Stray Ch83

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

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


Chapter 83: Incomplete Elements

The cry was not far from them. It wasn’t sad, but there was a suppressed pain in its sound.

Nemo’s first reaction was to stand up and look, while Debby frowned and clenched her rod. The cry was very short, and its owner seemed to swallow it back. Oliver moved the fastest, and when the last sound dissipated, he had already opened the door and looked out.

“It’s the lady we almost bumped into.” Oliver turned his head. “She… doesn’t look good.”

The fat middle-aged woman had stopped crying. She was squatting in front of a window in the corridor, blowing her nose vigorously with her handkerchief. Seeing someone looking around, she hurriedly moved forward, as if she wanted to stand up, but she failed. Looking at her red eyes and the abnormal flushing on her face, she might have lost all her strength from crying.

Nemo leaned against the door and saw Oliver pass by and stretched out his hand to help the lady up. Debby also looked out with interest. The moment she saw the lady, the smile on her face froze. She retracted her head sullenly and returned to the room in a bad mood.

“She is the innkeeper here, Lisa,” Ann whispered. “Before you came back, she almost used a bench to whack the client of Horizon.”

“Mrs. Lisa…” Nemo recalled the yellowish envelope for a few seconds. “Is she the one communicating with Ms. Nadine? We saw a letter signed by Lisa to Nadine.”

“That’s right. She also thinks that Ms. Nadine is ‘Nadine’s grandmother’,” Ann added. “Nemo, look after Oliver. Don’t let him leak this.”

On the other hand, Oliver had just helped the innkeeper up. She smiled gratefully and reluctantly, then turned her head and blew her nose loudly again. Her standing position was a bit strange, and her left foot didn’t seem to dare touch the ground. Nemo glanced at him, knowing that he had seen this situation hundreds of times at the orphanage.

Now he had a better way to help deal with it. Nemo walked out of the room and squatted down next to Oliver. A dark shadow wrapped around Mrs. Lisa’s ankle.

“It’s okay,” he said softly, “I’m here to help.”

“Thank you.” Mrs. Lisa looked sad and tired. She tentatively stepped on the floor with her left foot, and then stood still. “I remember you two… I almost bumped into you just now. Sorry, boys.”

“You seem to be troubled.” Oliver hesitated for a few seconds. “Is there anything we can do to help?”

“I’m afraid not.” She shook her head. She raised her eyes and saw the black badge on their chests and then turned her gaze to Ann. “Even though I really want to entrust you… It’s just that no one can beat Horizon.”

Ann sighed while Debby in the room buried her face in the pillow.

“You are—” As soon as Oliver opened his mouth, he was interrupted by Nemo’s fiercely pinching his legs, causing him to turn his head in surprise.

Nemo nervously stopped Oliver’s words. “I heard, Mrs. Lisa. Grandma Nadine treated me… She’s a kind person. It’s really a pity.” He desperately emphasized the words “grandma” and cast a stiff look at Oliver.

“Is that so?” At this point, Mrs. Lisa didn’t have the energy to care about the awkward tone of the other party. “How can I explain this to Nadine… That’s her only relative, and I can’t do anything…”

Nemo suddenly felt a little uncomfortable in his throat.

Oliver was silent for a while. “We just came back from there, and we happened to run into Horizon, who was negotiating with Nadine… Grandma Nadine.”

Mrs. Lisa slowly raised her head.

“If this can bring you comfort,” Oliver said softly, “she was very calm and was even in the mood to water her seeds.”

“You don’t need to say that.” The female innkeeper shook her head. “There’s no need to water her seeds. Whatever is in her hands, as long as the seeds are planted, flowers will bloom within the next moment… She will only water her flowers.”

She showed a somewhat vague smile. “I appreciate your kindness, but there is no need to coax me.”

“But she did water the seeds of the earthsea orchid,” Nemo quickly interjected. “Looking at your store’s name, I think you must have heard of it—”

“What?”

“Uh, earthsea orchid?”

“You just said—who watered the seeds of the earthsea orchid?” The female innkeeper’s voice suddenly became sharp, with even a hint of hostility. “Nadine’s grandmother? Bullshit! Listen, I do thank the both of you, but I’m not really in the mood to joke around right now—”

“The seeds are in a glass bottle and are very heavy, like stones.” Nemo was surprised by Lisa’s attitude. “We’re not lying to you, Mrs. Lisa.”

Lisa could feel the blood vessels in her forehead thumping. It must be because all the blood poured into her brain that her feet became cold. At this moment, she felt so dizzy that she thought she could faint. Cold sweats were pouring out uncontrollably. ‘They’re lying,’ she thought. ‘It couldn’t be true.’  She remembered it clearly…

“I will write to you.” Seventeen-year-old Nadine was breathtakingly beautiful. “I’ll… keep writing to you.”

“Listen, you’ll be able to meet a prince.” At that time, she said loudly from the bottom of her heart. “Don’t forget me when that time comes!”

Nadine smiled embarrassingly and didn’t answer. “Is there anything you want?”

“The letters are enough.”

“Other than the letters?”

“Then… Will you come back soon?”

“…What else?”

“Anything?” Even if it was an impossible wish that would make her always remember?

Nadine was the most upstanding person she had ever met, so she would always remember. This was perhaps the cleverest idea she ever had in her life. Lisa was even secretly quite proud of it.

“Then don’t tell anyone. No one, or they’ll laugh at me for being stupid,” she said very solemnly. “I want to look at an earthsea orchid. You see, this is the name of our inn. I heard my grandparents say before that they are extremely beautiful. You’re the best at these things, so maybe you can find one outside!”

“Of course,” Nadine readily promised her.

Until now, Nadine occasionally mentioned this in her letters, but she never said that she had discovered the seeds of the earthsea orchid. On that matter, Lisa knew better than anyone else. The earthsea orchids had only appeared in this town and were long extinct. Her grandfather even wrote a heavy book on it that she had read countless times.

However, the two young men said that Ms. Nadine had the seeds of the earthsea orchids, but Nadine hasn’t come back since she left. It was impossible to tell anyone this secret, let alone her grandmother.

“She doesn’t know how long she has lived. It’s just five years. Why would she be so reluctant to give it up? She didn’t waste much effort—” Howard’s annoying yelling suddenly exploded in her mind.

If such a lifespan was taken away, why was Ms. Nadine becoming weaker?

Lisa stood still, finding it difficult to breathe. The chill gnawed at her feet, and now it was starting to spread from her calf upwards. In the warm oasis, she felt as if she was standing in an ice cave.

“Impossible!” she shouted, regardless of how rude her tone sounded. “This isn’t possible.”

But could these two kind-hearted young men really lie… Lie with such accuracy? She didn’t know what her expression was now, but the worry on the faces of the two young men in front of her became more intense.

Impossible.

She couldn’t process the thought in her head right now. Lisa turned around in a daze and instinctively ran to the lobby. It’s impossible. She wrote so many letters, so many novel things…

It can’t be like this. God, please.

“…Is she okay?” Nemo’s face was a little pale. Mrs. Lisa’s distorted face had really frightened him; a superior demon. “Perhaps we shouldn’t mention this? She looks even worse now.”

“Let’s follow and have a look.” Oliver’s face was not much better than his.

“Then I’ll be here waiting for you to come back,” Ann sighed. She recognized the look in Mrs. Lisa’s eyes. She probably had figured it out, and Ann never liked to watch tragedies.

“Are you going to have a look too?” The female warrior turned to Debby. The mage of Horizon had completely buried her head in the blanket. “Nemo’s gone.”

“No… I’m not going.” Debby’s voice trembled a little, and she covered the blanket tighter. “I… I have to go back to Horizon. Ann, can you bid farewell to Nemo for me?”

At this time, the figures of the two had completely disappeared from the corridor.

When Nemo and Oliver stepped into the front hall, Mrs. Lisa was standing in front of the wooden platform shivering and rummaging for something.  Several new guests were waiting at the entrance, but she didn’t even lift her head.

“Yes, yes.” Lisa carefully picked out a letter from the pile of letters, wiped her hands carefully on her apron, and unfolded the letter. “Nadine, she was in Vincent Town in Willard three days ago!” The female innkeeper was keen to prove something. She suddenly turned to Nemo and said, “She’s there, she’s fine.”

She went to all the towns they had planned together and showed her everything she wanted to see. Her letter had never been broken, and the content was always full of hope—she couldn’t be old.

“What nonsense?” A man dressed as a merchant shouted impatiently, tapping the door frame hard with his cane. “Vincent Town disappeared more than a week ago. It was destroyed by some Black Chapters! Can we go through the formalities quickly? Shit, my goods had to be pulled from that destroyed town. What terrible luck.”

The letter fell gently on the wooden table.

The female innkeeper’s face was still flushed, and her eyes swelled to like a goldfish blistering eyes. The expression on her face was frozen at that moment that was mixed with hope and despair. Instead of looking at the loudmouthed merchant, she stared at the two Black Chapters in front of her.

Nemo turned his face, unable to stand it. His eyes were heavy, and he couldn’t bear the weight.

“You know, right?” The female innkeeper whispered. “Otherwise, why do you two… look at me so sadly?”

Lisa didn’t cry this time.

She turned around without even waiting for the two of them to answer and carefully folded the letter as if she was in a trance. She put it back into the envelope and creased the opening neatly. The movement was crisp, if one could ignore her trembling hands. She ignored all the angry guests that were waiting, carefully untied her apron, and tightened her hair tightly. She looked at the entrance for a while before she suddenly ran out. She didn’t even change into shoes that were suitable for going outside.

Oliver and Nemo glanced at each other and hurriedly followed. Mrs. Lisa’s condition was worse than they thought. If something were to happen to her, they would surely be crushed to death by guilt.

She was currently desperate enough.

Mrs. Lisa ran faster than they thought. In spite of everything, she ran recklessly and even lost her indoor shoes halfway. Her foot must have been injured as Nemo could smell blood on the trail. By the time they picked up the shoes she had lost, she was already in front of the witch’s residence and had already passed by the yard.

It was dark that night, and there was a faint and distant light in the windows of the house.

Nemo thought Lisa would rush into the door and have a sad farewell with her best friend, whom she hadn’t seen for many years, but she stopped right at the door. Half a minute later, they watched her turn around and sit weakly on the stone steps.

Mrs. Lisa didn’t care about her bleeding feet. She buried her face in her arms and hunched her shoulders without making the slightest sound.

“She…” As soon as Nemo spoke, Oliver put his hand on his shoulder. His leader shook his head and walked forward.

“Mrs. Lisa.” Oliver squatted down. His tone was very light. “We are really sorry… She didn’t want you to know.”

“It’s not your fault.” The female innkeeper didn’t raise her face. Her voice was choked with agonizing sadness. “You didn’t mean it… I know. I just…”

She took a quick breath and held it for a while, trying to suppress the cry that almost broke out.

“Is she dying?” Lisa still had her face buried in her arms. “Is she dying? But I’m not ready yet. What should I do?”

“You… Won’t you go and meet her?” Nemo still couldn’t help asking softly as the dark shadow silently crawled over the wound on the soles of Lisa’s feet.

“…She doesn’t want me to worry, so it’s better for me to continue ‘not knowing’.” Lisa finally raised her face, which was covered in tears. “At least in this way, she won’t be… too sorry.”

After another short breath, she staggered to her feet.

“I’m going for a walk,” she said softly. “Please don’t follow this time.”

“But you—”

“I still have a daughter, so I won’t do anything stupid.” Lisa’s voice grew softer. She looked at the indoor shoes in Oliver’s hands. “Thank you for your kindness… I just want to be alone for a while.”

“I see, Mrs. Lisa.” Oliver nodded and took off his own shoes. The straps had changed to be rough and coarse since they had crossed the desert, but at least the soles were strong enough. “At least… Please wear this. I still have my companion with me, so I won’t get hurt.”

The female innkeeper looked at him steadily for a while, then bowed awkwardly. She put on those somewhat bulky shoes very skillfully, and her figure quickly disappeared into the night.

“…You don’t mind?” After a while of silence, Nemo couldn’t help but speak up as he watched Oliver struggle to put on the indoor shoes.

“I’ve walked on those bloody blisters in the beginning, so this is nothing.” Oliver tried to take two steps forward, indicating that he was moving normally.

Afraid of disturbing Nadine, the two quickly left the front door of the witch’s residence. The flowers in the courtyard were in full bloom, but it was a pity that the rich and sweet fragrance of the flowers couldn’t save the bleak mood that they both were in.

“Ollie… What do we do now?” Nemo stared at a flower and asked dryly. “Personally… if I choose to leave here now, I will always feel that I am not something special.”

“I feel the same,” Oliver replied dryly. “But… I don’t mind, but can you confront Miss Light head-on?”

“…Can’t.”

“Speaking of Miss Light.” Oliver stopped suddenly. “Didn’t you just say something… What did you say? There’s a way to make Nadine lose her power? No, don’t make that expression.” Seeing Nemo’s face froze, he quickly added, “I don’t care where your knowledge came from.”

“That’s just a theoretical possibility,” Nemo said listlessly. “Do you know Woodruff’s Theorem?”

“…No.”

“…It’s okay. I didn’t know about it until yesterday,” Nemo sighed. “Once the two-way connection across space is established, it can only die out naturally in accordance with the law. The connection itself cannot be destroyed… The surface contract of a superior demon also conforms to this theorem, which is why I suspect that I know this.”

“I don’t understand,” Oliver admitted honestly. “What does it have to do with Nadine’s inability to break free?”

“She’s connected to the main plant of the Eastern Witch by its root system that spans across space. It’s like the flesh of a superior demon that’s contractually connected to the body in the Abyss. If feasible, we can kill the things on either side that connect them together, which will cause the connection to disappear naturally. However, if both sides are still alive, the connection itself is unbreakable. This is a fact.”

“But you said there was a way.”

“There is a way to indeed perfectly simulate death on one side.” Nemo pressed his temple hard. “But the power at the moment of death… Well, Debby’s right. Nadine isn’t strong enough to do it. On the other hand, although I can see the root system, I don’t have a blight spell to destroy the nodes.”

“I might have a way with Nadine.” Oliver pondered for a moment. “But why do you need a blight spell? Can’t you do it?”

“If the spell attribute exceeds the cognition of the root system, it will only think that she has been attacked. It won’t recognize Nadine’s death, so it won’t disconnect on its own.”

“In other words… There’s still hope.”

“But we only have one day left!” Nemo rubbed his face vigorously, staring at the indoor shoes that were covered in sharp stones. Thank God there wasn’t a smell of blood in the air. “It’s too late.”

“There’s still time.”

“Ollie, what’s wrong with your throat?”

“…It’s not me who answered you.” Oliver’s voice was a little dry.

“There’s still time.” That voice was not far from them, hidden in the darkness. It was hoarse and weird, like a dying old man speaking on his last breath.

“There’s still time,” the voice repeated.


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