Stray Ch242

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

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


Chapter 242: Underground Sunrise

It was a wonderful feeling.

The consciousness seemed to be floating in the air, and many disordered memory fragments swirled around like a tornado. In contrast, there was a strange calmness in the center of the consciousness.

Ironically, his self should have disappeared quickly in the methodical sea of memory, like broken ice melted into boiling water, and it was because Flint Lopez took the Demon King’s head at Ulysses’ behest, directly causing the Demon King’s memory to remain chaotic, allowing him to barely maintain his rationality.

Nemo thought bitterly that this was just a simple return of memory. If this body was destroyed, the consciousness would return to its original body. Under the pressure of removing emotions, he wouldn’t even have the chance to struggle.

Nemo clung to his memories and struggled like a drowning man. He couldn’t step on the ground with his feet, and he threw his arms hopelessly, but he was able to occasionally poke out of the water in this boundless torture and get a mouthful of precious air.

The resistance continued.

Nemo roughly repelled the memories that kept surging in his mind, desperately denying them. These memories didn’t belong to him. Nemo kept thinking to himself that he was the Nemo Light from Roadside Town.

He had a short life and a beloved lover.

Just like a drowning man who couldn’t struggle for eternity under physical limitations, “Nemo Light” couldn’t resist like this forever. Before he was almost torn apart by anxiety and despair, he caught such a flicker of a shimmering clue.

It was like finding a weak point in an iron wall that was slowly moving in…

[Go to the surface?] Aurorae in his memory responded curiously.

[A theory, I remember mentioning it to you. I didn’t name it. The intelligent race on the surface calls it Woodruff’s Theorem. Once a two-way connection across space is established, it can only die out naturally in accordance with the law. The connection itself cannot be broken.]

[I don’t understand.]

[To put it simply, if there is no error in my calculation… You can separate a little flesh and attach your consciousness to it. Then, when the surface creatures summon demons, you can attach yourself to a subordinate or intermediate demon. Next, you need to use this flesh to reach a contract with the surface life so they can “fix” you. Your body is here while your flesh is at the other end. Such a state will be very stable.]

At that time, he continued very coldly.

[I tried it with my own flesh, but the subordinate demons were completely unable to withstand the power of my flesh. Next, I will continue to try and see if I can get different results by using intermediate demons. The Corewen Flat Snake is a good test subject. Answer me now, Aurorae. Are you going?]

[Why me? You have created a lot of wanderers without even thinking about it.]

[It’s safe to experiment like this.]

[It’s not a matter of safety. Why me?]

At that time, Nemo couldn’t understand the answer the other party was chasing, so he could only explain patiently.

[On the one hand, you have intelligence, and you can get more information.]

After receiving his calm thoughts, the young blind bug, who couldn’t move much, curled up its body and transmitted a hint of grievance and discontent.

[…On the other hand, you can experience things you have never been able to do before. For example, vision, the ability to freely move, and so on. The more information you can understand, the easier our communication will be.]

The traces of grievances and dissatisfaction disappeared suddenly.

[Okay.] The mood of the blind bug instantly lifted. [But… But I may not be back for a long time. You…]

[When you grow up, your body can instinctively eat miasma, and I will bring food regularly.]

[No, I mean, if I’m not here, it’s just you…]

[What’s the problem?]

[…Nothing, father.]

[I am not your father, but you may address me as you please.]

How many years have passed since then?

Aurorae came back, and came back quickly, perhaps too quickly for a superior demon.

The demon excitedly recounted everything he saw on the surface. The pleasant, irritating, endearing, detestable, and nostalgic.

The Demon King couldn’t understand much. He listened calmly beside the ever-larger lantern blind bug trying hard to extract useful information from it. In about a hundred years, when the other party shed its flesh for the fifth time and returned to the body at the bottom of the Abyss, Nemo objected.

[The experiment ended a long time ago, Aurorae.] Nemo said, quite sensibly. [At present, you frequently abandon your flesh to go to the surface then return to your body. Even if I could treat you, the loss of flesh injected with power will still make you weak. From the results, the information you gave me the last two times was quite repetitive… You can choose to stay on the surface or in the Abyss for a long time, and you don’t need to continue this meaningless behavior.]

[Are you worried about me?]

[This is not a “worry” but a reasonable suggestion.]

[I like to go back… If you really think this behavior is meaningless, I won’t tell you about it anymore. Now I’m going to the surface, father. Please send my flesh to the designated demon.]

……

[Father, don’t you hate the surface? In the last expedition, their methods were really…]

[Pain is something that doesn’t matter. It only helps me judge the degree of injury. Compared to pain, the weakness of the other party bores me. There haven’t been any new breakthroughs on the surface recently, and it’s disappointing to see the same few tactics repeatedly.]

[I understand.]

……

[Father, do you have any wishes?]

[Wishes? I have none. If I have to say it, I want to go to the surface, but so far, I haven’t found an effective way. The current expeditions are too frequent, and I don’t have much time to concentrate on thinking. I hope that the army sent from the surface will be stronger next time.]

[You mean, powerful surface creatures can make you sleep longer?]

[Theoretically, yes. The more powerful the surface creatures are, the higher the value of intelligence and knowledge they bring. I need more time to analyze before I can condense a new body.]

[I understand.]

……

[Father, I…]

[What’s the matter?]

[Nothing.]

……

The current Nemo could understand what Aurorae didn’t say.

Thousands of years had passed, and the lantern blind bug had gradually aged. Aurorae was moving towards the end of his life, and the unnecessary consumption of flesh had accelerated the process. Aurorae lived on the surface and could move freely and see everything. Then he personally destroyed his flesh on the surface, bringing his consciousness back to the Abyss to give information to “him” that he had collected on the surface.

The cycle kept repeating.

Again and again. Relayed the information then again and again. As the power of the blind bug waned, the interval between Aurorae’s round trip became longer, and at the same time, he became more silent.

Finally, one day, the demon he fed never came back.

The Demon King wasn’t surprised. In his opinion, even if Aurorae was gone forever the first time, it was fully understandable.

The bottom of the Abyss was dark and barren and wasn’t suitable for beings with emotions to live there for a long time.

With the combat and magic theories that Aurorae had learned from him, he wouldn’t have too many opponents on the surface. Aurorae could continue to live on with his surface flesh until the body at the bottom of the Abyss died.

According to normal logic, that demon should’ve done this a long time ago.

The Demon King still kept feeding Aurorae’s aging body regularly. Over the past few thousand years, this had almost become habitual. Occasionally, just occasionally, an idea of no value would pop up…

How is the lantern blind bug that I raised now?

Knowing that the other party would not provide any more information, why should he continue this feeding behavior?

No, he knew. The current Nemo knew very well.

Born alone in the void, the concepts of “family” and “companions” never existed in his life. Sensibility wasn’t conducive to his survival, so the erosion of “feelings” began a long time ago, and thus he couldn’t understand it. Feelings were not simply “yes” or “no”, they were only “produce” and “disappear”.

Yes, this was what he was once worried about. Nemo even wanted to laugh a little. If one must strictly abide by their instincts to survive, then thinking itself is meaningless, and he should have known this a long time ago.

Nemo didn’t hesitate for too long. He spread out his limbs in his consciousness, relaxed his spirit, and completely gave up resistance.

There was no denial, no panic.

These were his memories, and he now had a name. A human named him with blessings, hoping that he would live. Even if the fragments of memory that came up were filled with chaos, killing, and blood…

‘It wasn’t that he lost himself,’ Nemo thought coldly, ‘he just hadn’t changed since the very beginning.’ Now he could understand that he could twist that little vein of emotion out of the darkness.

And then dominate it.

The tornado of memories stood still.

First there were the memories related to Aurorae, then Ulysses, the previous generation, and the ones after that—the memories no longer collided with his sanity in a disordered manner. Under the suppression of reason, they returned to their position obediently, like leaves of a tree, resting on the thin branches of emotion.

‘It was nothing more than pain,’ Nemo thought to himself, letting the blood and the pain of countless “deaths” in his memory pass through his mind.

These were all his things, whether they were in the past or present. He wasn’t their enemy. He was their master. If he was afraid of himself, then nothing could begin.

The pain continued, but the fear stopped.

It was hard for Nemo to tell exactly how he felt at the moment. It felt refreshing, like a groggy mind that instantly cleared up. Joy and sorrow had become thin. He had seen the lonely dark void and also the ripples of flowers. He had seen the burning sun, and also the transitional color of human eyes.

A beautiful, emerald green.

The memories were completely sorted out. A small crack appeared in the heavy darkness, and as the emotions of the past and present converged, the crack became wider.

He won.

The “19th generation” Demon King had now truly awakened.

Even if this short-lived “self” would pass away after being executed by Ulysses. That was the next problem he needed to worry about. Now he could be regarded as having successfully taken the first step—not being overwhelmed by the huge memories and falling into madness.

Nemo moved his fingers and found that he had finally regained some control of his body.

Then he opened his eyes. Although in the dark underground, this behavior didn’t have any actual effect.

Next, he smelled blood.

“Aurorae,” Nemo spoke, moving away from the other party’s cold finger against his forehead. Then he sat up. “Long time to see.”

“Light.” The other party’s voice didn’t sound stable and was mixed with gasped breathing. “I have something to say. Please listen to me. As for after that, it doesn’t matter if you kill me.”

Nemo raised his hand in silence, and the healing spell climbed onto Aurorae’s broken body. Unfortunately, Aurorae’s aura was already too weak, and he could only delay his impending death. The current demon slayer was too weak that even the human flesh could no longer be collected for his own use.

Startled by Nemo Light’s treatment, Aurorae looked at the other person’s silver eyes that were gleaming in the darkness and frowned.

But he knew that he didn’t have much time left, and he didn’t want to spend too much time on Mr. Light’s motives. Aurorae took a deep breath and exhaled words with all his strength.

“If you can return to the surface, be sure to tell those people that this generation the Demon King is very dangerous. I think you should be able to feel the power of this ‘Ulysses’. If you want to go on an expedition, please be sure to do it after a hundred years…”

Even if he was about to die, he may have been able to buy a little more time.

“I don’t really care if you’re willing to be loyal to the Abyss, Light. There is only one thing… Just watching you, you care about that boy from Lopez from the bottom of your heart. Even for him…”

Nemo Light was silent.

“I saved you from Ulysses. When I die, you’d better hide here for a while and try to suppress your aura. Then escape to the surface. I can tell you the way…”

“I can’t leave.” Light finally opened his mouth. His tone was a bit eerily familiar.

Aurorae subconsciously frowned.

“I can’t leave now,” Light repeated again.

The demon slayer let out a long sigh. He withdrew the power of his arm and let it fall on the cold sand with a soft noise.

“…Then that’s it,” Aurorae said wearily. “At least I tried. Unfortunately, we’ll all die here… Light, if you want to pursue your grievances with the reconnaissance team, you can do it now.”

Nemo Light stretched out his hand, and there was a certain brilliance in that pale hand. Aurorae narrowed his orange-red eyes and looked calmly at it.

But it didn’t bring pain and death.

It just touched the top of his head, and the next second, the bottom of the dark Abyss suddenly lit up as bright as day.

Aurorae was in a trance.

The top-level illusion instantly lifted up. Just as the world had truly changed, the two of them were now on an ordinary street on the surface.

Aurorae— Or rather, Talbott Vance recognized this place. This was Noer, a border city where the Dawn Tavern was located and the street where the Mercenary Guild branch was.

The sun hadn’t risen yet, and there were still sparse morning stars in the sky. Pedestrians walked in groups of three to five, traversing the streets in the early hours of the morning. The crisp birdsong came from afar, the wooden wheels from vendors’ carts creaked on the stone road, and the air was mixed with cooking smoke and the peculiar smell of dust in the early morning.

He was supposed to be sitting with his back to the demon’s corpse, but instead he was on the side of the street, on the steps of a bakery that hadn’t opened yet. Even the dust on his fingers was unmistakably real. Nemo Light was half kneeling across from him; his right hand was still resting on top of his head, and his gaze looked solemn.

“…What are you doing?” Aurorae coughed. Things were too strange. Even Telaranea couldn’t make such a perfect illusion. “Light, take your hand away—”

“What did you want to tell me last time?”

“What last time?”

“The last time you left the Abyss and didn’t come back.” Nemo Light’s black hair was scattered on his cheek; his robe was in tatters, looking very wretched. The slightly cloudy early morning light reflected the delicate features that belonged to humans, which were no different from the ones in his memories.

But his temperament was subtly different. Even if they didn’t intersect much, he could detect that something was wrong.

There was a certain sense of oppression of something superior. Aurorae subconsciously shrank back, and then realized how terribly familiar this fear was.

“You…”

“I told you clearly that even if I can heal you, the loss of flesh injected with power will still make you weak. Even if it’s me now, I have no way to save you, Aurorae. You shouldn’t have come back for a long time.”

The pale young man sighed, let go of his aura completely, and then immediately retracted it.

“Now you should be able to recognize me. It’s just for an instant, since right now you can’t withstand too much magic pressure.”

“Father…”

Aurorae moved his lips. He raised his head slightly, looking at the scene on the surface in front of him. His eyes were sour, and something warm slid down from the corner.

How comical.

Together with Telaranea, they had deduced countless times that the underground “Ulysses” was the newly emerged Demon King, but the aura that Nemo Light was giving off at this moment wasn’t fake. A completely different one from before, full of wildness and dominance.

Memories could be copied, and feelings could be falsified, but Aurorae would never mistake the Demon King’s aura.

That’s right. Light’s memory loss not long ago turned out to be this. It seemed that Flint Lopez’s taking the Demon King’s head to the surface wasn’t necessarily out of a desire for glory.

Have you finally found a way to get to the surface, father?

And he didn’t know. Of course he didn’t know. Hundreds of years ago, before the last expedition took place, he abandoned the Demon King.

Just as his kind had abandoned him, without prior notice, decisively and resolutely they left him in the cold and lonely darkness.

In fact, just before ascending to the surface this time, Aurorae believed he would return when the time was right, as he always had done.

But he was too old.

After successfully landing on the surface this time, Aurorae began to waver. If he returned to the Abyss, did he still have the strength to leave there? The deathbed of a superior demon could last for up to a hundred years. He would lose his vision and ability to move, and he would slowly await his death in the darkness.

He began to fear. The brighter the sun, the more he feared the death in the dark.

He wasn’t a “demon slayer”. Aurorae trembled and clenched his fist. He was nothing more than a coward, a traitor. Perhaps the ever-cold Demon King wouldn’t care about his existence, but Aurorae couldn’t really use this as an excuse.

His father, who had no compassion, gave him such a warm name—after thousands of years of living together, he knew him very well. The Demon King did possess extremely faint emotions; a heart that was elusive but was present.

[Everyone doesn’t like being left behind.]

Having been abandoned himself, he should deeply understand this pain, and now he had done exactly the same thing—because of fear, he had left his loved one behind.

Aurorae couldn’t forgive himself.

He obviously wanted to see the Demon King again, instead of staying on the surface and doing something to make amends, so that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the guilt…

He did his best to teach Flint Lopez so that Lopez could grow up into the strongest person on the surface, and then naturally participated in the expedition. According to what his father once told him, wouldn’t this allow him to sleep longer and not be disturbed frequently?

He taught those fools who tried to turn the surface into scorched earth so that the forest remained green, and the river flowed as usual. If one day his father could come to the surface, he could preserve the beautiful scenery he had seen intact for his father… Does his father still remember his long-winded and unstructured descriptions?

But these were just his wishful atonement, self-imposed fantasies.

After all, all he needed was time to talk, but he no longer had the time to talk to the Demon King. Even if it couldn’t be understood, he should have been able to convey it to the other party solemnly…

However, he always thought that next time, the Demon King might be able to understand. Next time, next time, next time, until he was defeated by fear and completely lost the opportunity to speak out.

“…Father.” Aurorae grabbed Nemo’s wrist as tears finally gushed out.

It could be considered a miracle that such a cowardly person had a chance again.

“I’m not your father.” This time, Light showed a half-embarrassed and half-sad smile, “…but you may address me as you please.”


The author has something to say:

I recovered a lot of flags, and I am satisfied. _(:з”∠)_

Yes, Aurorae isn’t a villain! He is just… a small domestic animal (……

The demon slayer protected the surface, not because he loved the surface.


Kinky Thoughts:

Why are all the side characters’ stories so good and emotional. It always makes me tear up reading it. Poor Aurorae! You’re just a little bun that needs love!

We also know why the Demon King saved Bagelmaurus in the first place. Poor Bagelmaurus. I wonder how it will react when it finds out it was nothing more than an experiment attempted by the Demon King to reach the surface.


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