The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 189

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Before Kantrilla and I could get married, there were some things we had to agree on. Sure, there were basic things like how many children we wanted or what responsibilities we would have. Those were important, but we could talk about some of them as they became relevant. We did, but there were some things that were necessary even before those.

She was a cleric, and more than just by virtue of having a class specialized in healing magic. It was also her profession- a dedication to helping people- and it just so happened that she was most able to help some people by healing them. But, she wasn’t just a charity worker. There was still the religious component to it.

When I’d first come to this world I had avoided bringing it up to avoid exposing myself as being from another world- though my ignorance of things gave me away anyway. After that… it had just been an awkward subject. On Earth, there had been many many religions… and if any of them were real there they almost certainly weren’t here. “I won’t believe in something just for the sake of believing… it has to be true, you know?” I said it like I knew what I meant, but I probably didn’t. However, Kantrilla still basically understood me anyway.

She nodded knowingly, “It’s hard, isn’t it? Something I feel is from the goddess of Luck people might attribute to regular old boring lowercase luck. It’s hard to say what’s completely true… but they’re real. The gods, that is. Some people might say they’re not gods… but it’s hard to say they aren’t real. They even interact with clerics regularly… well, sort of.” Her trademark smile disappeared from her face as she concentrated on thinking about her words.

“It might be easier if you start with the beginning. I don’t know much about them, remember? I wasn’t born here.”

“Right,” she nodded firmly. “The nine attributes. Everyone knows those exist… it’s hard to deny when everyone has status windows. The gods… there is some debate on whether they came to divinity before the attributes existed or after. I don’t think… it really matters whether they are the source of attributes or not. Regardless, they were humans… err… people who ascended to divinity. Dexterity is certainly an elf, though Strength might be a human or an orc or a dwarf… people aren’t quite sure.”

“Umm… right.” It was a little bit hard to follow, but I’d already picked up that each of the gods were named after the attribute they represented- or possibly were responsible for the formation of. “You said they ascended to divinity?”

“That’s right. They were normal people once… well, maybe normal isn’t the right word. Regardless, they were not particularly powerful to begin with.” This is where Kantrilla began to smile with, “There are many versions of the story, but the important details are heartening and the core of my beliefs. They worked and grew in their attributes, excelling in their own area. The details aren’t certain, but after many adventures they ascended to divinity. They ceased being mortals and now live forever… or at least, they have lived for thousands of years without aging. They promote growth, both personal and of communities… though it should be mentioned they are not all powerful. If you believe them, and I do, there is a higher power that created the world. They just became able to act as intermediaries.”

“Hmm… like angels?”

“Angels are a different thing…” Kantrilla shook her head, “But they exist too.”

“Right… so I believe they exist… but I’m certainly not immediately going to believe they’re gods necessarily.”

“That’s alright,” Kantrilla bowed her head, “Faith doesn’t come from nowhere… and actions are what is important. I didn’t really think to go in depth on this because you already acted like you believed in them. Working to improve yourself and to help others and to take responsibility for your actions… that’s the core of Attributist belief. It’s not based around a strict code but a right way of living.”

These conversations didn’t happen all at once, but over the course of months. In the end, I knew I believed in the same principles… but maybe not the gods. That was even a difference between my Blessing of Strength and Kantrilla’s Blessing of Luck- and how we interpreted that. She thought of Luck as the goddess that shared the same name, and I thought of Strength as… well, muscle power and all that the attribute encompassed. However, we shared the same general principles of morality and how life should be lived. I even sort of believed in a higher power… which of course was really halfhearted and kind of pathetic. How the universe came to be and the fabric it was made up of was kind of important after all, especially if the afterlife was brought into it.

“Heaven exists,” Kantrilla explained when I asked, “Though people might not agree on the details. Regardless, people do have souls and don’t just cease to exist after we die. Hell is… well, there’s not much direct word from the gods on that. Maybe it’s a horrible place of punishment or maybe it’s just not going to heaven…” her face looked sad, “It has been theorized that it might just be eternal separation from… everything. Unless you believe in reincarnation.”

“I don’t, really. Though I’m not sure what actually happened to me in particular. I mean, I’m pretty sure I died so either my body was brought here somehow and brought back to life or something weird…”

“Well, there are stories of people getting new bodies and transferring their souls… through necromancy or less evil things. It’s possible you got a new body that was the same here or it was brought over…” Kantrilla shook her head, “The point is, there’s no proof that souls will automatically inhabit a new body later… though it might happen and people lose their memories in which case it’s hard to prove, isn’t it? Regardless, there isn’t that much information I can be sure of about life after death, except that it exists.”

In the end, we agreed on the fundamentals of how people should act… and I was resolved to learn to understand as well as I could if the gods were truly gods or just… people with great power. More importantly, the higher being they spoke of was important… but it wasn’t like I could just go talk to him? Her? It? And I didn’t.

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