Stray Ch9

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/


Chapter 9: At Sunrise

Nemo had never taken any tests other than an interview in his life. Unfortunately, Miss Savage was experienced in combat and had no interest in explaining the current situation. As soon as Nemo washed the mud and grime that he had saved up for the past few days, he couldn’t wait to run out to clear up some questions, but he only found a young girl with freckles on her face.

“Ann’s out. Dinner is in the room over there.” The girl pursed her lips into a thin straight line and stared at the ground as she carried a basket of bread in her arm.

Nemo tried to keep a kind smile, implying that she should say more. It was a pity that the girl had turned away as soon as she finished speaking, bringing a breeze full of “I’m in a bad mood”.

Nemo gave a slight shrug in the dim corridor, reconfirmed the objects in his lower waist bag, and walked from the corridor to the simple restaurant. Oliver was already sitting at the table. His short light brown hair was still dripping with water, and the light from the fire blurred his small wounds. He looked a bit like the Oliver Ramon that he would meet in town.

He was stuffing his mouth with pumpkin soup. The dark bags under his eyes were still obvious. Nemo didn’t say anything and pulled out the chair opposite of him. The feet of the chair rubbed against the rotten, decayed wooden floor, causing a sound that could make people jolt.

“Ann’s out.” That was the only thing Nemo could come up with to say as he stirred the soup that was in front of him. After eating dry and stale bread for days, the traces in the soup stirred by the spoon were full of artistic flavor in his eyes.

“I know.” Oliver raised his eyes. “What do you think?”

“Of what?” Although the pumpkin soup was cold, the delicate taste almost made Nemo cry, causing him to be a little distracted.

“The matter of the black badge, what are your plans for the future? She just wants to join only in name. What about you?” Oliver still had the spoon in his mouth.

“…To be honest, I have no idea, but I don’t want to act alone. The price of trusting the wrong person now isn’t simply losing your wallet; it may be your life. At any rate, the two of us know each other well. It’s good to find a few reliable people to do simple tasks together.”

Oliver didn’t respond. He looked at the drops of soup stains left by the pumpkin soup on the table.

Nemo sighed. “If you want to find something related to your father…”

“It’s not this.” Oliver quickly denied. “I mean, don’t you have anything you want to do? My problem has been solved for the time being. I just need to accept it.” He paused. “But your situation…”

“I know.” When it came to this topic, Nemo slumped his shoulders listlessly. “Only the church knows about this kind of thing. Even if Garland’s attitude towards demons is more relaxed, those bishops definitely aren’t willing to counsel a demon worshipper; at least not for free. This problem can’t be solved at all.”

Oliver was shocked for a few seconds by Nemo’s straightforward, conceding attitude. “No, I mean, maybe we can get in touch with other demon worshippers.”

This time it was Nemo who was shocked by Oliver’s amazing adaptability. Demon worshippers never had a good reputation. Most people like to use the shorter term “cultist” to refer to them. In Alban, it was a popular trope used to scare children.

“You also saw what happened just now. If it weren’t for his demon’s sudden convulsion, we would’ve become gold coins in his pocket. Are you sure when even Ann can’t deal with him alone?” What’s more, the guy had a hooligan look with slanted eyebrows and mousey eyes. He didn’t look like a knowledgeable and powerful character at all.

“If it’s just for information, it should be fine,” Oliver said. “I heard people mention that Noer seems to have a neutral tavern… I can’t remember the name. We can ask Ann tomorrow.”

Nemo nodded, though truthfully, he had no hope. The gray parrot was not unbearable. Its presence had not been demanding on his quality of life, and the weight of the pumpkin soup in his heart at this moment was much heavier than that unsolved mystery.

The next morning, Nemo was woken up by Ann.

During the few days they spent in the forest, he had hardly closed his eyes. Although his strengthened body could bear it, his spirit was extremely exhausted. He finally was able to touch normal pillows and a bed that even if they weren’t soft or comfortable, he still slept like a baby.

Ann almost shouted Nemo’s full name, but even the grey parrot showed no signs of opening its eyes. The female warrior gritted her teeth, grabbed his ankle, and dragged Nemo off the bed.

“It’s not dawn yet.” Nemo glanced at the window from the gap in his eyelids, trying to climb back to the warm bed.

“Alright then, please continue sleeping until the last minute before the registration deadline and then go register comfortably in front of countless eyes of bounty hunters. They’ll definitely give you a standing ovation,” Ann snorted.

Nemo instantly stood up. “…I’m sorry!”

However, the situation didn’t seem to be as bad as Ann said.

The registration office was a low-rise structure that seemed out of place for its purpose.There were still scattered stars hanging in the sky at this time. The gray parrot was still sleeping in Nemo’s backpack. There were many people who stopped by the building in small groups; almost all were dressed as civilians, ranging from young to old. There were even mothers carrying their babies.

“These are all the people who are going to take the test?” Oliver stared at a mother who was bowing her head to coax her child. He was unable to see her expression clearly.

“They’re refugees. I estimate that they won’t be able to survive,” Ann responded lightly. She crossed her arms and looked towards the end of the road.

Soon they knew what Ann was waiting for. A two-wheeled carriage passed through the morning fog that was filled with miscellaneous weapons. The coachman parked his cart on the side of the road and quickly got down to business.

Ann wrapped a cloak around her leather armor and strode forward. “Ann Savage,” she said loudly, “Number eleven.”

The fat coachman blew his nose and plucked out a long cloth bag from the pile of weapons. “Here.” He handed it forward impatiently.

Ann took out a few gold coins and put them on the messy shelf, then picked up the cloth bag and left, removing the dirty cloth as she walked away. When she came back to them, the contents of the package had been completely exposed.

“It’s not a good sword, so make do with it. I’ll discuss the cost when you make money,” she said, throwing the sword at Oliver. Although she said that, Nemo was sure that this sword was better than the others in the cart. The blades on those swords were covered in dirt, while this one had at least a clean leather scabbard.

While Ann had a tough attitude and a ruthless approach, her heart was good in the right places. Before Nemo could finish his thought, he was almost hit by a metal rod that Ann threw over.

“What is this thing?” The stick was more than half a person’s length and was heavy. There was hardly any workmanship, and the top had a roughly inlaid yellow stone. The stone had no signs of grinding marks, which made Nemo suspect that this was what it originally looked like when it was quarried.

“A staff,” Ann said. “You’re a mage, theoretically.”

Nemo stared at the black metal rod in horror. “But I can’t use—”

“Yes, I know. That’s why it’s iron. That way, you have a way to attack someone by surprise.” Ann made a waving gesture, looking very satisfied with her creativity.

“……”

Oliver, somewhat unaccustomed to hanging his sword around his belt, leaned over and patted Nemo on the shoulder with understanding.

Gradually, more carts came, offering more types of things to buy. At first it was only weapons, then some had medicine and simple scrolls. The asking price wasn’t very high, and the quality was awfully poor. Judging from the gaps and patches on the clothes of the refugees, there was no market for high-end goods here.

Ann ignored the new carts. She grabbed the clothes of the two people beside her and dragged them to the corner of the street. The sky was getting brighter, and the morning fog had gradually dissipated. The figures at the end of the stone road became clearer.

A group of people approached as they were talking and laughing. The vendors, who had just been busy quickly setting up their carriages, tore off a teleportation rune and quickly disappeared, leaving only pieces of fine garbage behind. The refugees spontaneously retreated with their purchased goods in their arms, not saying a word.

“Remember,” Ann whispered in their ears, “white tin badges. They are regular mercenaries. Don’t provoke them. Your black badge level is low compared to theirs. If you don’t cause trouble, they won’t take the initiative to attack you.”

The sky was now completely bright, and the red light of the rising sun broke through the sky curtain.

“Let’s go.” Oliver nudged Nemo’s arm. “Ann said that she had already helped fill in our information, but the certification has to be done in person—”

“The sun’s out,” Nemo said blankly, looking at the bright sun in the distance.

Oliver suddenly noticed something.

In the past few short days, Nemo Light seemed to have an indifferent attitude towards everything, which had nothing to do with the word positivity. He was the embodiment of what it meant to “live in the present” and leave the troubles for tomorrow. If Oliver was being honest, he didn’t appreciate this kind of character. He doesn’t like how the other party didn’t seem to care about dying at any moment. He had seen his pain, fear, and exhaustion, but it was mixed with an indescribable inconsistency.

This sense of inconsistency made him instinctively want to keep a distance, but Nemo was undoubtedly a kind person in the traditional sense, as he really did save his life. It wasn’t acceptable for him to alienate Nemo just because of some non-existent thing. Oliver determined that this was all due to the paranoia caused by his recent emotional outburst.

While he had obviously made up his mind, the feeling that had disappeared for a while had now resurfaced.

When Nemo looked back at him, Oliver recalled a certain moment many years ago with instant clarity. It was the first time that they met when Nemo was peeping at him.

His back burst into hot sweat and then quickly became cold. His heart was beating so fast that it made him uncomfortable. The sound of blood flowing seemed to be magnified countless times, and dark spots appeared in his field of vision before he was about to faint. He tried to adjust his breathing, trying to resist this strange and ominous feeling. At that time, he was still young and had no concept of this kind of feeling. Now, he knew how to describe it—

Instinctive fear.

It was as if some huge alien was standing behind his head and had entrenched its sharp nails directly against his scalp, which could pierce his head like berries. The sense of oppression almost grounded his whole body into meat purée.

The feeling was fleeting, but it stuck to him for hours.

“You see, even if we encounter such shit, the sunrise is still very beautiful,” Nemo said with emotion, showing off a big smile. “I can’t remember the last time I saw a sunrise. Let’s go. Aren’t we going to get our certification?”

Oliver smiled stiffly, holding his other arm in his hand, and he could feel his body trembling uncontrollably.

“Are you nervous?” Nemo blinked curiously. “I don’t think you need to worry. If anyone fails this test first, that person will probably be me.”

Oliver took a deep inhale, looked directly into Nemo’s eyes, and tried to keep his voice steady. “Stop joking around. Ann is waiting for us inside.”

You can’t show it. He repeated it frantically in his heart. You can’t show it, Oliver Ramon.

It hurts to express fear wantonly before confirming the truth.


Kinky Thoughts:

It seems there’s more to Nemo than meets the eye.


<<< || Table of Contents || >>>

5 thoughts on “Stray Ch9

  1. Psst… it’s “experienceD in battle”.
    Why don’t you run your chapters through a grammar checker? There’s an abundance of mistakes like this in every chapter, so far.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s