Stray Ch23

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky ||

Chapter 23: Old Friend

The unpleasant gaze of scrutiny finally moved away from Nemo. He thought he had probably escaped this catastrophe. The loud voices in the restaurant finally suppressed his frenzied heartbeat. Nemo let go of his hand. The hem of his robe was wrinkled by his grip. Now that the crisis had passed, he hesitated for a few seconds before cautiously picking up the cup in front of him and adjusted his posture by taking a drink.

Then he listened with interest.

The only thing Nemo had confidence in was the quantity of knowledge he possessed. However, he was quite picky about which books to read, so he didn’t bother with eccentric professional books or vague books on demons and monsters. However, he had always been full of interest in things like historical biographies.

He knew very well that there was no country or race on this continent that didn’t have faith. Atheists were as rare as superior demons that infiltrated the surface.

The elves had their own forest god, Celestine. The dwarves loved Mansfield, the god of fire. Even the dragons had their own dragon god, Dimitrios. These were just a few representative ones. In fact, there were often multiple religions within each race. The most common were humans, with Laddism having the absolute advantage in terms of numbers of believers and spread, but there were still all kinds of smaller religions that existed, and new sects continued to emerge in an endless stream. Besides demons and monsters, basically every intelligent creature had the opportunity to come into contact with at least three or more missionaries from different religions.

In this environment, except for individuals from extreme sects, it wasn’t impossible to change beliefs. Although it would make some people unhappy, it wouldn’t be considered “apostasy”. “Apostasy” referred specifically to a certain crime, a very serious crime.

It meant that the sinner had not only abandoned his faith, but had also betrayed everything on the surface, which was not a crime that any believer could simply commit. It only applied to high-ranking religious figures who had been found to be in cahoots with demons. If, as Ann said, that person was a former Knight of Judgement who had rebelled, then this joke would be a little too much.

Judging from the fanaticism of the Knights of Judgement, this kind of thing was tantamount to fire burning inside ice.

“To be honest, I don’t know the details,” Fenrir said. He shifted his target and began to glare at Oliver, sitting next to Nemo. “Few people are willing to talk about this matter. After all, no matter what the reason is, the loss of magic of a Chief Justice in the Knights of Judgement is an incredible scandal.”

“Loss of magic? Has he really lost his magic? I thought it was quite ridiculous to hear that he would use this as a trade with a superior demon.”

“I don’t think so,” Fenrir retorted dryly. “Do you remember the Battle of Kandal?”

“I remember.”

“It’s rumored that Cross has been unable to use magic since then.”

“That was two years ago?!”

“Yes, but the bishop of Garland didn’t expel him immediately. After all, a significant number of people still regard him as the prophetic swordsman. They removed Cross from his position as Chief Justice of the Knights of Judgement and asked him to be an inspector for inquisitions. My guess is that they were waiting for him to recover his strength.”

“They are really patient.” Ann curled her lips.

“Then a few months ago… I remember that it was snowing. Cross was found to be holding the transaction seal of a superior demon and was caught. I haven’t heard of his execution, so I’m guessing he’s still locked up in the dungeon of the Heretical Judgement Hall.”

“How terrible.” The female warrior knocked the wooden cup heavily on the oak table and splashed a few drops of golden mead onto the tablecloth. “I hope he can still move.”

“That’s all I know.” Fenrir stretched out his thumb and touched Ann’s wound. The blood line slowly dissipated in the air. “Why are you suddenly interested in him?”

“Because I, the biggest idiot in the world, was lazy when these two novices took on a task, and I didn’t expect that anyone would want to go on a date with Adrian Cross,” she replied sharply, grabbing a chicken leg from her plate and started chewing on it, oblivious to her appearance.

“…Is that so?” Compared to Ann, Fenrir’s eating was more elegant. “Who was the task applicant?”

“Joanna Edwards,” Nemo whispered.

Fenrir’s hand holding the fork almost stagnated for a few seconds.

“Oh,” he exclaimed. “With such a big accident this time, it’ll definitely not be our group’s turn to host the test next quarter. It should be much smoother next season, young man.”

“Do you know the applicant?” Ann spit the chicken leg bone in her mouth onto the plate. “Let’s hear it.”

“The time to ask questions is over.” Fenrir wiped his hands with a napkin and took out a parchment booklet and a charcoal pen. “I don’t need to answer your questions anymore. After all, I didn’t get much good information. Can you draw the picture first, Savage? I have other things to deal with.”

Ann rolled her eyes, grabbed the booklet with her oily hands, and rubbed the charcoal against the paper. Nemo leaned over, seeing a suspicious oil stain on the paper. Ann’s drawing was flawless. She used the charcoal pen to lightly sketch the scene of Pandorater being entangled by the shadow, which was exactly the same in Nemo’s memory.

“Here, take it.” Ann stuffed the charcoal pen and booklet back into Fenrir’s arms and wiped the charcoal ash from her fingers with a napkin. “Thank you for your generosity. Goodbye.”

Fenrir looked at the oily stains on the booklet, causing his facial muscles to twitch a few times. He picked up the parchment and looked at it, then nodded with a straight face. “Have a nice meal,” he said stiffly, picked up the booklet, and left.

Oliver and Nemo finally dared to pick up the tableware. The former was folding his napkin like someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, while the latter was mechanically sipping on his drink, even though it had long been empty.

“Eat. You’re scared.” After Fenrir’s back completely disappeared from the door, Ann turned her attention back to the food in front of her. “Troy has already paid the bill, so you should eat more. I don’t understand why you two are so nervous. I mean, that guy can’t beat you, Oliver.”

“Still…” Oliver raised his fork and poked the meat that was sitting in front of him awkwardly. “Isn’t that guy regarded as some kind of law enforcement…?”

“…Listen, retaining the thoughts of a law-abiding citizen is not conducive to your task. Did you hear what he said? Cross is held inside the dungeon of the Heretical Judgement Hall.”

“So?” Oliver stopped his knife and fork; his voice sounded a bit desperate.

“So it’s better to try than to give up,” Ann said. “We can get him out and put him back.”

Nemo’s hand shook, causing the piece of potato he had in his fork to roll onto the tablecloth. Listening to her, it was like she thought the former Chief Justice would be as obedient as a kitten, and the dungeon of the Heretical Judgement Hall could be visited with just a ticket.

“I… I think…” Nemo pressed on his fork tightly. “I can’t. We can just wait another three months. We can participate in the next—”

“I need one hundred gold coins to register a second time.” The female warrior glanced at him. “And you—especially you—have definitely been targeted by the top.To be honest, I won’t be surprised if the next test will be hosted by the Knights of Judgement.”

Nemo snapped his fork in half and spat out the food from his mouth in shock.

“But…” Oliver seemed to plan to struggle a few more times.

“Anyway, let’s just go and have a look first, okay?” The female warrior appeased him reluctantly. “It’s not as crazy as you think. If Cross can’t use magic, he can only follow us honestly, unless he’s one of those rare masochists. As for the dungeon… If they haven’t changed their habits, then we really have a chance. Besides, Light must go to Hailam to collect information. The situation can’t be that bad. No one would openly challenge the Laddism Church, so don’t worry.”

While the food tasted good, the meal those two ate felt much heavier. Ann maintained her elusive habit and separated from them in front of the restaurant, not bothering to explain to them where she was going. She just asked the two of them to walk around casually and meet back at the inn after sunset.

“Your information has been recorded into the guild. Wear the black badge and walk around with peace of mind. Now, no bounty hunt will touch you.” She even threw them a small bag of coins, as if coaxing a thirteen-year-old boy.

Nemo carried the pouch and stood on the side of the street with Oliver, not knowing where to go for a while.

“Well.” Oliver probably thought it wasn’t appropriate to be standing sculptures on the street, so he took the lead. “It’s not far away… Shall we go to the Dawn Tavern and have a look?”

Nemo slowly turned his head. “Can we not go in?” he said bitterly, stuffing the silent and stiff grey parrot into his backpack. “How about we just look from outside?” He didn’t really feel at ease.

When they got there, the Dawn Tavern was much more normal looking than what he had imagined. Compared with the decoration of the tavern, the appearance of the two of them sneaking around on the street during daylight was even more suspicious. However, they’ve learned a lot these past few days. Curiosity killed the cat. The two of them walked around the tavern and agreed that it would be more realistic to go to the market to buy some of Noer’s specialties instead.

Nemo took off the collar of his robe, turned around, and almost ran into the person standing behind him head-on.

The tall man was just one step away from the two of them and was watching them quietly. His long gray hair was softly draped on his shoulders, and his eyes were a pure orange color; an extremely rare eye color. The man was well dressed, with not even a single button missing. The style looked like he was a waiter.

“Sorry, I thought the two of you were guests.” He smiled slightly. “Why don’t you come in and sit down?”

Nemo was stunned.

“…No thanks.” Seeing that Nemo didn’t speak, Oliver quickly laughed a few times and hurriedly dragged the stunned Nemo away from the tavern. He walked around into a crowded small market and stood in front of a bakery.

“Have you seen him before?” He let go of the hand that was holding Nemo’s arm.

“No,” Nemo responded slowly. “Uh, how can I put it… It might sound a bit…”

It’s not like he didn’t want to tell Oliver, but he didn’t know how to describe that feeling. Nemo was pretty sure that it wasn’t a negative emotion, but he couldn’t find any suitable positive description. He knew that he had never seen the man before, but at that moment, some small emotion suddenly swelled and exploded. If he insisted on using a word to describe it, it would be close to “relief”.

That emotion wasn’t strong, but he was troubled by it.

“It may be a reaction between demon worshippers or demon warlocks.” Nemo found a reason for himself. “It must be. Those eyes… They don’t look like human eyes.”

He didn’t know why, but he didn’t hate them.

Kinky Thoughts:

I decided not to put in some of the author’s comments as they contain a lot of spoilers.

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