Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 67: Forced Entry
In that small-scale war, they had no time to really look around. Now that the smoke had dissipated, there was only the slightly muggy night left. The crickets chirped among the grass, and the flying insects buzzed and slammed into the glass shade of the oil lamps. Due to the melting of the large amount of ice, there were many small puddles on the damaged streets. The smell of wet straw and mud eventually masked the smell of burning and fire that was still leftover after dusk.
There were lights in the windows of buildings unaffected by the battle, but there were no figures in the damaged ones, like the one that they were in now.
“Why?” Oliver was momentarily stunned. His gaze stopped on Adrian’s pale face.
“I know about the plans of the townspeople.” Ann’s tone was stiff. “Some people decided to stay in place. For safety, you know, to prevent us from leaking their secret—they will rebuild the town in a different place. Others decided to leave… In order to never fall in love.” She smiled bitterly.
“But I have to say, it’s better than both sides dying together. That hoodlum who started the war probably used some means to incapacitate his father. Now that the mayor’s awake and the kid is locked up. They are probably discussing future arrangements at this moment.” She turned her gaze to the brightly lit building not far away.
“But no matter what the outcome, Vincent Town will no longer exist.” Nemo couldn’t tell what he was feeling at that moment.
“Yes, that’s why I was going to say,” Ann whispered. “In order to protect their ‘human indentity’, no one will tell the truth to the outside world. After all, neither side believes in prophecies, and you’re still just outsiders who stuck their nose in their business. Since the two of you returned safely, it seems that the attitude of the Bluebirds towards you isn’t bad, but…”
“The townspeople of Vincent Town may not necessarily think that way.” Oliver raised his eyes. “Maybe in their eyes, we’re the culprits who caused their failed crusade.”
“Not everyone likes the ‘truth’. There will definitely be some who think like that, and these people are most likely to leave. After the information gets out… Haa.” The female warrior shook her head for a few seconds. “Oliver, Nemo, although we haven’t known each other for too long, you… are all good young people. If you continue like this, I don’t know if you can maintain your current state of mind.”
And they were too powerful. Ann Savage couldn’t say these words. After being in this business for more than 20 years, she knew exactly what they would encounter. She could tell that they were different from her. These two people had grown up in a safe environment with warm love, but human nature had never stood to this many tests.
That simple and pure kindness, if it kept hitting a wall over and over again, it would turn into disappointment and anger, because even if one made the most perfect choice, they may not get their fairytale happy ending. The world was much crazier than what they had come into contact with. Maybe they could have persisted, maybe they couldn’t. She admired them greatly. If they were just two young people with ordinary strength, Ann Savage wouldn’t mind continuing to lead them forward.
But their powers were too dangerous.
A good person in complete despair was sometimes much more terrible than a wicked person. They would know the pain of being hurt and how to attack others.
“Of course, it’s not a real dissolution… You don’t have ambitions, right? This would be a good opportunity for you to find a peaceful place to settle in Willard. You only need to complete one Black Chapter task a month, and I’ll help you find the simplest one. With your strength, there won’t be much trouble,” Ann said with a sigh. She stared at the flying insects that were attracted to the oil lamp without looking them in the eyes. “You can live normally for the rest of your life. As long as you show such actions, the Mercenary Guild will no longer keep an eye on you. The danger level will not rise, and the task will become less difficult. Think about it, Oliver.”
She didn’t want to see them sink.
“……Ann.” Oliver looked her directly in the eye. “I know what you are worried about.”
Nemo turned his head. While the other party’s attention was focused on the female warrior, he quietly looked at Oliver.
It felt like it was yesterday that Oliver had dragged him through that forest that night. At that time, they had nothing. No destination, no direction, and no plan on how to live for tomorrow. They were also panicked and completely unable to imagine what was waiting in front of them… And then they met Ann. Although their first encounter was rocky, without her, they probably would’ve been killed by some other bounty hunter long ago or would be rotting in a prison by now.
Until now, he didn’t think Ann was afraid of the trouble they caused. Nemo had seen her eyes that resembled Old Patrick. He had the same expression when he watched those talented children leave with the mercenary groups.
The female warrior was truly worried about them.
“I admit that I don’t particularly care, but personally, I didn’t do it to get their gratitude.” Oliver scratched his head. His tone was cautious and solemn. “I believe Nemo is the same. It’s a bit uncomfortable, but I’m not disappointed.”
He stroked the rough hilt of the bone sword with one hand. “At least we have changed something, haven’t we? We really have no reason to move on, but if we are not here, even if we hear about it—”
“It will become a simple story of ‘humans resisting monsters’.” Nemo took the words out of his mouth. “It’s very ordinary, and it’s not even worth mentioning, but we know that’s not the case.”
The world was crazier than they thought, but was also more gentle than they had imagined.
“I’m not sure if my decision today was correct, and I’m not sure if my approach has always been correct,” Oliver glanced at Nemo, “but if I stay where I am, I may never understand. I want to continue, Ann.”
“It makes no difference to me.” Nemo shrugged and didn’t look away. “…As long as you don’t leave me alone. It’s too tiring to meet new people.”
“…Okay.” Ann closed her eyes tightly as if she had made up her mind and breathed a long sigh of relief. “Anyway, that was just a suggestion. You’re the captain.”
“Thank you,” Oliver said softly.
Nemo subconsciously breathed a sigh of relief and was surprised by his reaction. It stood to reason that he should want to settle down sooner than everyone else. In the battle at dusk, the moment the space was split, Oliver’s trust and cooperation made him instantly relax and feel free—this feeling made all of his hair stand up. The attitude of the townspeople and the Grace Bluebirds all became irrelevant at that moment.
He was like a person who had tasted honey once and could no longer survive the unchanging bitterness.
“If we need do a task at least once a month, then our task this month has failed… Do we have to find another one?” Nemo suppressed those messy thoughts and asked a more realistically question.
“Well, let’s get out of here first.” Oliver nodded. “Nemo, can you treat Adrian? If we can, we’ll leave tonight.”
“This time, I’ll pick the task.” Ann instantly became alert.
Nemo coughed dryly. He stretched out his right hand and held it close to the sleeping Knight Commander. The dark shadows dripped like liquid around his fingers, but they did not succeed in healing Adrian Cross’ wounds. Rather, the opposite happened. The skin under the dark shadow made a hissing sound, and the wound even festered a bit. Nemo quickly withdrew the dark shadow almost immediately, as the boiling shadow slid suspiciously between his fingers.
“That won’t work.” Jesse reappeared like a gum one couldn’t get rid of. He was squatting on the half-broken wall, carrying a bulging cloth bag while the gray parrot was resting on his shoulder. “The attribute of your power is the opposite of his, dear Mr. Light. Your treatment will only kill him.”
Nemo raised his head and squinted his eyes at the gray parrot, who turned its head guiltily.
Jesse jumped off the wall neatly, pulled out a piece of paper with a magic array, and ignited it directly above Adrian’s chest. Under the soft white light, the knight’s haggard breathing became more even. There was still some cold sweat on his forehead, but he finally opened his eyes slowly.
“…It has to be done like this,” he concluded.
“Mr. Dylan, I thought our cooperation was over.” Oliver glanced at the outline of the bag. “It seems that your mission was also very successful. Congratulations.”
Jesse looked at him with a grin, raising one eyebrow.
Oliver sighed. “You have indeed helped us a lot, but our mission has failed. I think we’re done—”
“Really?” Jesse said, while Adrian, on one side, struggled to sit up as he pinched his eyebrows. “Have you confirmed your mission?”
“Things have reached this point.” Oliver quickly called out the task screen with one hand. “I don’t think Mr. Delany… will…” His voice hesitated.
Behind their task, a logo that symbolized completed hung.
“You can confirm with the client tomorrow morning.” Jesse Dylan put down the bag in his hand and gently lay the gray parrot on the sofa. He lowered his head, allowing his blond hair to fall down his cheeks. “Permit me introduce myself again. Jesse Dylan. Liar, thief, robber, and wandering diviner. Choose which ever word tickle your fancy.”
“…Okay,” Oliver wiped his face fiercely and responded dryly. “Without you, we really couldn’t finish the task. Now we might as well have an open discussion. What do you want?”
“Is anything on the table?” Jesse asked expectantly as his eyes swept around the group of stiff people.
“You can’t poach anyone.” It may be due to the other party’s gaze feeling too explicit that Oliver couldn’t help but add, “…Nothing involves physical contact either.”
“How stingy. Then I can only take a step back.” Jesse curled his lips. “Let me join you.”
“Okay… No, what are you talking about?”
“A change in team, a change in mood.” Jesse rolled his shoulders. “Look how hard I work! Besides, can’t you see, we had such a great time working together, didn’t we? You can always kick me out at any time if I’m not behaving—isn’t this a good deal?! You won’t kick me out in the next second, will you? You don’t seem to be such a shameless person… Right?”
“…Another request.” Oliver turned his face.
“I don’t want to change it.”
“Then let me put it another way. We heard Pasotalo mentioned it,” Oliver said loudly enough for Ann and Adrian to hear. “You’re a powerful diviner, or prophet. I believe you have your purpose… And we don’t welcome those with ulterior motives.”
“Even if I am willing to provide clues?”
“Don’t you want to know the origins of Mr. Light? I can divine clues for you.” Jesse straightened up his collar, which contained intricate embroidery. “If no progress is made, you can kick me out at that time, and I promise I won’t bother you again. As you can see, I can’t possibly beat the four of you.”
Oliver warily glanced at Nemo. Nemo shook his head quickly, making a crazy gesture of rejection.
“Besides, even if you don’t agree, I can always follow you,” the blond young man added.
Nemo’s actions froze.
“Wait a minute,” Adrian finally said, his voice a little weak.”Mr. Ramon, the Nightmare Praise, was destroyed by Mr. Dylan. He is most likely related to the Laddism Church.” He sat up straight, not intending to hide his thoughts. “I have an unscrupulous request. I need to figure out his origin. If you don’t plan to agree, I will apply to leave the team for the time being.”
He lowered his head. “I’m very sorry for the trouble I caused after joining so soon.”
“You’re no longer the commander of the Knights of Judgement.”
“But if he’s really related to the Holy Church and uses that power to do evil, then he’s my responsibility.”
“Well spoken,” Jesse said affectionately, in a very ambiguous tone. “Please be responsible for me.”
Adrian looked away. His expression was still firm but a little green.
“Why don’t we let Dylan join us temporarily? I think he’ll somewhat behave,” Nemo whispered. “If worst comes to worst, we can just tie him to the goat. He’s a diviner, so he’ll never go on a fatal mission with us. At any rate, he can at least be a weather vane. This way, Mr. Cross doesn’t need to leave the team.”
Although he didn’t know what this dangerous person with a strange personality liked about them, Nemo was confident in the boring life that their team was about to unfold. After suffering two big losses, they would never touch a suspicious task again, which could make Jesse Dylan become bored of them soon.
“…You know I can hear you, right? How can you talk about me like this!”
“Fine.” Oliver was still staring at the completion logo behind the task. “I have no opinion. Ann, what do you think?”
“Can’t we kill him?” The female warrior exhaled and touched her spear.
“Then I have no other opinions.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ramon. I will monitor him during this period.” Adrian stood up a little shaky and did a standard church gesture solemnly. The gray parrot eagerly flew up from the back of the sofa and landed happily on the shoulders of the blond young man, as if he was the object of its contract.
“Then I have some private business to deal with. I’ll be leaving first, darlings. See you tomorrow—” He took the gray parrot off again and politely put it back on the sofa. “This matter requires some privacy.”
He put up his index finger and made a silent gesture to the gray parrot.
Honestly speaking, none of them had any real sense of Oliver’s decision, including Oliver himself. The air became dull and depressing, and the sense of ease at the end of the event was swept away. Because Adrian was still weak, after a simple exchange of information, they all fell asleep in the ruined home.
At four in the morning, the last light in Vincent Town went out.
Carrying the bag of broken bones on his back, Jesse Dylan hummed a minor tune and stepped into the Holy Land of the Bluebirds. At this moment, the tree bird in the center had long disappeared, and all that remained was the pearl-colored powder that was gathered in a pile.
The blond young man untied the mouth of the bag and poured the contents out back onto the pile of bones on the ground. The mission scroll unfolded in the air and he signed his name at will. Unlike when Oliver checked it, the client’s name twisted like a worm for a moment before it turned into the words “Jesse Dylan”.
He completed his own task.
“Not only do I have to pay taxes, but I also have to share with them.” He shook his head. “Haa, this is just charity for the Mercenary Guild.”
No one responded to him. He went to the pile of snow-white ash, stretched out his hand to grab it, and then let it slide down between his fingers.
The last meeting between Jesse Dylan and Lavinia was very short. Originally, he only planned to return the book and told her to take a good look, but she still stopped him.
“You’re really helping us, Mr. Dylan.”
“Yeah, didn’t I tell you earlier? You’re being too excessive.”
“But divination and prophesizing come at a huge price. Why are you…”
“There’s no such thing as a prophecy in the world, love. That’s something calculated after combining countless details to get the most likely result. Instead of learning about the ‘future’, you have to obtain ‘enough information to predict the results’. The price is nothing more than the cost of information. In other words, as long as enough unreasonable variables occur, the prophecy could be overturned.”
“You didn’t answer my question directly. You didn’t seem to have paid any price for the prophecy.”
“That’s interesting. I just answered the same question to someone else before. Why should I ask others for what I already have in my hand? There’s no need to ask, so naturally there won’t be a deal.”
He didn’t answer at that time, but he thought she should know the answer to that question.
“Are you satisfied now?” the blond young man said nonchalantly to the ash. “You see, even you… resented your beloved faith for a moment.”
He paused and showed off an insincere smile. “That’s only right. It’s normal, isn’t it? Why wouldn’t Adrian Cross do it?”
“How hateful,” he concluded.
End of the third arc. The next arc is very exciting.
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2 thoughts on “Stray Ch67”
Thanks for the chapters!! :3
me: basking in confusion 😌
alright, let’s go arc 3 🙃
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