Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 278: Respective Time
Children’s laughter occasionally came from the courtyard, and the sweet smell of cookies floated over. From this perspective, you could see the lush citrus trees in the yard.
Ann didn’t feel comfortable knocking mud off the tips of her boots.
“I said, you don’t need to follow.” Not far from the courtyard wall, the new queen of Alban’s face wasn’t very good-looking. She was still wearing the old leather armor, and after knocking the mud off her boots, she started to dust it off again.
“This is your first private holiday after you ascended to the throne. As your knight, I must ensure your safety.” Gallagher Salter grimaced.
“…You also know that it is a ‘private’ holiday. I say, Mr. Mad Dog, I’ll give you ten gold coins. Can you go to any tavern and just buy yourself a drink?” Ann tugged at her short hair.
“This is an order.”
“For your safety and Alban’s future, I am willing to disobey orders. If you are not satisfied, you can stab me to death with your spear.”
“…” Ann clenched her teeth and wanted to grind them on someone very much at the moment. “Yes, because I’m not a thirty-four years old, but a thirty-four-month-old. Without Mommy watching, if I walk a dozen steps, I will be abducted by people passing by if you don’t pay attention—is that what you mean?”
Gallagher rolled his eyes but remained tactfully silent.
“Salter!” She was so angsty that she wanted to vomit, and this nagging knight refused to leave. Ann touched her hunting spear behind her and, for a few seconds, was moved by Gallagher’s proposal.
“You should not come to such a place. If you want to meet the mistress of the house, I can arrange the best restaurant nearby for you.” An extraordinarily piercing child’s scream penetrated the courtyard wall, and Gallagher’s face paled a few shades. “I’ve asked around, and this place is full of stray children. Most of them are prostitutes. Girls, criminals, and the abandoned offspring of beggars. Your identity …”
“Oh, don’t worry, I grew up with them. At least we have a lot in common—everyone doesn’t have much hope for their biological parents.” Ann’s tone became cold. “Listen, Salter. If you say something you shouldn’t say later, I don’t mind stringing you on the spear and dragging you back.”
Having said that, Ann still walked around anxiously near the yard without taking a step forward, as if she was blocked by an invisible barrier.
Gallagher raised his brows and coughed slightly.
While the new queen of Alban was spinning in circles, the simple wooden door in the backyard of the small courtyard was pushed open. Ann straightened her back in an instant, locked Gallagher’s neck with her arms, and yanked him violently behind a bush.
Gallagher was chained to his neck, and there was a little struggle in his voice: “…I thought you were here to visit an old acquaintance.”
“I am.” Ann nervously looked out through the bushes.
The last time they met was almost twenty years ago. The nun, who was in her thirties at the time, now most of her hair was white, and her face had a lot of obvious wrinkles like knife marks. Fortunately, she didn’t seem to gain or lose a lot of weight, as she looked very healthy. Ann bit her lip, subconsciously held her breath, cast her gaze to the ground, and began to count the dead leaf stems in the soil.
“Your Majesty,” Gallagher called in a low voice.
“Oh, uh, Ms. Savage.”
“Why are you…?” Ann was about to turn her head when a hand touched her head. She finally understood why Gallagher kept calling her, but it was too late.
Ann’s entire body shuddered, but she still didn’t dare raise her eyes. The heat of that hand was distant yet familiar. Before she recovered, the tip of her nose and eyes were already full of sourness.
“Ann? Is it Ann?” The nun’s voice hadn’t changed, and the smile on her round face still carried a bit of silliness.
Ann gritted her teeth and stood up slowly.
For as long as she could remember, the nun’s face had always required her to tilt her head up to get a good look. This time, the long-grown adult herself had to lower her head to see the face that was piled with smiles.
“You have grown so big.” The nun enthusiastically took Ann’s hands. The calloused hand wiped Ann’s skin, and the choked pain climbed into her throat.
Ann opened her mouth, but she couldn’t say a word of what she had prepared.
She opened her arms and hugged the tall and sturdy woman in front of her in her memory, but now she seemed extremely ordinary. Ann lowered her head and smelled the familiar scent of butter on the other person’s shoulder. The nun smiled cheerfully and patted her on the back.
“I…” she said with difficulty. “Sister, I…”
“What’s the matter, child?”
The nun patted her on the back again. After a few seconds, she didn’t wait for Ann’s answer but started talking on her own.
“You are finally back, Ann. I used a little of the money you sent back, and the rest is for you to keep. Look at you. You don’t have a safe job and you keep doing those dangerous tasks every day. In case something happens, and you can no longer do business, you can at least use that money.”
“Recently, the world hasn’t been safe. Just do the tasks. Don’t get involved in the war. Okay?”
“I heard some things about your Black Chapter test. Everyone… Alas, I’ve watched you all grow up in my eyes, so I can’t say that I don’t feel distressed. I thought at the time that if you came back crying, I really couldn’t help but scold you… Then coax you.”
The nun stopped patting her back.
“The main responsibility for this matter lies with me. You were still a child, and I was an elder at that time. I should’ve watched over you and told you—silly girl, why are you crying?”
Gallagher, who was half a step away, didn’t dare to move, trying to reduce his sense of existence.
He had never seen Ann cry like this.
The crazy queen could pull out a broken sword inserted into her body while talking and laughing, and after cutting down her own brother with the same blood with her hands, her eyes were only slightly red, and she quickly regained her composure.
The lawless Ann Savage never seemed to expose her weaknesses.
Now, she was holding an old woman in a faded nun’s uniform, her shoulders twitching, crying silently. From his perspective, he could see Ann’s side—tears were rolling down the cheeks of the new queen, and she even bit her lower lip so that blood broke.
Gallagher took two awkward steps back, half sad and half worried—he had naturally investigated the queen’s past and had a little understanding of what the two were talking about. Needless to say, it was indeed sad to lose your companions who you grew up with on that test.
However, in addition to regret and sadness, the “Wasteland Mad Dog” didn’t succeed in giving birth to feelings similar to pity, and he faintly began to worry that he would be killed by the angry queen afterwards.
Ann suppressed her crying at first, but then simply allowed herself to choke and cry, holding the nun and letting it all out until she couldn’t breathe.
It took a full ten minutes before she could collect her words.
“I’m sorry,” she choked and whispered. “I took them away. I was too arrogant—”
“Okay, let’s go home and sit down first, then sit down and talk about it. Don’t stand here, it’s a bit cold and it’s windy here.”
Ann wiped away tears with her sleeves, sniffled, and nodded vigorously.
The nun patted her on the shoulder, and then turned her attention to Gallagher without warning. Her gaze stayed on the marshal’s exquisite outfit for a few seconds.
“Oh.” The nun’s voice was a little flustered. “My lord, how embarrassing. I was preoccupied with my child…”
Hearing the name “my child”, Gallagher’s eyebrows jumped.
“Uh,” he uttered senselessly. “I… Don’t mind me.”
“How can that be! Are you her employer? Ann, have you found someone to work under the nobles? Like I said earlier, it’s better not to be a Black Chapter, and now I can rest assured.”
“No, she…” Gallagher was a bit stuck. This somewhat dull-looking woman obviously didn’t know Ann’s identity.
“Lord Salter is my employer.” Ann sniffled hard and glared her flushed eyes at Gallagher, squeezing the words from between her teeth. “Don’t worry, sister. He’s long-winded, but…Well, he’s not bad.”
“How can you say that in front of him. Apologize!”
“It’s okay, our relationship is good. Really, don’t worry, he won’t do anything much.” Hearing the familiar tone of rebuke, Ann burst into laughter.
“……Oh.” The nun patted her chest quickly. “Then, then I won’t say anything. Ann, come here!”
She turned her back, motioned for Ann to get closer, and lowered her voice. “He’s willing to accompany you. Are you two… I think that one is not young anymore, Ann. You shouldn’t do things like destroy other people’s families, yes? Nobles are not very reliable. I still hope you can find someone with whom you can spend a lifetime together.”
Gallagher, who heard it clearly, coughed unnaturally. ‘He’s dead,’ he thought sadly. He was so distracted that he even forgot to take off the tiny branches on his clothes.
Ann rubbed her nose and scratched her head embarrassedly. “He’s not married, and we’re not in that kind of…”
The nun curled her lips. “I’m old enough to see clearly! He had that look in his eyes that says he can’t wait to tie you up with a rope.”
…Technically, it’s true. Gallagher must really want to tie her to the office of the king.
Ann rubbed her face fiercely and finally moved her gaze to Gallagher. They exchanged despair with different meanings in each other’s eyes.
“Oh, I’ve been talking here for so long. Come on, come inside and have a cup of tea. This great… Ahem, sir, come along too.”
“And do not quickly follow.” Ann mouthed to her knight.
“If you want to execute me, it’s best not to do it for such a terrible reason.” Gallagher mouthed back with a sullen face.
“I’ll try my best,” Ann breathed a sigh of relief and replied wordlessly. “…It depends on your performance.”
The sun was about to go down, and under the glow, the red eyes on her face were not as conspicuous as they had been at first.
The warm glow also illuminated the entrance to the Abyss.
Groups of strangely shaped stones have stood here for a long time. Unknown of where these stones had come from, the eyes of the living were embedded at the top, which was quite creepy. Whether it was mercenaries or local residents, few people were willing to approach this area.
A figure wearing a monk’s uniform appeared near the group of stones and stopped in front of one of them.
“You actually came.” Telaranea took the spread-out book off his face.
“I never thought I would see you here.” Adrian Cross responded politely.
“I’m used to waiting here, and I can’t change it for a while.” The red-haired young man stood up and patted the grass leaves and dust on his pants. “It’s very quiet here, very suitable for thinking alone.”
“Maybe not that quiet.” Adrian looked at the weird stones and shook his head gently.
“Your reaction… Well, spiritual communication is difficult to learn. It is the power of the flesh of the gods.” The Sage of the Abyss touched his chin and glanced at the strange stone not far behind him.
“Nn.” Adrian didn’t deny it.
Hearing the word “flesh of the gods”, those screams became louder in his ears.
Spiritual communication must be through mutual consent. In other words, these fanatics wanted him to hear them scream.
Adrian’s expression didn’t change. After staring calmly at the sky dyed red by the morning sun above his head for a while, he stretched out a hand, slowly pressed down on the stone closest to him, and then closed his eyes.
“Now I can hear your thoughts.” He asked the stone that was once a human, “…Do you want it to end?”
Perhaps he got an answer. A bright light flashed, and the stone turned into cold and fine dust, no longer exuding the breath of life. Adrian Cross performed a ritual, waved his hand, and put them into a prepared stone box.
Then he walked to the next stone.
After the last light of the sun had faded, he finally made his way around the group of strange stones. The number of stones was fully two-thirds less. The remaining one-third still stood in place, which should indicate they rejected it.
Telaranea snorted quite unexpectedly.
“I thought you decided to forget about it.” The Sage of the Abyss stretched. “Or—let me think about it—kindly set them free?”
“I just learned to communicate with my mind not long ago. If I had decided without authorization that all of these people ‘wanted to die’… Then I might not be much different from them.”
Adrian quietly put away the stone box and raised his eyes.
“…As for ‘letting them go’, the rest of them also asked for it.”
Unlike the silence that Telaranea heard, the rejected fanatics were cursing and screaming in despair—those harsh sounds kept hitting his ears.
“Everything has a cause and effect.”
Adrian sighed and wrapped the stone box.
“I am indeed alive, but I have died. It is not your credit that I can stand here alive now—as a former colleague, I will send the bones of these people back to the central church. As the party who was killed, I have no obligation to ‘forgive’ you. That’s all.”
“…Just as I don’t think that those I’ve killed with my own hands need to ‘forgive’ me,” he added calmly.
“How cold.” Telaranea shrugged. He could hear the sound of the wind blowing over the strange stone.
“I wanted to live in the first place.” Adrian didn’t explain more. He picked up the stone box and stepped in the direction of Hatfield.
“Well.” Telaranea patted the stone closest to him casually. “What about next time? When do you plan to come back?”
“Since everyone has made their choice, I will not come back.”
The former knight commander shook his head gently.
“Farewell forever, everyone.”
The author has something to say:
I explained a little bit about Ann and Adrian~
Although as an author, I could have chosen not to deal with this issue (?) But I don’t think the Knight Commander will choose not to face the problem of those fanatics.
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One thought on “Stray Ch278”
i really love all the care the author gives her (?) characters, u can feel the details and the characterization very vividly.