Stray Ch61

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

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


Chapter 61: The So-Called Salvation

Everything happened too suddenly.

When the rain of spears fell, Oliver struggled, subconsciously wanting to draw his sword to stop it, but before he had touched the hilt of the sword, the two bluebirds had already fallen to the ground. He watched them gush out blood in front of him, turning into ashes. The once beautiful creature left nothing—not even a feather, except a dark bloodstain.

Just a few seconds ago, Oliver could see their slightly opened beaks, but only a desperate silence followed.

He turned his gaze to the mayor’s son. The expression of the big young man was still calm, but his face had become almost as pale as his hat. He slowly made a gesture on the cover of the holy scripture, and the red light film gradually became transparent. The only remaining Bluebird stood in a pile of ashes. There were no tears, no sounds, and no expression on his feather-covered face. He stood there, letting the spear that penetrated his body release warm blood, as if he had lost even the feeling of pain.

He raised his pair of wings on his arms very slowly and gestured weakly.

“Good.” The girl translated dryly. Her voice was flat without any fluctuation. “That’s what it says.”

The Bluebird did not pull out the spear. He struggled for a long time before he barely managed to take off, leaving behind a string of scarlet blood beads in the air. The weather was good enough today that his blue figure should have blended into the sky gracefully and perfectly, but the black spear that penetrated his arm caused him to fly askew.

Although the sun was very bright, Oliver suddenly felt cold. He moved his fingers away from the hilt of his sword and shrank his body to ensure that the black shadow was actually covering him. He suddenly noticed that the shadow itself was quivering.

He quickly turned his head. Nemo wasn’t looking at him. He wasn’t even looking anywhere. The black-haired young man clutched his ears tightly. His face was expressionless, and his eyes were looking at a certain point in the void. The fingers of his hands were wrapped with a lot of shaking small shadows, which helped him block every gap to avoid sound that might drill into the ears.

Oliver stretched out his hand and gently grabbed Nemo’s forearms. “He’s gone,” he mouthed the words slowly to Nemo.

Nemo finally let go of his hands and the dark shadows disintegrated under the sun. He was still staring at an unknown corner, as if desperately trying to stabilize his emotions.

“You can’t hear them, can you?” Nemo said, in a very soft voice. “I really envy you, Ollie.”

The “silent” screams and wails.

Nemo didn’t dare look at Oliver. He was afraid that he couldn’t hold in his out-of-control emotions. The Bluebird’s melody was shocking. He had felt the warmth and love of it before and had learned the melody of anger and hatred. However, this was the first time he heard despair and agony. Putting it into perspective, he felt better being nailed into that stone boulder by Witherspoon. The melody made everything wet and cold, like a rotting coffin, cold and rancid overnight tea, or thick dust inside ruins.  

It reminded him of the last moments of Old Patrick. The moment the hand of a loved one became cold and stiff in his hand, it was like emptiness, as if the ground had disappeared.

Those who couldn’t hear it just looked at the sad singer and remained unmoved. In each other’s eyes, they considered them to be the coldest creatures alive.

“Gather everyone immediately.” The mayor’s son straightened his hat and didn’t look at the blood stains left on the ground anymore. “I have something very important to say.”

Nemo danced his fingers, and the black shadow circled and folded according to his intention. It covered him and Oliver, completely shrouding their breath and sense of existence. He maintained a curled posture for a long time, but his legs and feet did not feel numb. He could no longer tell whether it was uncomfortable or if his limbs had turned to stone.

The white-clothed soldiers dispersed with serious expressions. The mayor’s son, Tig, sat down slowly, not caring that his white clothes were soiled by the dust on the threshold. He stared at the pool of blood for a while, his expression a little dazed, as if he had realized what he had done. For a long time, he turned his eyes stiffly, opened the holy scriptures, and silently recited the words.

His voice was very low, but Nemo could hear it very clearly.

“…We will always love our relatives, our friends, and our lovers. We will always guard them…”

The mayor’s son recited the two sentences on the back cover of the holy scriptures repeatedly, as if they were spells that could dissipate the smell of blood.

Nemo leaned in Oliver’s direction unconsciously. The other party’s body temperature poured into him. It was probably the only thing that made him feel warm at this moment. Oliver stretched out an arm quietly and half encircled it around his shoulder.

“If you can,” Oliver whispered, “I hope I can hear it too.”

They leaned quietly together and watched the people in religious uniforms gradually gather in the courtyard. The sun moved to the west and gradually turned golden red. The two maintained a tacit silence until the communication crystal glowed through the fabric.

Oliver took it out of the pocket on his chest, and Nemo was relieved to find something to divert his attention. It’s probably Ann, he thought silently, hoping that she was okay.

“It’s me.” The voice of the knight commander came from the crystal.

They exchanged unexpected glances and then stared at the exquisite crystal together.

“How is your side?”

“The mayor’s son declared war on the Bluebirds. This time, it might not be a minor squabble… They killed the Bluebird messengers.”

“Sure enough… I know why they didn’t chase us.” Adrian’s voice dropped a little. “There is a bone jade stone in this town.”

“What is that?”

“Weapons.” The former knight commander explained succinctly, “Bone jade comes from the bottom of the abyss and is usually possessed by the royal family. The accompanying stones around them are only ores radiated by their mana. There have been many on the black market, but their power is limited, so generally they turn a blind eye to them.”

“What does it have to do with whether they chase us or not?”

“As long as they are used properly, they can transform ordinary surface magic into abyssal magic. I also found a magic array that’s active… Mr. Ramon, have you heard of ‘Nightmare Praise’?”

“……No.”

Adrian let out a sigh on the other side of the crystal. “It can… It directly puts the enemy to a sleep of death without destroying the body. It’s an indiscriminate attack spell with medium range.”

“Indiscriminate attack?” Before Oliver spoke, Nemo interrupted. “They are going to directly attack the Bluebird tribe?”

“I’m afraid so. After all, it is not suitable for use on the battlefield.”

“But the mayor just said he didn’t want to fight the Bluebird—”

“This is definitely not on a whim.” Adrian’s tone was calm. “The magic array had just been completed today. There are many traces of older changes. It can be seen that whoever made this had hesitated for a long time. It makes sense. If the tribe is destroyed, Vincent Town can directly sell the corpses and won’t need to worry about us ‘spreading rumors’.”

“Mr. Cross, can you destroy it?” Oliver said, as he let go of Nemo’s shoulders.

“If I still have my powers I can. I’m afraid no one can do it now. It has been activated, and it is quite unstable. Only the caster can lift it.”

“We’ll notify Jesse. They won’t fight until noon tomorrow, so we still have time,” Oliver said quickly.

“Time to stop them?” Adrian paused. “Mr. Ramon, to be honest, I don’t think they’ll stop.”

“You stay at the magic array. I… I’ll think of a way.” Oliver gritted his teeth and said, “There’s always a way.”

Adrian let out a very light sigh, and then his voice increased a little: “Jesse Dylan?!”

“Hi darling,” a lazy voice came from the crystal, “I bear unfortunate news. I was driven out by the birds. Thank you for your communication crystal. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know where to find you.”

“What’s going on?” Oliver, who was about to terminate the call, brought the crystal closer to him again.

“Since the messengers are dead, the younger ones are in a fury.” Jesse said lazily, as if he was discussing the weather. “You see, they even kicked me out! I knew I shouldn’t have returned the book. I was caught when I came out of the holy land.”

He chuckled for a while, as if this was an extremely funny joke.

“So I only have one piece of information left—” Jesse dragged on. “They don’t seem to plan to attack at the agreed time. After all, Vincent broke the rules first. Tell me, Mr. Ramon. Those idiots don’t really think that the Bluebirds will keep to tradition in this case now, right?”

He didn’t think so. Nemo turned his head speechlessly—

The residents gathered in front of the house in town in a bustling manner. All of them wore white uniforms and crowded together like a flock of confused pigeons. They had to be careful and hide in an inconspicuous corner. 

“Praise Lavinia.” The mayor’s son’s back straightened at this moment. His voice was loud under the magic array. “With God’s blessing, we are gathered here…”

“I have an idea.” Jesse seemed to have snatched the communication crystal from Adrian. With the sound of the mayor’s son’s speech in the background, his voice was full of smiles. “Given the circumstances, we don’t have much time now. Mr. Ramon, plans are never as quick as changes, right?”

“Get to the point.” Oliver replied back with extreme difficulty through gritted teeth.

“Before the Bluebirds attack, just remove the enchantment on Vincent Town! If it’s just destroying a blessing, we have a great candidate. No one is more suitable for this job than a demon warlock. Only half the people needed to be sacrificed to ensure that the other half would survive. This is more cost-effective than total destruction, isn’t it? After those idiots turn back into Bluebirds, they probably can’t even stand up.”

Oliver slowly turned his gaze to Nemo, who was staring at the crystal solemnly.

“I saw a… Uh, rough but powerful array here. If I’m guessing this correctly, this is the prelude to their extermination. No one will blame you, dear Nemo. You’re much stronger than they are, so naturally you have the power to decide what ‘justice’ is.”

Nemo closed his eyes.

In the darkness, the slender flow of magic was pulled out of people’s bodies, enveloping the entire town like a spider web. The silver mantra threads with faint golden light looked fragile and beautiful… As if they would break with a flick of the hand.

“You’re saving them. Don’t hesitate. As long as you’re willing to do it, we can give Lavinia an answer today. Besides, the Bluebirds won’t kill all of them. They will always leave a few—”

Nemo took a deep breath and raised his eyes. In front of the mayor’s house. Young parents hugged their children and looked in the direction of the house on tiptoe. The girl with long braids who gave them direction was holding her younger siblings. One of the boys was holding a straw stalk used to blow soap bubbles. People listened quietly to the words of the burly young man without fanatical cheers or applause. They even looked numb and dazed, as if they seemed to have grown accustomed to this kind of conflict.

“…You look up to me.” Nemo was silent for a while before replying slowly. “But I’m just a mortal.”

“But you can indeed destroy the enchantment, right?”

“I won’t do that.” Nemo said. His stomach was colic from uncertainty and tension so that he even forgot how to breathe. “They will die, and those who survive will lose everything. I have no right…”

“I have no right to decide whether the lives of others should be sacrificed, Dylan.”

“You know,” Jesse Dylan’s tone was rarely serious, “none of them may survive because of your indecision.”

“That’s their choice.” Nemo raised his voice. His internal organs shrank into a ball and waves of nausea hit his throat. Nemo clenched his fists and pressed them down. “As long as one person wants to stop, we’ll help. They haven’t tried it, so we have no choice.”

The fate of the Bluebirds should not be a multiple-choice question in his own hands. Although he could not predict the future, heavy uncertainty squeezed his nerves. If he was as powerful as Jesse Dylan claimed, then there must be another solution.

It was impossible for a demon warlock to maintain a human form. It was impossible for humans to fall in love with monsters. Lavinia couldn’t wake up… The Bluebirds won’t get a happy ending. They had seen too many impossibilities, but the world was far crazier than they imagined, and it was filled with tiny miracles. A more appropriate answer must be somewhere. He just hadn’t found it yet.

At least this time, he didn’t want to give up.

Oliver grabbed the communication crystal and decisively cut off the line. Perhaps Oliver would not agree with his dangerous persistence, so Nemo subconsciously avoided his gaze. As a result, his face was forcibly held by Oliver, who twisted it to face him.

Those emerald eyes looked at him directly and warmly. There was no disgust or disappointment on Oliver’s face. On the contrary, there was even a smile on the corners of his lips.

“I agree. We’re not going to ‘save’ them,” Oliver whispered solemnly. His voice was firm and clear. “We’re going to ‘help’.”


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