“Um…” Alex hesitated.
I ended the hug. “If you’re not comfortable talking about your god, you don’t have to.”
“No. It’s not that, it’s just… I don’t really have a proper answer for you. My religion doesn’t work the way Christianity does. It’s not about worshiping a deity and believing a set of mythology. It’s more about living your life by a set of principles.”
“So you don’t have a god?” I wasn’t sure it could still be called a religion if there’s no worship in it.
“I have two: The Lord and The Lady, representing different aspects of the world. I pray to them, but…” He paused. “Christianity–especially the Angelic Church–stresses the idea that we’re supposed to live according the wishes of some divine Creator. That we need to follow their orders for how to live our lives. Those who follow are rewarded in the afterlife, and those who disobey are punished.” He shook his head slightly. “I look to The Lord and the Lady–as well as philosophers, historic figures, friends, and many others–for guidance. Sometimes they don’t have any useful advice, and that’s okay. Ultimately, I’m the only one responsible for my actions, so I need to make my own decisions–even if it goes against whatever advice The Lord and the Lady might give me.”
“They don’t mind if you disobey them?”
“Like I said before, if we were meant to always follow, we wouldn’t be able to make our own decisions.”
“Then… how do you know if you’re making the right choice?”
“You don’t know. Not for certain. You need to consider your options, weigh the outcomes, and try to find the path that causes the least damage. And then hope for the best.”
“That sounds hard.” I thought of Flutter. As we spoke, she was off asking God whether she should turn us in. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for her to make that decision herself. If she turns us in, we’ll be killed. If she keeps our secret, she could go down with us if anyone found out.
He nodded. “I don’t mean to sound dismissive or anything, but I understand why so many people are attracted to a religion where all you have to do is follow rules. It makes things a lot simpler, in theory.”
“It’s not that simple,” I said, “Sometimes… it’s hard to know which rules to follow.” I sighed. “The Bible says ‘Thou shalt not kill’. And yet I’m told that it’s my duty to kill dragons. If a dragon attacked us right now, tried to eat us, I’d kill it without the slightest hesitation.”
“That’s what dragon slaying used to be like. Hundreds of years ago, it was about protecting people. But now… the dragons that remain aren’t causing any trouble. They’re just hiding. Hiding from people like me. I–I know they’re dangerous, but… I can’t help but feel sorry for them. Cooped up in a cave, hiding from–from people like me.” I shivered, remembering what it’s like when I find a dragon.
“You don’t have to do it. And you shouldn’t. We’re trying to spread a message to stop genocide. So that everyone can live together happily. And maybe one day… the dragons will be able to come out of hiding. Live normal lives and… fall in love.”
“That would be great. But I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”
Not while my family is around.
I had to find a way out. For Alex. He’d seen me lose control of my powers, but… I couldn’t bear to let him find out what I’m like when I’m killing a dragon.
I’m the bloodthirsty monster. The one that needs to be stopped.