Stray Ch217

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

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


Chapter 217: Human Hand

“Maybe he’s crazy.” Oliver pinched the thick piece of parchment, his voice dry.

The leader of Tumbleweed was so shocked that he almost accidentally dropped the phonetic crystal in his hand.

Nemo opened his mouth and was just about to answer but found that there was a subtle difference in his surroundings. He got the answer in the next second—Telaranea’s pleasant humming stopped at some point, and the air was a bit scary.

Even though the brilliance of the spell illuminated the entire attic brightly, the chill of early autumn was still surging slowly on the floor and tended to grow colder more consistently.

“That’s not necessarily true,” the Sage of the Abyss, who had not joined the conversation, suddenly spoke and interjected Oliver’s conjecture smoothly.

Unlike the relaxed tone full of joy just now, Telaranea’s voice tightened. It sounded like he had entered another state of full concentration, like a beast lying down in the grass, staring unblinkingly at a target that was grazing.

He carefully put away the strangely shaped metal tools, acting solemnly as if he was performing some ritual.

“He died of starvation.” Putting away the tools carefully, the red-haired superior demon added in a very soft voice, as if worried about disturbing the body’s sleep.

But the explanation of the superior demon failed to relax the atmosphere. The unexpected cause of death caused the two members of Tumbleweed to take a step back away from the body.

“Starvation?” Nemo stared at Telaranea’s face, trying to find traces of teasing on it.

“You can say that.” Telaranea approached very naturally and looked through the parchment that the two had just discovered. “Well, let me see… This date would make sense.”

Nemo tried to stare at the corpse again, but after scanning the withered large and small eyes on the chest of the mummified corpse, the great Demon King swallowed loudly and gave up the idea decisively.

“Our introducer, this gentleman, died within three days of writing this thing. According to this date, it’s inferred that this body has been here for a full ten years. From the transaction with Flint Lopez 23 years ago, it seems that he has been studying this matter for the past thirteen years.”

Telaranea looked through the thick parchment, and the frivolity in his voice disappeared without a trace.

“I take back my evaluation just now, he’s not considered mediocre.”

“Why?” Nemo tried his best to reduce the number of words he exchanged with Telaranea.

“Those eyes were not transplanted on all at once, Mr. Light. They are both new and old. The earliest ones are more than 20 years old. The freshest ones were buried even shortly before his death, and the wounds didn’t heal. He connected all of them into his brain, and his technique was… superb.” Telaranea was talking, but his eyes didn’t move away from the parchment.

“On the other hand, when the two of you were rolling in a pile of papers, I checked the situation around the body.”

The Sage of the Abyss obviously didn’t bother to explain it to them in detail. With a wave of his hand, a translucent humanoid white shadow appeared in the middle of the room. The white shadow was barely regarded as the shape of an adult man, with no facial features. The light passed through its body without producing anything resembling a shadow on the floor.

Telaranea snapped his fingers.

The white shadow first made a sorting motion by the information box and then assumed a sitting posture in front of the window. Even the backrest of the chair was facing it at this moment.

It sat quietly, motionless.

After about half a minute, it struggled to stand up and slammed to the floor. Without any intention of getting back up, the white shadow crawled to the window and struggled to close it.

Then it sat back in its chair, looking like it was trying to catch its breath.

After taking a break, the figure twisted its body, as if it was reversing some heavy object. Nemo stared at the translucent white figure solemnly—unsurprisingly, the object was the lightweight armchair.

After moving in the direction of the chair, the figure left the chair again and made a gesture of reaching out to the decayed corpses piled on the floor.

But it didn’t succeed. The white shadow fell back into the chair, lowered its head, and completely overlapped with the posture of the corpse.

Then it dispersed.

Looking at that action, the introducer should have been planning to sit back in his chair and rest for a while, accumulate some strength, and take some of the scattered animal carcasses on the ground to eat. Unfortunately, he obviously didn’t get what he wanted.

“I accelerated the speed. According to the traces, this is everything that happened before this gentleman died.”

“Death by starvation is a slow process.” Oliver hesitated for a moment, but still took the initiative to speak to the annoying superior demon.

“In the case of great physical exertion, death comes much faster. Believe me, I’ve tried.” Telaranea quickly flipped through the incomprehensible formulas. “These eyes were quickly absorbing his power, and he failed to realize this in time for some reason.”

“For how long?” Nemo asked.

“For how long what?”

“From the time this gentleman left the paper record to the time he turned his chair and turned his back to the window.”

“Three days,” Telaranea replied, very confidently.

He took out a quill pen casually and didn’t even bother to find a chair for himself. The demon bent down directly, padded the wooden frame, and quickly wrote down line after line of formulas on the parchment.

Nemo took in a breath and walked quickly to the armchair. He gently pressed the back of the chair with his hand, and the next moment, the black shadow condensed into an identical armchair, but was facing the window.

The two chairs were back-to-back, the size and shape were the same. The one formed by the black shadow was like cutting off a piece of the bright room, revealing an unpleasant emptiness.

Nemo sat down in the shadowy chair and looked up at the window in front of him…

The window wasn’t big, and it was open wide by Telaranea. The evening breeze with the smell of forest kept pouring inside the house, and the fishy smell of the mummified body behind it rushed straight to his nose. He couldn’t help but stop breathing and stared at the scene outside the window seriously.

Three days.

There was no need for Telaranea to deceive them with this kind of thing. This gentleman should have really sat quietly here for three days without sleep.

It was late at night, but the starry sky was bright. The forest near the wooden house wasn’t dense, and the night sky with irregular edges was exposed above the dark tree shadows outside the window. The branches and leaves rustled softly, and occasionally, shadows of insects would cross the sky. A peaceful and normal night scene.

What was this introducer looking at?

Through hundreds of marauding eyes, what exactly was he looking at through this tiny window?

“Nemo… Do you have any clues about who this ‘she‘ is?” Nemo’s slightly tranced thoughts were interrupted by Oliver’s voice. “You look a little off, like you thought of something.”

“What’s the matter?” Nemo shook his head hard and came back to his senses.

“The phonetic crystal. Now that we have determined the time period, I’ll try it with the previous records.” Oliver patted the powdered crystal in his hand. “Its activation array was encrypted. Incorrectly filling it would make the crystal self-destruct. Looking at that gentleman’s records, he doesn’t seem to care much. I wonder—”

Nemo glanced vigilantly at the Sage of the Abyss, who was still writing hard. He leaned over to Oliver and carefully sketched the name in the palm of Oliver’s hand.

[Hagen Ingram]

Oliver also glanced at Telaranea, holding back his doubts knowingly, and took the lead in trying. After blowing up a few crystals, the word “Hagen” finally helped them open the encrypted crystal.

Telaranea was immersed in calculations, and he didn’t bother to lift his head.

“Regarding the habits of abyssal nightmare leopards, we can draw a conclusion from their hibernation cycle…” The array of light spots rotated slowly above the crystal, and a slightly murmured human voice came from the muddy crystals.

A clear phonetic record that was well preserved.

“It worked,” Oliver whispered. “I’ll ask you about the ‘password’ when we get back.”

“Nn.” Nemo buried his head and selected the crystal.

Fortunately, having heard Flint’s voice when he was young from the necromancer Medes, it didn’t take too long for their screening.

Around four in the morning, the two finally found the crystal that recorded Flint’s voice. This time, Telaranea, who was buried in a pile of parchment, heard Oliver shout “This is it!”, causing him to raise his head.

“Let’s clarify the content of the transaction. Mr. Flint Lopez, there are two items in your transaction records… The way to build the blood cradle, and seven pounds of processed demon flesh.” This voice should belong to the old man.

“Yes.”

“The current transaction situation… Let me see, the blood cradle you placed in the coffin has successfully stabilized the baby’s physical condition, and the demon’s flesh has also been forged into your right arm.”

“Yes.”

“The blood cradle requires a large daily blood supply, and this part of the record may be kept in the Butcher Shop. You need to assure me that you are sober at this moment, and please swear that everything you say next is the truth and will not be mixed with a single lie.”

“I swear.” Oliver’s father sounded haggard and weak in the face of the Butcher Shop introducer.

“The knowledge you want to trade is the ‘discovery at the bottom of the Abyss’. If your knowledge is judged to be of insufficient value, I will abandon it and take back the blood cradle given to you by the Butcher Shop, as well as your right arm. After all, I need to provide valuable research results or information to those above on a regular basis. Please understand.” The old man’s voice was calm and even. “Of course, if your knowledge is judged to be valuable, I can give you a few more abyssal spells.”

“Okay.” Flint didn’t sound enthusiastic.

Nemo grasped Oliver’s wrist. He could feel his palms getting cold and full of sweat.

“I don’t think you are interested in my insights and adventures. Let me make a long story short. For various reasons, I was separated from my team at the bottom of the Abyss and wandered alone. When I thought I was going to die there, a wanderer saved me.”

“You mean those weird creatures at the bottom of the Abyss that cannot be classified?”

“I used to think so.” Flint chuckled a few times. “It must have the ability to mimic. Even if the field of vision was pitch black, I could feel its huge size just by listening to the sound, but what held me was a human hand, very similar to mine.”

“It sounds like mimicry.”

“It just pulled me along, talked to me, and sent me back to the team. Now that I think about it, we have been walking together for about five or six days. During that period, I was supported by the condensation spell and dry food, so I was fine.”

“You’re very lucky.”

“It saved my life, so I left it as my keepsake. I originally thought, If it’s summoned to the surface one day, it can come to me, and I can work hard to adapt it to the rules of the surface and even become friends with it.”

“What I need is Abyss-related knowledge and intelligence, not stories, Mr. Lopez.”

“I know. You told me this conversation is confidential, right?”

“It is only owned by the Butcher Shop, and we will not disclose the personal privacy of our guests. Let me emphasize it again, Mr. Lopez. I am only interested in Abyss-related knowledge and intelligence.”

“Okay, okay. Then the next thing, please be sure to keep it secret. When everyone was almost… all sacrificed, I successfully beheaded Ulysses.”

Flint’s voice began to tremble.

“Following the suggestion of the wanderer, I cut off the demon’s head. It let out a wailing sound, which sounded extremely painful. At that time, I didn’t think too much about it. Although I always… About the expedition, my companions died tragically in front of me. I…”

“Please calm down, Mr. Lopez.”

“Sorry, I lost control of my emotions. That’s what happened—I killed it with hatred. Even if we were the ones who went to the bottom of the Abyss and woke it up, I hoped from the bottom of my heart that it was really the bloodless and tearless horror monsters rumored, but the moment I successfully cut off the Demon King’s head, I saw it by the fire of my weapon.”

“What did you see?”

“Among those horribly twisted limbs, a human hand.”

“……”

“And I recognized what it was holding in that hand. It was the pendant that I kept as a keepsake. Why do you think this is? I can’t figure it out. If it wanted to live, why did it save me specifically? If it wanted to die, why… kill everyone?”

Nemo clenched his lower lip unconsciously, his limbs became numb from tension, but he could still perceive the trembling of Oliver’s wrist. With inexplicable fear, he increased his strength a bit and held tightly to his lover.

He didn’t know these details.

The memories he retrieved from Ulysses were more like observing everything from Ulysses’ perspective. He could see what was happening, but he didn’t know what the Demon King Ulysses—or himself—thought in his heart.

Of course, he would not know what happened after Ulysses died.

As far as the facts were concerned, Flint Lopez didn’t lie, but the growing despair in his voice sent shivers down Nemo’s spine.

“…Please continue, Mr. Lopez.”

“I didn’t understand it at the time. I stood there, carrying the head of the Demon King that was still dripping blood. Its body was melting and turning into a black liquid. I know that we should leave immediately at that time, looking for and taking away the bone jade that was about to appear. The miasma next to the corpse would become stronger.”

“But you didn’t leave immediately.” The old man guessed.

“I was looking at that hand, the hand that used to hold me.”

“What did you do?”

“I… at the end, I couldn’t help but touch it.”

“Then what?”

“Sporadic fragments got into my mind. It was just illogical, sporadic fragments, but it allowed me to perceive everything through the Demon King Ulysses in that moment. I shouldn’t have touched it; it was the last decision I regretted in my life. Sir, what I’m going to say next may sound crazy, but… I saw it.”

The voice stopped abruptly.

After that, there was only a blankness left.


The author has something to say:

Recycling the flag in Chapter 28√

——

Flint probably never thought that this conversation would be heard by the person in question years later.

And that his own son had chased after the person in question (……)


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