Stray Ch253

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

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


Chapter 253: Near Death

[There is a problem with your story, Lord Demon King.] After listening to the narration, Pandorater was confused as she floated around the Demon King.

“Hmm?”

[If I listened to my family and didn’t come over, would you really summon, uh, the huge monster you just mentioned to attack your lover?]

“……”

Nemo lowered his gaze, and there was still a smile at the corner of his mouth.

Although it was still the human appearance she knew, there was something different inside. Pandorater gathered herself more tightly. The gentleness of the Demon King didn’t disappear, but there was a bit of a colder, inorganic texture to it.

“Yes, this is our agreement,” he said slowly. “The world has not yet come to an end. We need to ensure this. Whether he kills me, or I hurt him, there’s no difference. I have my responsibility.”

[But you said that he would never let you down…]

“Yes, he will never let me down.”

Nemo stood up and stretched out his arm habitually.

“…That’s why I am willing to retreat to my final bottom line for him.”

He now knew what Oliver wanted to do.

“What an interesting new circuit. So when are you going to see me, Ollie? Cunning guy.”

A few days ago, near the capital of Garland, in the desert not far from Heilam City.

It was evening. The night was climbing along the largest desert in the world, and the sky hadn’t completely darkened, but the pale moon had already risen. The desert was glowing with a strange red color, and the sharp boulders standing in it were like rotten roots.

One person and one beast were facing off.

“I’m ready, you two can start at any time.” Adrian sighed without saying much.

Since he came back from death, the magic in his body had been like a flood that finally broke through the dam, uncontrollable. It took him a lot of time to fully control this power.

He never thought that the first time he used it was as a guard in a life-and-death battle.

Jesse Dylan had no intention of using his “true appearance”. Even if he couldn’t match the two in battle, Adrian believed that he at least had the power to ensure that the battle between the two would not spread to ordinary people.

The city’s wall-like shield of light lit up beside him, pushing outward layer by layer, and finally enclosing the rather vast desert. The power that was too strong expelled all conscious life, and even the most seasoned adventurers wouldn’t choose to spy under that power.

Inserting a precious giant sword borrowed from Ann for casting spells into the earth, Adrian looked in the direction of the center of the battlefield…

“Confirm again for the last time.”

Oliver was the first to speak.

“The Demon King has indeed woken up. The flesh of underground activities is either Ulysses or Nemo in human form.”

“This is our way of resisting risks. The external flesh will always be the first line of defense.” The behemoth affirmed the other party’s doubtful narrative. “Even if you directly attack my body, it will be ‘this beast’ that is injured right now.”

“You once said that the limit of your flesh on the surface is almost the same as Nemo. The relatively large Ulysses will have a much stronger bearing capacity than Nemo.”

“That’s right. What are you trying to say?” Jesse licked off the sand on his nose, sounding depressed.

“I need your help, Jesse Dylan.” In the gradually colder air, Oliver exhaled a white breath. “I need to do a test run.”

In fact, this chessboard wasn’t as hazy as he thought. If the Pillar of the World was as cautious and terrifying as before, the world would have been destroyed a long time ago.

There may be only two possibilities left at the moment.

First, the Pillar of the World would absorb Nemo’s intelligence, observe his reaction, and then evaluate the feasibility of using his feelings to get rid of him alone. Flying to the sun was the safest course of action, but in this way, it could avoid wasting the civilization that still had the value of observation and didn’t need to start from scratch again.

However, no one knew when the Pillar of the World would complete the evaluation. It may be next year or tomorrow.

Second, the Pillar of the World retained Nemo’s heart, so it wouldn’t attack.

As for whether the behemoth under his feet was willing to use something similar to feelings, consider Oliver Ramon’s “restraint” in his memory and regard it as a harmless factor. That’s something that his opponent had to decide on. If he didn’t make a move, he “won’t make a mistake”, however…

He couldn’t pray on that.

There was actually only one best choice, Oliver thought to himself.

“Dylan, no, Jesse. I will try to draw strength as lightly as possible, just like Nemo is still there.”

“As for the amount drawn, I will control it no more than the power of the surface flesh of you and Nemo. Within this limit, I will try to use magic to build my own magic circuit, summon dependents, and gain power within that limit.”

“What does this have to do with me? You’re not thinking… Aha, you’re really crazy.”

“Well, I will take action on both of you at the same time.”

“Yes, if you can do it. I won’t hold back since you’ll hurt me. That’s only fair.”

Oliver lowered his head and made a serious salute. “Thank you, Jesse. If your flesh reaches the limit, please be sure to remind me.”

“Why?”

“I must stop in moderation. That’s for ‘Ulysses’ to learn the information that ‘I believe Nemo is still there’, and the damage can be sustained—it’s tantamount to abandoning a piece of cheese and putting in a boobytrap. He won’t turn a blind eye to such a good opportunity for observation.”

The behemoth inhaled deeply, raised his chin, and motioned for Oliver to continue with his eyes.

“’Nemo’s different. My actions may cause his body to be exposed. When that time comes, he will definitely attack me to protect the surface. Before that, I need to give him hints with this limit.” Oliver sounded very sure of himself.

Jesse was silent for a while, took two steps closer, and lowered his head slightly.

“…But I must tell you, Ramon. If the Pillar of the World decides to fight back in advance, you can’t withstand the attacks of both of us at the same time. You’ll die.”

“I know.” Oliver rubbed the body of the Rest in Peace.

“This isn’t a joke.” Jesse wrinkled his nose and bared his teeth.

“I thought about it.”

Oliver smiled.

“The circuit spell is dominated by me. Assuming ‘Ulysses’ confirms that I am malicious, the spell cannot guarantee that it will kill me—it will seriously injure me, immediately abandon the possibility of booby-trapping me, and fly directly to the sun, right?”

“I warned you, yes.” Jesse’s tone was displeased.

Oliver stepped into the fine sand with both feet, and the gray mist began to fly into the sky, extending a complex line of spell formations.

“Then under your combined attack, my death will eliminate the worries of the Pillar of the World. If he can’t accept the softest draw, I won’t have a chance to be strong enough to kill him… For the surface, this is the best way to do it.”

Jesse stared at the person standing opposite in silence.

Oliver Ramon was using his own life as part of the plan. His tone was extremely calm, as cruel as another Pillar of the World.

“What if ‘Nemo’ decides to fight back?” Jesse didn’t intend to ignore this cruel possibility.

“I have also considered it. This is a real battle, not a game, I understand.”

With Oliver as the center, the formation began to extend in all directions. The gray mist twisted into lines too thin to see, coalesced with power, and began to gradually fill the space.

“I know he will be in pain, I know he will be confused. This is a one-sided attack, and it is the last thing I want to do in this world—to hurt him. Jesse, this isn’t the first time I’ve hurt him. I once personally sent Nemo to the Church of Repentance and saw him get impaled by a long sword.”

“I promised him that I would never really do such a thing. After that, I promised that if things reach an irreparable point, I will definitely kill the Demon King with my own hands.”

“Right now, I don’t think things are irreparable.”

Oliver’s expression was very calm.

“I have the confidence to control the precision of extraction, except for the moment that I die. If I overdo it for this reason… I’ll die before Nemo officially fights back.”

“What if he decides to attack in advance before he reaches the limit?”

“If that’s my ‘Nemo’, I believe in him.”

This was the last words of the leader of Tumbleweed before the battle, and what followed was a real fight.

Endless, sleepless attempts to control the power as naturally as a heartbeat. In response to Jesse’s stormy attacks, Oliver had a strange illusion—he was dancing on a stage full of knives and traps, and he had to ensure that the candle in his hand wouldn’t go out.

As the threads of the gray mist expanded, the magic circuit was slowly taking shape—powered by his survival instinct.

Once he started, he couldn’t stop, and he wouldn’t get any results if he gave up halfway. The birth of a circuit required strength, and his actions would certainly alarm the Pillar of the World.

He only had one chance. Oliver tightened every nerve and fought harder.

Since joining Tumbleweed, Jesse Dylan had become serious for the first time.

The sky was covered with overcast clouds, but no rain came. Thunder rolled in the gray clouds, rumbling so loudly that it shook one’s internal organs. Between the heaven and earth, countless lightning connected, and with just a touch, a piece of flesh could be torn off.

The white beast came and went freely in these deadly white light thorns while Oliver was struggling.

The gray mist still persistently dissipated around while more bloodshed spread faster.

“That’s it.” The hair on Jesse’s neck exploded slightly, and his huge claws stepped deeply into the gravel. “As long as you guarantee that the circuit that ‘belongs only to you’ is error-free, the path is clear. The plundering will follow instinctively, and the more you’re on the verge of death, the clearer and more powerful it will become.”

Oliver panted heavily and raised his still intact left arm. Countless gray mists condensed into ice needles and flew straight at Jesse. As he moved, the thin filaments of gray mist moved with unhurried, frightening precision.

He could still persist.

With the desert as the center, the filaments drill into the underground Abyss and expand to the surrounding surface. It first covered the city of Heilam, and then spread entirely to Garland.

It wasn’t enough.

The sun rose and set and brought the high temperature of the day and the coldness of the night. The battle continued without rest or pause.

The black armor was shattered in half, and the metal sheet crumbled on his chest, dripping with blood. Oliver didn’t care about it, as he escaped another attack by Jesse—thick bowl light spikes pierced from the ground and burst into several light thorns that almost turned him into mush.

His circuit spell still hadn’t been completed.

How many days has it been?

A wall of ice surged up behind him, accompanied by the gray mist, and hardened the countless light spikes. In the intense pain and exhaustion that could make one black out, Oliver continued to accept the attacks.

The three-dimensional array composed of gray mist continued firmly.

Jesse grinned; his long white hair stained with bright red. As the gray mist filaments expanded between heaven and earth, the footsteps of the behemoth became a little weaker.

“This should have been easy.” The blood stained the fangs of the behemoth red. “Will it be death, or will you successfully complete your own circuit before you die? But, Ramon, if it’s only to deal with ‘the power of flesh’ of Nemo and I, you’re overdoing it.”

“I didn’t take more than that, nor did I snatch it rudely. You should know very well.”

Under the action of the light thorns, Oliver’s right arm barely had any flesh left; his miserable white bone was directly exposed, but he stayed still, his voice appallingly calm.

“Your gray mist has covered Garland, Alban, and Willard, and it hasn’t stopped yet!”

Jesse let out a roar that belonged to a beast, and his blood-dripping claws stretched out sharp nails.

“I don’t know the state of the Abyss… At least this is the surface that belongs to me. Just drawing on these three countries is enough to obtain power equal to my flesh. What are you thinking?”

The hair of the beast exploded completely, and countless pale thunder rays radiated. “Now, if you are deceiving me—”

“If I told you, you would really think I was crazy.”

The gray mist wrapped around the bleeding arm and forced it to continue moving. The Rest in Peace was covered with blood and dust, but its owner had a smile on his face.

An ice shield suddenly stood up, blocking the pale flames and thunder.

“Not enough,” he said softly.

“Walden, Praedo, Hatfield. Half the world, Oliver Ramon. Your greed will kill you.”

Jesse’s voice began to grow hoarse, and the ear holes of his pointed ears began to bleed. Unlike Nemo, as the party that had been gifted, he was particularly sensitive to the fact that his control over the races wasn’t strong. It was true that Oliver Ramon didn’t take the power outside the agreement.

But the scale of this influence, if Ramon wanted to…

At this point, Jesse couldn’t think of a better way to finish the battle properly—after all, he was already attacking Oliver Ramon, and his opponent was now on the verge of death.

The siphoning was still gentle and unhurried. Compared with the figure wrapped in blood on the opposite side, this restraint made him shudder.

For the first time, Jesse felt fear.

As a result, his offensive became stronger, and the desert surrounded by the shield of light hardly had much sand left. The white light squeezed, burned, and swallowed.

In the middle of the battlefield, a sole human figure looked a little lonely.

“The circuit that belongs to me… It’s almost there.”

Oliver sighed. The ice shield around him began to collapse, but his voice was still steady.

Under the strong light, there was no haze in those emerald eyes.

The bloodied ice shield was erected again and again, even if in the next second it was swallowed by the white flames. Oliver stalled firmly and determinedly as faint power ran along the gray mist at a frightening scale.

Jesse could feel that the bones in his body were breaking. He found it difficult to even maintain his human transformed appearance. His throat was full of blood, and he looked in Oliver’s direction with complicated eyes.

His body was about to reach its limit, yet unfortunately…

Oliver Ramon was still a step late.

No matter what Ramon wanted to do, it seemed that the plan had not succeeded, and just as they had agreed in advance, he offered this piece of flesh as a bet while the other party offered his life as collateral.

It was so close. Truly a pity.

“I warned you,” Jesse muttered, his voice a little sad.

“…I clearly warned you that doing nothing was the best choice.”

Oliver Ramon showed his defeat before the circuit was completed. Although he had a soft spot for this human… A deal was a deal.

An extraordinarily thick light spike was the first to break through and pass through the ice shield, piercing through Oliver Ramon’s chest. This was followed by a second and a third.

The human seemed stunned, and slowly fell down, and all the ice shields shattered in an instant.

The beast let out a low whimper and staggered forward, waiting for the smoke to disperse.

Oliver Ramon lay quietly on the sand. His whole body was in tatters. If he were an ordinary human, he would have been a corpse long ago. There was no heartbeat, no breathing, only blood seeping uncontrollably into the dirt.

Unlike Adrian, Oliver was no longer in his dominion. Even if it was him, he could no longer do anything.

Coupled with the variables of the Pillar of the World, Jesse could no longer calculate anyone’s fate, but he could still speculate based on experience and get very reliable results. He had expected this possibility, but he thought…

Jesse arched his shoulders with his nose.

His body was collapsing, and he really couldn’t maintain his beast shape. The same seriously injured figure appeared—Jesse Dylan, transformed himself wearing a shabby robe, and fell to his knees, coughing up a large mouthful of dirty blood. His long blond hair was covered with dust.

At the last moment, Ramon lost control for an instant. Like he had said, he died due to losing control.

While his body should have collapsed with it, fortunately, his body was on the surface, and timely replenishment allowed Jesse to maintain the integrity of this piece of flesh.

Wait, something’s wrong.

As far as he could see, Oliver Ramon was indeed dead, but that gentle life didn’t end with his death. Although it became weaker, the siphoning continued.

Jesse frowned.

After confirming that Oliver was no longer conscious, he directly connected the flesh to the body and quickly restored the body’s physical strength. The siphoning couldn’t hurt him, and now that the spell had lost its master, even if the Pillar of the World wanted to fight back, it would find that this was faster than itself.

As if in response to his conjecture, the Pillar of the World was still curled up quietly without any movement.

What’s going on?

The shield of light surrounding the desert dissipated. Jesse was wrapped in a white cloak that was followed by a cleansing spell. Jesse turned his face—Adrian Cross got down on one knee and was looking at Oliver Ramon, who undoubtedly looked like a corpse.

“I’m sorry,” Jesse said stiffly.

“No.” The knight commander stretched out his hand to cover Oliver’s emerald eyes. “I think Mr. Ramon chose you instead of me for a reason.”

“I would’ve hesitated and faltered, while you’ll abide by the agreement and won’t stop because of his misery.”

Adrian paused, but there was no sadness in his voice.

“His circuit is complete, under your final blow.”

“But he—”

“I heard the summons. It makes sense that you and Mr. Light, as beings of the same level, wouldn’t hear it. Oliver Ramon is still alive. Although a human in this condition is bound to die…”

“But I think he is no longer considered a human being now.”


The author has something to say:

Yesterday, a little cutie proposed why it was impossible to conclude that Nemo was still there through “Ollie’s hand was drawn, but the surface was not attacked”. Why should the Pillar of the World consider “pretending that Nemo is still there”.

First of all, thank you to this little cutie for taking it so seriously! I’m actually super happy, rubbing my hands.

Inspired by the comment area, I decided… to use a description (…) that doesn’t appear in the Western fantasy as a metaphor.

——————————

The Pillar of the World, who is very rich, is a conscientious social animal.

Then one day, he found a small, painful swelling in his stomach.

Situation 1: [The Pillar of the World without Nemo’s memory and no feelings]

Lack of understanding of this tumor, it’s impossible to judge whether it is benign or malignant.

Pillar of the World: Fuck it, I’m taking time off to cut it out! Although it will cost a lot of money and delay my work, my life is important.

Situation 2: [With Nemo’s memory, the Pillar of the World without feelings]

With the latest test results of this tumor, it was found that although it still exists and continues to absorb its own nutrients, it is likely to be a benign type that can be solved by taking some medicine (booby-traps).

Pillar of the World: I don’t know if it will become cancerous, so take some medicine first. If the medicine doesn’t work, I will ask for leave to cut it off. Unnecessary losses still have to be considered.

——————————————————

Ollie, I’m sorry! (In a broken voice)

But if the Pillar of the World does dispel Nemo’s feelings, the logic for Ollie is indeed similar to this. So just because the Pillar of the World didn’t do it immediately, it doesn’t mean that Nemo’s will is still there.

Personally, I think it is a decision to maximize the benefit _(:з”∠)_

Jesse’s proposal, translated, is actually: Do you think he knows that you may be harmless? If you don’t want to kill yourself, then don’t become stronger, don’t absorb nutrients, and don’t make him uncomfortable. Maybe he will continue to be a social animal and decide not to operate.

Ollie, I’m sorry!!! (In a broken voice again)


Kinky Thoughts:

Wow. Very nice of the author to provide a metaphor to help clear things up. I know it could be confusing. I was quite confused too reading these past few chapters, but here’s the gist of what they are doing:

With Nemo stuck in the Abyss and Ollie on the surface, they have no way to determine whether or not the Nemo in the Abyss is still alive or not. Thus, to communicate with Nemo, they plan to use Ulysses’ skull that was brought to the surface as a tether. However, they don’t know if Nemo is dead, is Ulysses, or was replaced by the Pillar of the World as a fake Nemo (boobytrap) to basically placate Oliver and make him stop powering up.

Telaranea proposes a plan: Use the skull to summon Nemo’s or Ulysses’ (they don’t know what Demon King is down there) consciousness and trap it in a container (whether it be human or otherwise). This way, the consciousness of the Pillar of the World won’t return back to its body, and they can use this time to kill the Pillar of the World without having it struggle (which could potentially destroy the surface like what happened to the other Pillar of the World Jesse encountered). Whether or not the consciousness that is summoned is Nemo or a different Demon King or Ulysses… well, that’s up to luck.

Ollie rejects this idea and instead comes up with a new plan (though IDK what the end goal is yet as of this chapter). His plan so far is basically to complete a new circuit and become a “God” like Nemo and Jesse. He asks Jesse for his help because, not knowing who is currently under the Abyss, he doesn’t want to kill Nemo, and since Nemo’s and Jesse’s powers are similar in capacity, he can gauge how much power he can siphon from them before it reaches Nemo’s limits.

Likewise, Nemo in the Abyss doesn’t know what Ollie is planning. Thus, this is why it’s called a blind chess game. Neither knows the other situation, so they can only go into this blindly.

Ollie starts siphoning off the power slowly, which Nemo thinks isn’t right because it will alert the Pillar of the World. He is the first defense and alert mechanism for it, so he is the first to endure the pain brought from it. Nemo considers whether or not he should counterattack Ollie’s attempt and basically harm or kill Ollie before he himself is killed and his consciousness returns to the Pillar of the World. This is also to protect the surface because if Ollie fails, the Pillar of the World becomes alerted and could potentially wipe out the entire surface to eliminate Ollie.

Ollie on the other hand, is doing this purposefully because he not only doesn’t want to kill the potential Nemo, who is still alive, but in this way, if it is Ulysses down there, it would counterattack and kill him, thus eliminating the threat to the Pillar of the World and it will continue to monitor civilization with Oliver wiped out.

The intrinsic part of all this is that this whole entire battle is based on their love and trust for each other. Nemo trusts in Ollie to not counterattack and believe that he knows what he’s doing, while Oliver trusts that Nemo is still down there. It’s quite beautiful once you fully understand the scope of it, but man was it fucking confusing as I was translating it.


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