Stray Ch162

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

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


Chapter 162: Caramel Apple Tart

Four o’clock in the morning.

In the largest inn in the center of Clementine, Godwin Lopez opened his eyes as usual and sat up in bed.

The leader of Horizon didn’t bother with the armor placed on the wooden shelf. Wearing only pajamas, he stepped barefoot on the soft and comfortable carpet, then he frowned and lifted and rolled it up, revealing a smooth wooden floor under it. After he was ready, Godwin quickly changed into simple commoner clothing for training and grabbed his Breaking Dawn that was still in its scabbard by the bed.

It was time to practice.

When he first held the Breaking Dawn, he could hardly control the immense power that burned in his hands. Day after day of frantic fighting, Godwin finally got the hang of it, barely managing to hold more than half of its power in his hand and turning it to his own use when necessary. It wasn’t dawn yet, and the space in this inn was limited—There were no exaggerated movements. The steel of Break Dawn split the air, again and again, as its powers were suppressed by its owner.

Godwin didn’t slacken. This was just an extremely ordinary day for more than a decade. He stared at the sword in his hand, letting the sweat penetrate his eyebrows and slide across the bridge of his nose. Time passed by quickly, and the moment the clock struck six, the sword slid just right into the deepest part of the scabbard.

The practice ended on time, and Godwin’s entire body seemed like it had just been fished out of water. He wiped his sweat casually with a handkerchief, took a quick shower, and then changed into a tight-fitting top that matched his armor. He cleaned up the sweat stains on the floor, spread the carpet again, and shortly after came a knock on the door.

It was the maid who came to deliver breakfast.

The contents of the breakfast were the same as always—pumpkin seed bread, boiled vegetables sprinkled with salt and pepper with sliced fried mushrooms, egg cups with perfectly cooked eggs, and a glass of milk. According to his request, the food in front of him was no different from yesterday’s.

As it should be.

Godwin raised his eyebrows and looked at the plate in the corner of the tray. A tempting golden brown dessert was lying on it, exuding bursts of sweet aroma—the apple was cut into extremely thin slices, blooming like a rose on the surface of the dessert, and the icing was shining with a crystal luster. The dessert didn’t look too big, and in terms of appearance, it could even be called a work of art.

“The specialty of our shop, caramel apple tart.” The maid showed a decent smile. “This is a gift. Our chef admires you very much, and he wants to use it to express his respect for you.”

Godwin narrowed his eyes slightly and was silent for a few seconds.

“Thank you very much,” After a while, he replied in a cheerful voice. “It looks great. It’s a pity that my teeth have been a little painful recently, so it’s really inconvenient to eat sweet things.”

“Uh… Do you have any teammates who like sweets?” The maid winked. “If you bring it back to the kitchen now, it’ll get cold. It’s better to eat this thing hot—”

“It’s for you, lovely lady.” Godwin made a “shh” gesture. “How about you keep my toothache a secret?”

Godwin took the tray and kept a polite distance throughout the process, but the young maid’s face was still flushed. She picked up the small plate, looking a little at a loss. The handsome big man in front of her showed a very kind smile, squinted at her, and then stuffed her with a few silver coins as a tip.

The maid held up the plate with the expensive dessert and nodded with a heartfelt gratitude.

Unfortunately, she couldn’t see… After the door closed, the warm smile on Godwin Lopez’s face disappeared instantly. The young leader of Horizon sat down at the table, looking at the steaming breakfast in front of him, and suddenly lost most of his appetite.

He still had to eat what he should eat. Godwin inserted a fork into the soft mushroom, mechanically stuffed it into his mouth, and chewed it carefully, but right now his attention wasn’t on the taste of the food at all.

Caramel apple tart, how simply ironic. After swallowing the food in his mouth, he let out a sigh from between his lips.

Everyone in Horizon knew that Godwin Lopez never touched sweets, and he didn’t eat hard to swallow food, just like those bitter monks. When the situation was tough, he was no different than others and wasn’t picky about food. It was just at the end of the mission, while everyone ate and drank whatever they wanted, their leader would still eat the same things year after year.

The strong were more or less weird, and the members of Horizon have long since stopped being surprised. After all, their leader never went on a hunger strike to abuse himself, and eating lighter was healthier, so over time, people stopped caring.

Godwin never touched alcohol, tobacco, sugar, or excessive spices and oils.

If it had been replaced by any other dessert, he wouldn’t have been shaken for half a second. Ironically, he did know what caramel apple tart tasted like. Godwin quickly finished his breakfast, took out a neatly packed pile of information, and began to look through it carefully.

This was a record related to Roadside Town.

Before taking over the investigation mission of Tumbleweed, after knowing the true identity of Oliver Ramon, he had already thoroughly studied this town by the border, but his contact with it wasn’t limited to paper and words.

He had been to the Border Forest near Roadside Town many years ago.

Godwin’s movement of looking through the paper slowed down. He lowered his gaze and looked at the neat handwriting on the parchment. When he was about six years old, his father took him to the Border Forest for survival training. That memory was still vivid and annoying to this day.

“That’s the forest closest to the Abyss.” The father in his memory had always been expressionless. “You will have a sword and you need to survive here alone for a week. I won’t make a move unless you’re really dying. Don’t take any chances and ask for help casually, remember.”

“Yes, father.”

“Don’t mention your identity to anyone.”

“Yes, father.”

“You just need to know one thing. You’re not destined to die in that place, Godwin.” His father stared into his eyes tightly, his eyes filled with emotions he couldn’t understand. “Perhaps this task will bring you great pain, but you have to remember—people have strength, and naturally, they also have the responsibility corresponding to that strength. You’re destined to save the world and maintain the well-being of mankind. Did you understand?”

“…Yes, father.” He had heard this phrase repeated repeatedly until his ears were calloused, but the young Godwin honestly couldn’t really understand the meaning of this sentence.

It wasn’t like he had never hated his father.

The depths of the Border Forest in the evening were no different from the demon realm. It had strange demons of all shapes and sizes lurking in the shadows. Although this wasn’t the first time he had conducted survival training and was mentally prepared in advance, Godwin was almost scared to tears. The form of plants looked distorted, revealing unusual bright colors, and he dared not eat them. Ordinary animals were extremely rare, and he couldn’t catch any prey. He was so hungry that he was about to faint.

Godwin, who was less than seven years old, clenched the silver sign on his chest with a location array engraved on it. Through it, his father would know where he was and his emotional and physical state…

But his great father had no intention of showing up.

His father was a liar. He was obviously about to die soon. Godwin touched his face with his sleeve, which had already been soaked in demon blood and sniffled. Hunger made him dizzy, and the demon he had just killed was lying beside him. Its stinky internal organs flowed all over the place. He stepped on the pile of slippery flesh and blood with one foot and firmly fell into a pile of corpses.

A little bit of black blood fell into his mouth, and Godwin quickly got up and began to force himself to vomit without hesitation. This thing was poisonous, and he didn’t want to completely fail so soon.

His stomach was empty, and he almost vomited bile. Godwin inserted the sword into the soil and resisted without falling again. His bloody mouth that was scratched by the demon was still burning with pain and his limbs were as soft as cotton.

I don’t want to continue.

Godwin trembled and grabbed the silver badge. With the fear of resisting his father for the first time, he threw it on top of the bloody corpse pile, and then stumbled towards the edge of the forest. If he remembered correctly, there should be a small town near the Border Forest. If there were inhabitants, it meant having food, clean water, and the breath of living people…

He was running away, and Godwin knew it. He could still feel the magic fluctuations coming from the silver badge, and it reminded him of this every moment.

But Godwin couldn’t care less right now. The sun was about to set, and after night fell, the depths of the forest would only get more dangerous. He had enough of this. He could smell the strong smell of death. Godwin thought desperately, Tiger poison didn’t eat its children*. Was he really his father’s child?’

*(虎毒尚不食子) = Idiom that refers to not hurting others that are close to you (AKA Even a vicious tiger will not eat its cubs).

He didn’t know how long he ran before he reached the edge of the forest. The sword that was stained with purple and black blood was casually inserted at his feet as Godwin fell to his knees and held them with both hands, gasping for breath with difficulty and pain.

Then he saw food.

There were small white mushrooms growing by the root of a tree, which looked round and cute, completely different from those that were poisonous at first glance in the depths of the forest. Godwin vaguely remembered that this thing could be eaten, so he rushed to them. It was enough to satisfy his hunger.

He hurried to the pile of mushrooms, reaching to pluck one out…

“You want to eat this thing?” someone asked curiously.

Godwin trembled all over. He took two steps back abruptly, holding the hilt of the sword directly in his hand. Then he clearly saw the appearance of the visitor, and in just two seconds, he let go of his weapon in defeat.

The figure in front of him had just crawled out of a swamp. His head and face were covered with grime, and dried mud was caked all over his clothes. Even though he was covered in blood now, Godwin subtly thought he looked more decent.

It was a boy, almost the same height as him, with only green eyes and white teeth; those were the only things that still held their original color on the boy. The small basket behind him wasn’t stained with much mud, and the vines protruding from it were glowing warmly under the light of the setting sun.

“You can’t eat this thing directly,” the boy said solemnly, glancing curiously at the sword in Godwin’s hand. “Are you the child of an adventurer? You should know this.”

“Nn.” Godwin responded stiffly. “I… don’t remember much about it.”

“We call it the laughing salt mushroom.” The boy shrugged and began to pull up the white mushrooms neatly. “This stuff is chopped up and put into soup, which gives the soup a nice salty fresh taste. You can’t eat it by itself, or you’ll get salted to death. And—”

He paused mysteriously for a bit, gave a big smile, and another piece of dry mud fell from his face. “If you don’t cook it with hot potato vine, it’ll keep you in a state of giggling.”

Godwin glanced at the cluster of mushrooms regretfully. Giggling was the next best thing to a high salt-induced thirst that was fatal. He could only bear to give them up and watch the kid in front of him pluck a handful of them.

“My name is Oliver.” After the muddy boy plucked all the mushrooms, he introduced himself with a big grin. “How about you? Why are you here?”

“Um.” Back then, Godwin wasn’t used to lying, so he had to look away embarrassingly. The other party’s name had no reference value anyway, and he struggled to come up with an excuse for himself. There might be more than ten little boys named Oliver in this town alone.

“Oh, okay. After all, you’re the child of an adventurer, I get it.” Oliver curled his lips. “Where are your parents?”

“I… got separated from my father.” Godwin struggled to pull the lie out of his head.

“Oh, then you have to find him quickly.” Oliver pulled out a thin hemp rope from the basket and expertly tied the mushrooms into a bunch. “Look, it’s getting late… My father said that there are palulu weevils active nearby and many children have died recently. They specifically target children who are running around alone, which is quite scary.”

As he said it, he raised his chest, obviously very proud of this knowledge.

Godwin was dumbfounded. He had already memorized the demon encyclopedia thoroughly, and there was absolutely no such thing. It was probably made up by this kid’s father to fool him, but seeing the other party’s inexplicable cheerful mood, he didn’t want to spoil the mood.

“I see. Thank you for your reminder.” He coughed a few times and prepared to find food somewhere else.

Oliver opened the lid of the back basket and put the bunched mushrooms he skewered in there. The fleshy mushrooms brushed against vines, and Godwin couldn’t help but turn his head and look at them sternly. “This… Is it really impossible to eat? Is there a way to get rid of the salt?”

“Nope, unless you cook soup.” Oliver shook his head solemnly. “Although I picked so much, I really don’t like them at all. This is a revenge prop. Ah, do you see me like this? It’s all my dad’s fault.”

Godwin wanted to slip away quietly but was led to stay in place by this sentence.

“I switched the sugar and salt in the shop.” Oliver sounded a little angry. “He was going to spank me with his shoe and chased me around half the town. I can understand. After all, the guests didn’t like the sweet onion soup, but when I ran away, I accidently fell into a mud pit. You know, it was a really big mud pit! As a result, my dad…”

“What happened to him?”

“My dad went home with a wild smile and didn’t even pull me out,” Oliver sounded extremely aggrieved, “so I decided to do something to the mushroom soup for dinner. I have replaced the potato vine with bean vine. That’s all.”

He dangled a string of mushrooms. “I’m going to make him giggle for a day.”

“…” Godwin’s heart inexplicably welled up with a little cold loss. He looked at the boy of similar age as him and a strange sour feeling spread instantly. He straightened his back, slate up his blood-stained face, and intended to leave.

“Hey, hey, hey, wait. The sun is going down!” Oliver, who was squatting on the ground, stood up quickly, “Why don’t you go to town for the night first? There’s an orphanage in our town— Uh, sorry, I know your father is fine— I just want to say that Grandpa Patrick is very kind and he’s absolutely willing to take you in for a night.”

“No need,” Godwin whispered. “I know where my father is.”

He couldn’t leave with such a stranger rashly.

“Well, since you insist… Ouch!” Oliver scratched his head and ended up forgetting about the mushroom skewer that he was still holding in his hand. The back of the basket on the ground was ripping over, and two tied oil-paper bags rolled out.

The sweet smell of roasted apples suddenly leaked out a little, causing Godwin to shiver in place. He glanced at the two paper bags quietly and decided to leave this unlucky place quickly.

However, his internal organs betrayed him. There was an embarrassingly loud growl that came from his stomach.

Oliver was stunned. He glanced at the paper bag, then at Godwin, and finally turned his gaze to the paper bag. Even if his face was covered with mud, Godwin could still see the struggle in his opponent’s eyes.

“You, you are hungry…” Oliver muttered in a low voice, “Oh, okay.”

He frowned and picked up one of the paper bags and stuffed it into Godwin’s hand.

“It’s rare that I was in a bad mood, so I spent all my pocket money in a single go. This is for eating with Mr. White.” Oliver’s voice was getting smaller. “Although Mr. White can’t eat it himself, I have to eat it for him… In short, it shouldn’t matter if I give you one! Mr. White will certainly not blame me.”

Godwin’s hand trembled a little. He thanked him with difficulty and quickly tore open the paper bag and tossed away all the etiquette engraved in his mind. The thing in the paper bag wasn’t unfamiliar. He had seen it in the window of the dessert shop—caramel apple tart, a beautiful treat.

The sweetness was so seductive that he had asked his father for this treat twice, but unfortunately, they all ended in failure. Godwin never imagined he would come into contact with it in this kind of situation. He looked at half the apple tart that was pre-cut in the paper bag, took a deep breath, and bit into it carefully.

So it tasted like this.

Godwin couldn’t say anything. The dessert was delicious, better than anything he had ever eaten, but his eyes burst into tears. The muddy-faced boy on the opposite side didn’t seem to expect such a reaction, so he was stunned.

“Is it that delicious?” Oliver’s voice trembled a little. “I…I know this apple tart is good. After all, it wasn’t cheap… But is it really that good?”

Godwin didn’t answer him but swallowed the half piece of pastry while he made strong sniffles. Even though half a treat didn’t fill his stomach at all, the smell was enough to keep him quiet for a long time.

Oliver seemed to be struggling even more. He grinned and turned around a few times, as if he had made up his mind. He scratched his head and pushed the other paper bag he had over as well.

“You can eat it,” Oliver announced rather painfully as he huffed a few agonizing puffs. “Your movements, ah… You’re still hungry, right?”

“Hurry up and eat it. Otherwise, I might not be able to resist changing my mind.” Then he quickly put away the basket with a determined air, as if he intended to escape from the half piece of dessert left. “Just… That’s it! I’d better save up again and eat with Mr. White next time…”

Oliver sounded like he was on the verge of tears.

Godwin sighed and wanted to refuse, but the other party ran out without looking back.

“…You have to find your father quickly!” After running more than a hundred meters, the muddy figure stopped. Oliver turned his head and added, “Watch out for the weevils!”

Then he ran away, and soon disappeared.

Godwin sat on the ground flat on his ass. This time, he untied the second paper bag very carefully, chewed in small bites, and ate extremely slowly.

It was truly a very sweet treat, but it tasted much saltier than before. He failed to stop his tears, and the long-accumulated grievances and pain finally broke through. He struggled to stuff the last piece of it into his mouth, and then, for the first time in his life, he cried out of sadness.

‘They are really different,’ he thought.

[You are not destined to die in that place, Godwin.]

His father didn’t lie, so was the rest also true? ……For example, could he really bring true peace to the surface?

If the surface was destroyed, these kind people would also disappear, but his father said he was destined to save them. If this was a responsibility, then “responsibility” may not be a difficult concept to understand. People who were relaxed and happy, people who lived a life beyond his reach—he liked them, and he hoped they could continue to live like this without having to understand the bitterness that he felt.

Such a world may become a little better.

‘Father’s right,’ he thought bitterly. Sweetness could really deprave people and create the illusion of happiness. Godwin stood up and pulled out the sword that he had inserted into the soil. This time, it was his own choice and he glanced at the lights of the town not far away again…

He ran away, and this time he chose not to escape anymore.

Until now, he had never indulged once.

Pulling himself out of the long-ago memory, Godwin put down the pages in his hand and began to put on his armor. According to the contract, it was time for him to report his current progress to his employer…

“Mr. Lopez.” The communication crystal lit up on time, and a warm, sweet female voice came from across the room. “Good morning.”

“Good morning, Mrs. Mandy. Are you in better health?” Godwin’s tone was calm and polite.

“Much better. Thank you for your concern.” The woman across the table let out a soft laugh. “I think I’ll be able to return to my post today… Gee, I haven’t seen those little ones for a few days and I kinda miss them. You don’t know how sorry I am to have missed the freshman orientation.”

The female employer of Horizon paused.

“I hope there will be a few good seedlings in the Pathology of Abyssal Magic class,” she sighed softly. “To tell you the truth, my memory is still a bit hazy. The research project on the Trent Plague… Well, I have to find a smart assistant for it.”


The author has something to say:

Oliver, if you didn’t have such a lousy name, your brother might be able to recognize you.

So what he did to the Demon King’s skull before was… buy two servings of food, pretends to give Mr. White one, and then eats it all happily (……

Nemo: Hehe, I remember it all, Ollie√

——————

The disease Ollie had was Trent Plague XD.


Kinky Thoughts:

Oh man, this chapter is so bittersweet. I love how cute Oliver was as a kid. Poor Godwin. I take everything mean I thought about him back. He deserves happiness! I’ll buy you all the caramel apple tarts you want!

And the two of them didn’t even recognize each other ugh!!!

I also really love how the author can seamlessly connect all those small innocuous details. I don’t remember which chapter it was, but Ollie did mention how he once pissed off his dad by replacing the salt with sugar… and this led to this event.


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4 thoughts on “Stray Ch162

  1. I want to adopt baby Godwin QAQ

    I wonder if Nemo will be discovered by Godwin because of his full marks in Pathology of Abyssal Magic and Ms. Mandy looking for new seedling 😂😂😂 That would be hilarious qwq

    Like

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