body stiffened at the mere sight of it.

 

Akale looked at Laotou and spoke.

 

"First Apostle, Laotou. Forty thousand years old, and you're still acting like a child. Short-thinking, narrow-minded, and calling Lutea your mother when you're lonely. Is it right that a man like you should be revered as the First Apostle and the God of the Thresher? What makes you better than those spiders on the floor over there, besides your strength?"

 

"Shut up."


 

Laotou tried to charge toward the blue orb that spewed out the snakes, but a snake sprung from the ground and coiled around her leg.

 

"Besides, you're not even powerful enough to protect Lutea. If you're the first Apostle, what about the rest?"

 

 Laotou made a quick grab for her axe spear and slashed at the snake entangling her leg.

 

"I'm sorry, Taharka, I can’t avenge you right away,”

 

Then, thousands of needles flew out and pierced the snake's body. They came from the wings of Shamas. Shamash's wings glowed black, and Akale chuckled.

 

“What’s this, you? You came here to make me laugh, didn't you?"

 

Shamas's wolf-head growled.

 

"Seventh Apostle, Shamas...What’s with that look? Where did you get a heart? What little cunt did you steal it from? Is it Fiora? No, Ayresha? Oh, it's Ayresha."

 

Shamas started to lunge at Akale but then stopped. One look into Akale's eyes was enough to immobilize him.

 

"You were the first to be fooled by Granadilla, Shamas. Aren't you ashamed that you used to be called an Apostle? Looking at you makes Lutea look so trivial. It's all your fault that Ygraine lost to Granadilla."

 

Laotou and Shamas grimaced and chewed on their molars. They gritted their teeth and tried to push through the wall of snakes—snakes that spit fire, ice, and lightning.

 

"Murjana, it's been a while, I've missed you too, I like cute kids. I know it's unpleasant that Leaf put her nasty spit on you, but... do you want to play with me now?"

 

"Ugh...."

 

Murjana dropped her sword to the ground. The look in Akale's eyes was unbearable. A million enraging things flashed through her mind. Taharka's death, Edulis holding Kurzina...The black butterfly in her eye struggled against Uthu's web. It looked like it might break through the web at any moment.

 

"Edulis, Murjana, you are the ones who can be on my side. Kill those two bastards here and come with me. Once I've eaten Lutea's heart, I can defeat Granadilla. Soon Granadilla will be dead and my world will be here. What do you think?"

 

Neither Edulis nor Murjana answered. Edulis was frantically slicing at the snake that was lunging for Lutea's heart, and Murjana was struggling to pick up her sword again in pain.

 

"Edulis, I don't understand why you won't listen to me. Why do you wish for Lutea's world? Could Bosha the human really agree with Lutea's ideals? I don’t think so."

 

While Edulis guarded the heart, Shamas flew through the air with Murjana in his arms. Laotou fled through the gnarled trees, dodging Akale's snakes.

 

"You just wanted to be in a good favor with Ygraine. Can you tell me you weren't in love with her clear eyes, her moist lips, or her figure? Would you have followed her advice even if she had taken on the appearance of a scruffy crocodile from Kaldura?"

 

Edulis could have answered. Of course. Even if Ygraine had come in the form of a dirty crocodile, even if she had come in the form of a worm or a cockroach, he would have listened to her. Bosha believed the world was dirty, which meant he longed for cleanliness more than anyone.

 

"You talk too much, Akale." That was all Edulis had said. There was no point in talking, he thought. No one like Akale would ever understand.

 

Many hours passed. The sun had set and darkness had returned. Edulis and the two apostles were breathing heavily.

 

Akale frowned and sighed.

 

Edulis cut down the snakes wrapped around the cocoon, leaped back twelve steps, then charged forward again to cut down more snakes. Shamas, holding Murayana, shot needles from the air, and Laotou repeatedly stabbed the snakes spewing fire, ice, and lightning, while hiding in the forest. They did this over and over again. 

 

"Boring." Akale yawned loudly. "What the hell are you guys doing, playing with snakes while you can't even get close to me...why are you dragging out the time?"

 

Akale's orb spat out blue blobs instead of snakes.

 

"I was thinking of waiting for reinforcements, but you two and Assyria are the only apostles who can move now, and there are no humans worthy. Assyria is unlikely to come to your aid, given her nature, and even if she did, she wouldn't be able to handle me. What the hell are you doing?"

 

The blue blob exploded like a bomb as it approached the grove where Laotou was hiding.

 

"Did you come here just to die by my hand? Do you want to die while pretending to protect the goddess's heart? After all, those in Lutea's camp do engage in such foolish acts quite often. It's my least favorite."

 

"Ugh!" Laotou groaned.

 

"I don't like to kill anyone myself, it's not pretty. Murjana, would you like to kill Shamas and Laotou? Here, I can give you the power...."

 

Then, Edulis said. "It is over, Akale. You will die soon."

 

"Ha... what are you talking about?"

 

"Help is on the way. A very powerful one and they will kill you."


"I told you, I know your situation all too well. What kind of bluff is this, Edulis? We both know there's no such power, whether it's Lutea's forces or humans. Are you really willing to stoop so low?"


 Edulis laughed, a corner of his mouth lifting.

 

"When did I mention that the help coming is an apostle or a human?"

 

"What are you talking about?" Akale’s face twisted. 


Edulis said. "It is Granadilla who is coming to kill you."







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