Stray Ch17

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

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


Chapter 17: The Ignorant are Fearless

Nemo took a step back subconsciously, and the metal trinket on his chest began to get hot. They were still some distance from the red mist, so they couldn’t see clearly, but even at this distance, the scene of flesh and blood flying everywhere still made their backs cold.

“We’re near the border.” Nemo grabbed the little metal square.

“There’s no point in saying this now.” Ann took out a half-torn parchment book from her pocket and flipped through it quickly. “It’s no longer a question of eligibility. We have to live first.”

Nemo recognized what she was holding. Although most ordinary travelers used simple magic, complex magic was difficult to learn and use. Few occupations could use them smoothly like experienced mages. When one couldn’t afford a full-time mage, it was more convenient to buy a spell book, which one could then tear off a piece of paper from, and use magic to burn and trigger the spell. It was simple and fast. There was nothing wrong with it, except that it was frighteningly expensive.

For ordinary adventurers who weren’t from an aristocratic background, such a thing was equivalent to a last resort to save their lives.

“Can that thing be stopped?” Oliver said, sounding a little lost. He had lost his sword and was now empty-handed.

“We can’t outrun it. Trying to fight it will only lead to a faster death. It’s not a complete superior demon, so its power is scattered. We still have some hope.” Ann tore off a piece of parchment. The hand that was holding it was trembling slightly. “Do you two have faith? If so, it’s time to pray.”

A milky white hemispherical barrier unfolded, with them being the center of the circle. It covered those who were fleeing in their direction. Despite that, the people did not slow their running speed even though they were protected by magic. When the red mist touched the edge of the barrier, it slowed down before tentatively climbing up the barrier.

Ann’s lips looked bloodless. She gasped as sweat condensed all over her forehead.

“No, the barrier is too weak,” she said in a hoarse voice.

Nemo looked at the twisting red mist intently. Since they encountered the Seymour Worm, the world had begun to lose its sense of reality as it should have. At this moment, he had a strange feeling that it should be a very dangerous creature, but unlike when he was facing the Seymour Worm, where he could still taste the bitterness of death when looking at the worm’s eyeballs, he couldn’t even hold up a formal sense of fear at this moment.

Although both Oliver and Ann said that the sense of oppression was unbearable, something other than that entangled him. A melodious murmur accompanied by the vibration of the air struck his eardrum. It wasn’t the sound of footsteps running on the grass, the wailing of the people, or the breathing of animals. It didn’t originate from nature, let alone a certain language, but the melody accurately contained thoughts and emotions.

[I’m very scared.]

He analyzed the complicated emotions suspiciously.

[I want to go back.]

A few thin pillars of gas emerged from the red mist, pressing hard against the milky light barrier.

[Don’t come over.]

The murmur came from all directions, causing Nemo to swallow with difficulty. His throat was burning from dryness.

“Oliver.” He didn’t dare disturb Ann, who was frantically lighting up the spell paper. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“Strange voices.” Nemo began to wonder if it was a good idea to ask others for proof. He sounded stupid.

“I can’t hear anything. You can ask the bird. Maybe it’s something unexpected.” Fortunately, Oliver didn’t immediately doubt or deny him.

“I didn’t hear anything.” The grey parrot watched everything happily. “Anyways, this kid and I can’t die. As for you, can’t you be more open-minded? Human beings can’t even live for a hundred years, so don’t be sad if you die a few decades early.”

“If you know its thoughts, can you communicate with it?” Nemo licked his lips nervously.

“We’re different species. What do you think?” The grey parrot said as it groomed its feathers. “I already told you not to pay attention to this. She won’t hurt her kind*. They never hurt their kind, as they’re notoriously gentle and kind. Just stay here and she can smell you. Of course, if you want to fight it, that’s a different thing.”

*Clarity: Kind is in reference to all monsters/demons of the Abyss, while species divides up those demons (think animal kingdom vs species in that animal kingdom). This is referenced throughout the novel, so I want to give the distinction.

The “gentle and kind” Pandorater was squeezing the protective barrier with her body, creating a crunching sound that made people’s teeth ache. It didn’t seem like it planned to give up this bone, as it was bound to gain dozens of living flesh inside the barrier.

“Different thing?”

“You have to confirm the territory before killing. Now, this is her territory, the entire area. I’m warning you, she’s not some stupid insect, but a real superior demon. We can have an enthusiastic fight in the Abyss, but not here. I can’t fuck with her. Although I don’t know how she did it, she gave away at least a tenth of her body, and I got a small piece of her fingernail! If you go and provoke her now, she’ll concentrate all her strength on getting rid of you first, which can be easily done.”

“I always wanted to ask… What would happen to you if I died?”

“I don’t know!” the gray parrot exclaimed angrily. “I gander, nothing good. The worst part would be that I can only be this damn parrot this time around. Do you know how hard it is to come up to the surface?”

“In other words, you will not die.”

The parrot stopped talking and stared at Nemo suspiciously.

“Normally, let alone listening to humans, a superior demon will not be bound, but judging from Ann’s attitude just now, the mercenary guild should have a way to control superior demons,” Nemo said slowly, with some uncertainty in his tone. “In theory, they shouldn’t allow it… Well, she’s running around. That means…”

Oliver seemed to have guessed what he wanted to say. His emerald eyes showed a hint of surprise.

“…Assuming that Bagelmaurus is not lying, and it truly is a superior demon, superior demons need to fight first. I… Then I might be able to attract that thing’s full attention. As long as I can find the boundary set by the guild, she can’t reach me, and I can continue to stall for time. I don’t believe they will allow her to wander outside for too long.”

“Are you crazy?” The gray parrot was so angry that it almost flapped its wings. “Mind your own business!”

“…But this method is theoretically feasible, isn’t it? If I don’t try it, I’ll have nightmares for the rest of my life. Oliver, you and Ann, take those people away, and I’ll try to lead it away. If I don’t succeed—”

“I’ll go with you,” Oliver interrupted him with a solemn expression.

“You…”

“You have no combat experience, and you may be caught before you could find the boundary,” Oliver said distinctly. “Don’t worry about weapons. I also have my means.”

“You don’t know the power of superior demons!” The grey parrot looked insulted. “You two stupid—” the words were stuck in its throat. It was so angry that it couldn’t think of a more vicious word to call these two idiots who didn’t know the height of the sky*.

*(天高地厚) Idiom referring how deep or profound something is. || In this context, not knowing the height of the sky is basically calling them naive/ignorant.

“A powerful demon warlock can destroy an entire town. I really can’t imagine the power of a superior demon,” Oliver murmured. “So what? Should we lie on the ground and pray for someone to save us? I don’t like to relax while waiting for someone to work hard for me, not to mention I owe this guy enough.”

Ann’s spell book was about to be torn apart. People fleeing the forest instinctively curled up in the corner of the barrier farthest away from the red mist.The milky light became transparent, and the cracking sound became louder.

“Ann!” Nemo yelled in the direction of the female warrior.

The female warrior turned her head, showing a pale face as she saw a black-haired young man who had a calm smile on his face.

“We have an idea. We’re going first!” Nemo turned towards the hideous red mist and shouted. Oliver followed him, scanning the grass carefully, hoping to pick up an abandoned weapon. “Stay away and remember to help us pick a task tomorrow—”

Supported by blind optimism and slim hope, they ran towards the direction of death. Ann was familiar with this kind of youthful aura, naivety, and stupidity. They always accepted that miracles do happen and that they would become a special case among millions of people.

Just like herself, many years ago.

She did not stop or respond to them. No one knew how long the Mercenary Guild intended to let this thing wander outside. It may not end until the sun rises tomorrow, or maybe even a few days or more…

But there was nothing she could do. Ann’s heart was beating wildly, and her internal organs were sore from tension and fear. There was nothing worse than the feeling of waiting to die; it was humiliating to the victims right before their deaths as it highlighted their incompetence.

She opened her spell book. There were only three pages left. Two of them were for the shining barrier, while the last page she glued on herself. It was dirty, old, and full of creases. It wasn’t surprising when it fell off. Ann ripped the page with her hand, and lowered them in a complicated mood, as if the old and smelly parchment paper was like a sharp blade between her fingers.

No, there was one more thing she could do.

Nemo and Oliver stopped at the border of the barrier. It wasn’t a good idea to get too close to the red mist, and they didn’t know how they could successfully provoke it if they were too far away. The grey parrot didn’t follow, so Nemo could only guess at the method of provoking it. He didn’t know why he couldn’t generate the hostility like he did so easily a few hours ago. As he approached the red mist, the melodious noise became clearer and more desperate. It seemed like it was a wounded cub whining in front of him. No matter how cruel a hunter was, it would still make him hesitate for a few seconds, not to mention how a former librarian would feel towards a harmless animal.

The emotion infected him, and sadness and despair pierced into his heart, like poisonous snake fangs. Before he thought of “hoping the other party will disappear”, he was pressed down by another thought.

Hey, I’m here.’ Nemo thought unconsciously.

This was by no means hostile, but there was no doubt that Pandorater had discovered him.

Countless thin plumes of smoke rose from the corners of the forest and merged. From a distance, they didn’t feel it. When its body really gathered, the two realized how huge their opponent truly was. The smoke no longer flowed but condensed into a liquid-like texture. The scarlet color became thicker as the smoke gathered and, in the end, was almost brownish black. The demon’s body in front of them was like a huge tornado with life.

The noise temporarily stopped at that moment.

In those few short seconds, Nemo almost gave birth to some hope, hoping that maybe they could avoid possibly fighting, or rather unilateral pursuit, through communication. However, his hope was soon dashed as trees and dirt began sweeping into the sky.

The murmur that sounded for the second time turned into pure noise that pierced his head in an instant. Instead of directly attacking Nemo, it indiscriminately attacked everything around the forest, whether dead or alive. Under the piercing noise, Nemo had no time to distinguish his emotions. He had to squat down and hold his head with his arms, exhausting all of his concentration. Oliver, who couldn’t hear the noise, tried to be helpful. He grabbed Nemo’s waist, picked him up, and started to run away.

Nemo’s face was against Oliver’s back. He raised his head laboriously and saw that Pandorater was not chasing after him but was still standing at the same spot. The sky was covered with stones and tree debris, while the piercing noise made him feel nauseous. Oliver stretched out his free arm and threw it back, causing waves of ice to surge up, blocking the large piece of debris that was flying towards them. At the same time, Oliver’s hand became instantly bloodied.

Nemo gritted his teeth and desperately squeezed the noise out of his mind. He stretched out his hand and an idea filled his head.

This was his plan, so he couldn’t drag Oliver to his death.

A black barrier suddenly rose. It didn’t unfold flatly like last time but climbed up the brownish black mist tornado like a living thing, wrapping it from all sides, like vines entangling a tree. The thick shadows bound the brownish black mist, as if a weird and unpleasant totem pole had been erected in the forest.

There were no spells, no arrays. He was sweating nervously as he clumsily explored the secret of the unknown.

They couldn’t hear the slight applause on the cliff not far away. Above the gap where the three of them had used as their stronghold, there was a small cliff. A hooded man stood at the edge, applauding insincerely.

“Poor little girl… After so many years, they still forbid you to go back?” He looked at Pandorater, who was still fighting the shadow, and muttered softly, “Jude really is a fool. No, humans probably have long forgotten how to accept new things long ago. There’s no doubt that he’s a demon warlock.”

He pulled down his taupe hood and let out a long sigh at the communication crystal in his hand. “It’s a pity that we may not be able to get him this time.”


The author has something to say:

Nemo: I’m not, I don’t have one.jpg


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3 thoughts on “Stray Ch17

  1. I am thinking, two demons naturally have no ways to make a contract. So…. Parrot can attack Nemo because they haven’t actually created a contract? It’s impossible between two demons no?

    Like

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