Stray Ch13

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky ||

Chapter 13: Principles

Nemo froze, as if he had been licked by a huge, barbed tongue. He could clearly hear the worms’ continuous angry hissing. Disgusting green mucus poured over from behind, reaching the soles of his shoes. This time, Oliver slashed it hard and had obviously angered it.

Nemo didn’t have the courage to look back at all.

At this time, the difference between a civilian and a soldier was starkly revealed. Ann didn’t pause at all as she kept carrying the man who was taller and bigger than her, which was an undoubtedly extremely difficult task. She adjusted her posture, lowered her center of gravity, and instantly prepared to retreat.

“Follow me.” She charged forward hurriedly. Oliver struggled a few times, as if he wanted to jump off, causing Ann to smack him hard on the back of his head. “This thing is very stupid. It will take the lead in attacking larger targets. As long as it runs to a crowded place, I can escape.”

“…But it’ll attack other people.” Nemo put down his just raised foot that had stepped into mucus, causing him to involuntarily shiver.

“I don’t want to have a moral debate with you now. Those people are dead. If you have an idea, just say it. If you don’t, then listen to my instructions.” Ann’s amber eyes were fixed on the worm that was still roaring and struggling. “You can choose to die senselessly, like that fool just now.”

Run away. His desire for survival whispered into his ears. Run away. It’s not wrong to want to live. Ann’s thinking wasn’t wrong. They had no other choice. Even if those people were still alive, they would eventually be eaten by the worm. Even if they survived, the test was far from over.

He didn’t know anything. Ann was more experienced and determined than he was. Yes, he didn’t know anything…

He closed his eyes in pain, as his instinct and conscience were about to tear his soul apart. His lungs were still aching, and his heart was beating vigorously. Every inch of his body was fiercely refusing to die while death was roaring behind him, trying to turn him into a rotten corpse.

“No,” he said with difficulty.

Ann looked at him blankly.

“No.” As if he was trying to convince himself, he raised his voice and repeated, no longer suppressing the trembling in his voice.

“I see,” Ann said, before she turned around and left quickly, but she couldn’t move far. While Oliver was knocked out, he wasn’t completely unconscious. He gathered some strength and broke free from her. He was exhausted and knelt down when he fell to the ground.

“We disagree.” Oliver staggered to his feet. “Miss Savage, you go. If I can survive, at least I’ll find…” Nemo seemed to know what he was going to say, glared at him, causing Oliver to quickly change his words. “…We’ll find you and fulfill the agreement.”

Ann glanced at the hilt of the sword that had happened to fall at her feet and bit her lip. Her expression was a little pale.

“Thank you for your care these days.” Oliver lowered his head.

The Seymour Worm finally shook off its ice casing, shattering it with its body. Ann didn’t respond or move. She just stood and stared at them coldly.

“Oh?” The gray parrot fluttered its wing and said calmly, “Seymour Worms taste great! I used to run to the shallows to eat a few. Since you have taken my power, you can’t be afraid of my snacks—”

“What do I need to do?” Without mocking or taunting, Nemo asked the question very seriously. He clenched the metal staff tightly and didn’t even realize that he had slightly deformed it.

“Just be hostile to it!” the gray parrot said. “I’m really surprised. Before, you didn’t have the slightest sense of confrontation in your barren head.”

Even if the worm laid flat and let them attack it, Nemo didn’t think he could cause any substantial damage. He took a deep breath, raised his staff at the worm, and thought how crazy he was. The worm ran over, as if it hadn’t even seen him.

A hand pressed on his back.

“What I’m going to say may be presumptuous,” Oliver whispered. “I trust you, Nemo. It’s not some hot-blooded pretty talk. Just this morning, the oppression you gave me was much stronger than this thing.”

Nemo panted in a panic, suddenly realizing that this was the first time Oliver had called his name. He squeezed out a little sobriety from the crazy fragments of his mind.

If Bagelmaurus’ power could return after his death, there would be no need for the gray parrot to protect him from Ann. In other words, the parrot wouldn’t lie to him and let him die in vain. It now looked like an old god and its words seemed to ring true that this thing wasn’t something to be afraid of. Yes, he must be capable of defeating it, as long as he—

Unfortunately, his eyes hurt when he stared at it. The Seymour Worm was still roaring forward and was about to collide with them. The front of his staff was close enough to touch its skin, and its teeth almost pierced his jaw.

Please, just disappear.

Nemo gritted his teeth, but kept his eyes open and was ready to pay for his foolish persistence.

But neither the cold sucking sensation nor the pain of teeth piercing his skin appeared. The worm stopped and even closed its round mouth. Several pale orbs appeared on its black skin, and its crossed-shaped pupils opened, staring straight at the prey that was too small for it.

Nemo tried to accumulate momentum by staring at it at first, but he soon found that there were too many eyes on this thing, and he didn’t know which one to look at. The Seymour Worm just kept staring at him and did nothing else. After the tension dissipated, Nemo even tried to take two steps back, and the cross-shaped pupils followed his movements.

One minute.

It stared at him.

Five minutes.

It stared at him seriously, causing Nemo to feel a bit awkward.

“I said…” As soon as he opened his mouth, the Seymour Worm roared. Nemo quickly closed his mouth, but it was still roaring intermittently with a much sharper cry.

Nemo turned around tentatively for a few seconds. The worm seemed to be stuck to the ground, as there was no sound of its body twisting. The red silk cage disappeared when the worm was frozen, and the people in the distance had already ran away. Nemo rubbed his chin and announced with some joy, “…I think we can run away now!”

He even turned around and forcibly gave Oliver, who was completely stunned, a high-five.

Ann opened her mouth and said nothing. She still didn’t show any emotions, but silently pointed them in a direction. After the three of them ran for a while, Nemo turned around to confirm. The Seymour Worm was still motionless, as if it was thinking about some difficult life problem. There was no doubt that he had succeeded.

“What’s going on?!” Thorne almost put his face into the light screen. “What did the black-haired kid do—”

Fenrir came out of nowhere and stared at the worm on the screen. “It noticed something. What are the origins of that young man?”

“Nemo Light.” Thorne snapped his fingers and a wanted warrant appeared in his hand. “He’s not a vagrant… Let’s see. Orphan. Used to work in the library at Roadside Town of Alban. He was charged with using demons to attack the village and murdered Piper Ramon together with Oliver Ramon. Wait, Savage picked two freshly baked wanted criminals?”

“Is he a demon worshipper? Where’s his demon?”

“It seems to be this gray parrot.” Throne pulled another light screen closer. “This is the first time I have seen this kind of breed. Logically speaking, the closer the appearance is to a normal animal, the lower its strength should be. Being able to suppress the Seymour Worm, it can’t be an ordinary demon. I say Fenrir, could it be…”

“No. Light doesn’t look like he has any deformations. I have seen a demon warlock fight against a Seymour Worm. After its opponent released their hostility, it ran away. This one didn’t escape. That bird is probably a type of intermediate demon.”

“I haven’t seen a demon warlock before.” Thorne muttered in a low voice, sounding a bit sad.

“Believe me, you don’t want to see one.” Fenrir narrowed his eyes and looked at the black-haired young man who was busy running away on the light screen. “In every sense, they’re all pure lunatics.”

Suddenly, there was a rustling sound under the tree, causing Fenrir to glance down. The giant snake that had been trying to attack them had finally given up. It slithered down the tree in frustration and quickly confronted a passing short-legged rabbit.

It raised its upper body and hissed, frightening the rabbit, causing it to tremble on the spot while it made soft wailing sounds.

That worm was startled. No, it shouldn’t be possible. Fenrir shook his head abruptly, as if to throw that absurd thought out of his mind.

“That Ramon isn’t bad either.” Thorne was still talking. “He can still stand after releasing so much power. If it weren’t for his sword breaking—”

“Thorne. Have the bugs go over and inspect his sword,” Fenrir said suddenly.

It was difficult since there was ice debris that was mixed with dust and mucus that was ejected by the worm. It was hard to find the metal fragments. It was like they were looking for a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, they were lucky. The hilt of the sword wasn’t submerged by the green mucus, allowing the bugs to send back a clear image.

“…Looking at the fracture, the sword’s body was probably turned into powder,” Thorne said. “What a shame. Had it been a better-quality sword, maybe it could have been more useful.”

“No.” Fenrir frowned. “You’re not a swordsman, Thorne, so you don’t understand. The destruction of the sword by the power itself is completely different from its inability to withstand the power.”

“What do you mean?”

“The former is more common. If the move is destructive, the sword can be easily damaged. The power is first stimulated, and then the sword’s body is destroyed from the outside… This is usually the case.”

“Isn’t that the case here?”

The handle of the sword was stained with some metal dust, which glowed beautifully in the sun. Fenrir retreated from the light screen. His expression became more cautious and serious. Thorne knew very well that once their leader showed this expression, something bad would happen.

“Ramon’s situation is the other kind. The swordsman’s strength was so great that the material collapsed from the inside because it couldn’t bear it. The move that he made only represented the limit of the material itself could withstand. Oliver Ramon isn’t weak because he swallowed back a part of his power that he had not successfully exerted. Do you know what this means?”

Thorne spread his hands and shrugged. He wasn’t a warrior, so it was difficult for him to understand such a complex explanation.

Fenrir sighed, reliving a long-lost feeling. He was past the age where he would be shaken by the excellence of others, but the fact that he had to say it made him feel a subtle sense of frustration.

“Putting aside his combat abilities and only considering in terms of strength—as long as Oliver Ramon’s sword was not made of papier-mâché, then his power exceeds mine.”

“I know Ann Savage’s style. She purposefully looked for these two young wanted criminals to cooperate. They haven’t had time to be wooed by other Black Chapters, so they don’t have any strange ambitions. The two of them are a bit powerful themselves, and they don’t look like the aggressive types. If I wanted to act alone, I would definitely form a Black Chapter team of this type.”

“A bit of strength… Ha. I think she should have discovered it by now. This time, she picked up two monsters.”

Kinky Thoughts:

Some clarity. In the original, the author uses demon (恶魔) to describe basically all monsters from the Abyss (which is the demonic realm of this world where monsters reside). I use demons and monsters interchangeably to make a distinction in my translations, as demons are closely related to things of demonic nature or higher ranking (like Bagelmaurus), while monsters are more general (like the deadwood jellyfish and the Seymour Worm). But just know that whatever term is used, it’s referring to a monster from the Abyss, unless otherwise stated.

On the same note, black badge/seal (黑章) is also used to describe the organization they are trying to join, but I’ve made distinctions with it. When it’s translated as badge, it refers to the badge that you get for passing the test, while the Black Chapter is the organization itself of all people who have black badges. This is to make the translation smoother.

Also, there are tiers establishing the power ranks among the demons/monsters:

  1. Superior/top-level
  2. Intermediate/mid-level
  3. Subordinate/low-level

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