༺ The Book of Tyrkanzyaka – Old Testament (Part 2) ༻
The girl and her father found themselves in a troublesome situation.
Death in the village came as seldom as its impact was profound, and when it did happen, it was often gruesome, leaving no intact bodies behind. If someone fell victim to a beast or drowned, not even a corpse would remain.
Death by illness was the only type that left a body, but that presented its own issue for the father and daughter. Ever since the villagers began quickly seeking the father’s help for minor injuries and sickness, most ailments no longer proved fatal.
Even if someone did succumb to a severe illness, the problem persisted. Because while the followers of the Order of Gaia preferred burial, the impoverished who lacked the means turned to cremation, as encouraged by the Holy Church.
As the burning bodies of the villagers who had fallen ill lay before him, the father bit his lip in frustration. It was impossible to dissect ashes after all. Nevertheless, he couldn’t afford to be negligent in diagnosing his patients and letting them die.
Still, the region provided no means of procuring bodies and in the end, driven by urgency, the father decided to take a risk.
“Tyr, I’ll be going out a little farther today.”
Now, he was gripped by a perverse obsession. It seemed that he wouldn’t stop until he had learned everything there was to know about human anatomy.
The girl felt a vague unease, but the feeling quickly simply ended with worry. After all, she had already become an exceptional healer, surpassing her father’s skills.
“I’ll help too.”
“It’s fine. The journey will be long and harsh. ”
“It’s okay. I also like taking night walks. Besides, don’t you know? I never run out of breath no matter how far I walk.”
“I’ll be going very far, past two hills. Taking you along would only draw more attention, so stay at home and watch over the house today.”
His determination and rationality quickly convinced the girl, although her discontent was clearly visible on her face. In response, the father chuckled warmly as he grabbed his coat.
“Instead, could you put some cloth on Ralion’s hooves for me? With the long journey ahead, I’ll need a mule to pull the cart tonight…”
It was a dark night. Aware of the need to avoid detection by the other villagers, the father waited until well past evening before setting out on his departure.
The girl perched herself on the largest boulder in the village, bidding her father farewell. She would wait for his return in the same spot.
The sky was adorned with twinkling stars. The waning moon lazily traversed its path, slow enough to yawn. The girl gazed at the heavens, losing herself in deep contemplation.
Her father wasn’t in the wrong. If it weren’t for the merciless illnesses and the heartless deaths they brought, her mother would still be alive. If they didn’t exist, her father would have been happy, free from the inner turmoil that plagued him.
Thus, it wasn’t her father at fault; the true malevolence lay within the cruel grip of those vicious illnesses that had changed him.
‘I’m sorry, Tyr.’
The gentle rustling of a breeze woke up the girl. She had inadvertently dozed off. Dawn was breaking on the horizon, accompanied by the chirping of birds in the trees.
The girl swiftly shook off the remnants of sleep, her gaze scanning the area. Had her father not returned despite the passing of an entire night? She was sure he would’ve woken her if he saw her. Or perhaps he had been too exhausted to even glance around him…
The girl stopped looking at the road and decided to go home. If her father wasn’t there, she could just come back out.
But as she walked along the path and arrived at the small cottage she lived in with her father, an ominous feeling flashed past her mind.
A huge horse was tethered near the cottage, a beautiful warhorse, twice as big as Ralion, with a handsome mane. In its white saddle, luxurious at a glance, there was a cross, the seal of the Holy Church.
The moment the girl recognized what it was, she hurriedly dashed into the cottage.
Ominous forebodings are rarely misguided.
As she swung open the door, she was met by a strong scent of blood. The modest cottage allowed her to swiftly grasp the entirety of the situation as soon as she stepped inside.
Three individuals, donned in cold steel armor, caught her attention with their suspicious appearance. One of them wielded a blade dripping with blood… while her father lay helpless on the ground, bleeding.
Horrified, the girl rushed to her father’s side and fell to her knees. He teetered on the edge of death, but a fleeting glimmer of light rekindled in his eyes. Joy momentarily clouded his gaze, only to be swiftly replaced by a wide-eyed expression marred by astonishment and fear.
His voice was faint as if it would break at any moment. Nevertheless, he mustered all his strength before death, frothing with blood, to utter his last words.
“However… you can… Sur… vive. My… hope…”
The wound was severe. It didn’t take a healer to recognize the hopelessness of his condition.
Could she do it? She wasn’t sure. She had never exerted any significant amount of power on someone who was still alive. But she had to do it. Otherwise, her father would die.
The girl closed her eyes and began to exert control over the blood flowing out.
“Sir Priest. What should we do with this girl?”
“Leave her and return. We are punishers, not murderers. Since we have gotten everything we need…”
Suddenly, the priest ceased his muttering.
Blood followed the movement of the girl’s finger. It rose from her father’s chest, and under her guidance, returned to its rightful place. Blood spurted into the empty air.
Spilled water couldn’t be collected, but blood could.
Desperately, the girl redirected the blood back into her father’s body.
“Sir Priest. That’s…”
The priest raised his hand, cutting through the air to signal for quiet. A heavy silence descended upon them. With a weighty tone, as if shouldering the burden of the sky, the priest addressed the girl.
“Child. What is your name?”
The girl snapped to attention at the voice from behind. These individuals had undoubtedly arrived to punish her father. They wouldn’t stand idly by and observe her actions. But if she halted her efforts, her father would perish. She couldn’t allow that to happen.
The girl persisted in using her bloodcraft and fervently pleaded with the intruders.
“I’m T-Tyr. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again from now on, so please, save my father…”
“Tyr, I see. Tyr. A good name. Did your father give it?”
“Yes, yes. Father is, he’s a good person. He helped many people. So, I’ll stop him from now on, so…”
It was the heartfelt plea of a devoted daughter. If the intruder standing before her had even the slightest trace of mercy, he could have easily turned away.
But she was facing a priest. There was no space for mercy in the armor of faith and duty worn by the clergy.
“I cannot save your father. However.”
Prrk. Without any warning, the priest’s sword pierced through the girl’s chest.
She gasped in disbelief, feeling the icy touch of the metal as it sliced through her flesh, lurching towards her pounding heart. Agonizing pain seared through her body. Blood gushed out from her punctured lungs, frothing and staining the floor as Tyr collapsed onto the living room floor.
The world around her grew hazy, and only pain reverberated in her head. Gradually, the girl’s consciousness faded away, and her memories began to blur.
As she lay there fallen, she heard the priest’s muttering hovering over her.
“I shall send you to the same place as your father.”
The priest brandished his sword, leaving a trail of bloodstains on the wooden floor. That was the final memory the girl had before her life slipped away.
“I must introspect. I almost erred due to misplaced compassion.”
“Do we purify? Should I bring a torch?”
“No. We must carve a warning. Let us take out the bodies beneath the building and leave.”
“Yes, Sir Priest.”
“That was a perilous moment. To discover a seed of the Dark God in a location like this…”
* * *
“Doctor, I have a stiff arm today… Ahhh!”
“There’s been a murder! A murder! The doctor is dead! Even Tyr!”
“Huh? Corp… ses?”
“Wait, isn’t this the old lady who passed away last month…?”
“Here! There are heaps more bodies…!”
“It can’t be the doctor, no, this demon was the one digging up graves these days…?”
“It’s divine punishment…”
“How inauspicious. Don’t let anyone come…”
* * *
“Tsk-tsk. Even even if they did commit the grave sin of desecrating the dead, their bodies and sins were all derived from the earth. Wouldn’t it be a pity if they couldn’t find their way back? As a servant of Mother Earth, I can’t leave them to be cursed.
“The father and daughter are facing each other even in death. Surely they were a loving family toward one another. Haah. It’s been a while since I last did this, but I suppose I’ll hold a funeral for them.”
* * *
“Good. All buried. Phew. It’s exhausting doing this again after so long. May you find peace in Mother Earth’s embrace.”
* * *
However, the priest who had plunged his sword into the girl’s heart, the villagers who had abandoned the father and daughter, and even the undertaker who had laid them to rest remained oblivious. They were completely unaware that the girl, despite her grievous wound to the heart, had not succumbed to death.
It was a time of endurance. The girl persisted in her struggle for life within the confines of her grave, plagued by the uncertainty of why she had to continue living. She couldn’t let go of life, even as she witnessed her father’s decaying corpse before her very eyes.
Was it due to his final words uttered in his dying moments? Or perhaps a primal instinct that compelled her?
The girl intercepted the blood that sought to escape her body, vehemently defying the encroachment of death.
It was naturally dark. She was buried underground in a coffin, side by side with her father. This was the reality, destined to last forever. So what purpose did color serve? Those pigments were created to counteract light, but now they were futile.
Let everything fade away.
There was nothing to consume except for her father, lying lifeless before her…
Suddenly, a chill ran through the girl. Was she supposed to eat it? Her father’s remains? She couldn’t bring herself to do such a thing. Yet against her will, the hunger within her demanded she commit the depraved act of cannibalism. She resented this hunger, believing it would be far better not to experience such cravings.
Was there a need for saliva without hunger? Did tears serve a purpose when there was nothing left to lose? They were unnecessary.
Be rid of it.
Why did she have to feel pain? As some old philosopher said, isn’t suffering proof of being alive? Then, pain was meaningless to the girl who had already lost her life. She resented the relentless pain that pursued and tormented her to no end.
I have to be rid of it.
She had no use for colors.
She had no use for desires.
She had no use for tears.
She had no use for pain.
Gouge it out.
Thus, the girl endured years of suffering, lying amidst her own blood and the life essence that seeped from her father’s body. Through it all, her mastery of bloodcraft advanced toward the pinnacle as the days passed. All bodily functions necessary for survival ceased within her. She relied solely on the movement of her blood to keep her body working.
The girl, who once tenaciously held her family together, had now transformed into a ruthless tax collector within her own body.
And so, she discarded everything unnecessary, gradually gaining dominance over every blood vessel in the tips of her hands and feet, expanding her domain of control, encompassing every drop of blood that had been splattered upon the ground.
Then at one point, she opened the coffin and emerged into the world.
A dry murmur escaped her lips. She had assumed to have lost words in the long absence of speech, but even after discarding everything else, the language seemed to have persisted.
Everywhere was dark, but darkness was familiar to the girl’s eyes. It was the outcome of a life lived in perpetual nothingness.
Much had changed when the girl awakened. The village, the world, and its inhabitants too. The only constant was herself… or perhaps she had undergone the most profound change.
Despite discarding so much, one thing endured: a frigid, refined, fiery fury. It was an emotion she couldn’t shake off during her seemingly eternal confinement, with her father’s lifeless body as a constant reminder before her eyes.
The girl manipulated her blood to set her body in motion, taking awkward steps akin to a puppet being guided by strings. However, she swiftly grew accustomed to it within a relatively short period.
Walking a path devoid of destination, yet fueled by purpose, she etched her duty within her mind—to exact a fair retribution from the apostles of the Sky God, equivalent to what she had lost.
… And that’s how the story went.
I collected the fragments the girl had cast away and forged them anew. Memories of suffering, so ancient and agonizing that they had been relegated to oblivion. I gathered those moments she had discarded one by one, wasting away in the presence of her father’s lifeless body, and contained them within a single card.
Magic is the manifestation of your own world.
The girl fashioned a keepsake as she reminisced about a former self that had vanished 1200 years ago. The crimson heart depicted on the card shimmered like blood.
The girl drove the red card into her chest, experiencing a mixture of intense pain and profound tenderness.
And with a faint smile, she was gone.