Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 38: You Must Not Lie
“…Did you tell her anything?” Nemo took a step back and asked Oliver in a low voice. This development was completely different from what he thought. Judging from Mrs. Edwards’ previous reaction, he thought she would blame or at least vent her dissatisfaction first. He didn’t think he was mistaken in the way that the old woman looked at her son; it was the same deep love he had once received from Old Patrick.
“Not outright,” Oliver whispered. “There were hints from Cahill that probably made her finally reach this point. We both agreed that she wasn’t under his control. Her reaction was too fast and natural. People controlled by illusions don’t have that kind of fast reaction speed.”
Nemo turned to look at Mrs. Edwards. She stood proudly on the green and black stone steps. Her exquisite clothing glistened in the dim sewers. Her face was expressionless, and her chest fluctuated slightly with her breathing. Nemo had a strange feeling that her life was leaving that satin-wrapped, overly aging body at an abnormal speed.
Adrian was silent for a few seconds, or minutes. His military-like calm disappeared for a moment.
“Yes,” he confirmed.
The old woman didn’t cry. Her expression even looked a bit indifferent, but tears silently fell along her deep wrinkles. Mrs. Edwards’ thin body trembled slightly and finally let out a suppressed choking sound. That simple affirmation was like a sentence of judgment.
“My stupid, useless son has caused you trouble.” She arched her back, bent down and made a deep bow. “I’m very sorry, child.”
“This is my own choice,” Adrian whispered. “You don’t need to apologize… I didn’t have time to save him.”
“No.” The old woman tried to suppress her sobs as she spoke slowly. “Cahill did the wrong thing. The mistake is his and has nothing to do with you. I can even guess what that child’s wish was.”
She unfolded the parchment roll of the Black Chapter mission, stretched out her hand, and signed her name. The paper roll burned and turned into ashes that scattered in the air.
“Your mission is now complete,” she said in Oliver’s direction as she sniffled. “I have entrusted the rest of the remuneration to the guild. I know this wasn’t an easy task. Thank you for helping me realize this selfish wish. Believe me, the Holy Church will divert attention to other things, and you’ll still have time to escape.”
However, Nemo didn’t feel the slight bit of joy at the task completion. The neglected rose bushes and the thick dust of the Edwards’s family home shook in front of his eyes. He suddenly realized something and immediately spoke out.
“You…” He took a step forward carefully. “Don’t do anything rashly.”
“Of course I won’t.” She showed a trembling smile. “I just needed a certain answer. I knew it in my heart, but I couldn’t give up that little bit of hope. I’m feeling better now, child. Thank you for your concern.” She suppressed her sobs with a cough. “…Hope is really a torturous thing.”
But she was truly slowly dying. Nemo didn’t know the reason, but he knew.
“There’s one last thing.” Mrs. Edwards cast her gaze back to Adrian. “I have a… request that may be excessive. Adri, I know you as well as I know my own children. I know your plans.”
“I beg you. Run away—I want you to live.”
Adrian’s back went stiff for an instant.
“Yes, I know. I should respect your determination, but if you also…” She paused. “Cahill is really dead.”
“You shouldn’t punish yourself for his mistake. If you have to care about what happened, then I forgive you. Although I hope you can believe it, I can only thank you, Adri. Thank you for bringing him back. Thank you for your persistence. Thank you.”
Two years ago was actually not a long time. Adrian remembered it clearly. He remembered every detail. It was the most infuriating moment of his life.
“There are no signs of superior demons near Kenyatta. I personally confirmed it.”
“I know, Adri,” his teacher, Mercer, sighed. “Of course I know, but you have to go.”
“We cannot harm innocent civilians. There are many villages near Kenyatta. If—”
“This is for Zenni’s glory, my son.”
“No, this is for His Majesty’s glory and that mine. His Majesty has his own army.”
“This is an order.”
“I don’t accept it.”
“…I hope you know, Adri. Many people think you’re not pious enough, my child. I believe you know it very well. You are in your current position because of your strength, not because of your loyalty to Zenni. We need those stones. Listen, in order to better spread God’s blessing, we need those damn Dragon Breath stones! If you continue like this, I can’t protect you.”
“My love for Zenni has never wavered and I will never lose to anyone, but I don’t think those stones have anything to do with Zenni’s glory. God is merciful and God is almighty. He doesn’t need blood for the unliving. This war is a complete lie, and I don’t want to be a part of it.”
“…Do you know the consequences of your statement just now if it was heard by a third party?”
Silence filled the air.
“Adri, Willard is at war with Alban, so they won’t spend too much energy on the battlefield here. It’s summoning its death row army. The mine will not die, but people will. People on both sides will. You can stop all this. You can minimize the casualties. Don’t be too stubborn. God will understand all this. You know the style of the death row army. You know they ignore civilian casualties.”
“Who started this war?”
“…The war has already happened. At least you can keep more people alive.”
In the end, he became a part of this lie, and he didn’t succeed in keeping more people alive.
It was a fine day. He waved his sword, but there was no light. The death row army vented their aggression. They took heads and attacked all living creatures in their field of vision, like beasts. First the most vulnerable fugitives, then the exhausted soldiers, and finally the Knights of Judgement in shining armor.
God said, “You must not be gullible.”
His long sword crossed the neck of the death row convict who rushed over. Blood spurted out instantly. Innocent people lay dead everywhere. Old and young, their faces filled with fear and bewilderment. Dried bread and cheese that were prepared for their escape slipped from the damaged package, covered in blood, before being crushed as they scattered on the ground. He was gullible. He trusted his own strength, and as a result, he was unable to breathe.
God said, “You must not follow blindly.”
Cahill Edwards, dressed in a white robe, rushed into the bloody battlefield. He swayed his magic like crazy, trying to rescue civilians or soldiers who were rolling in the mud, on the verge of death.
“Go back!” Adrian roared at him. Just when he was distracted, another death row convict pulled him off his horse. Her eyes were red, filled with anger and madness. The slicing magic almost cut his throat. Adrian gritted his teeth and kicked her away as he stabbed his long sword straight through her heart. Blood splattered all over his face.
“Can I wait?” Cahill roared back. “Damn it, no one can make it to camp!”
“You simply—” Adrian’s horse was hit by a bombardment spell, causing its internal organs to flow to the ground. The owner of the horse pulled out a dagger from the gap in his armor, trying his best to resist the vertigo from blood loss. “This is not where you should be—”
Unable to withstand the deadly offensive of the death row army, their leaders delayed casting magic, and the tired and confused Knights of Judgement began to fall one after another. Cahill walked forward with the golden light of healing, getting closer and closer to the center of the battlefield. Adrian gritted his teeth as he passed through multiple arrays and forcibly tore a bloody hole in the formation of the death row army.
God said, “You must not lie.”
“Hold on!” He gave orders in vain as he kept making corpses one after another with his own hands. “It’s just something temporary. We can win!”
But this was no longer a simple war. Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, Garland’s army would continue on, but the death row army was a one-time weapon that was full of malice. Adrian knew very well that this attack was just to vent, to retaliate, and to save some face for the enemy’s superior.
What the hell are they doing?
As Garland’s top healer, Cahill miraculously supported them for a long time on a chaotic battlefield. The Knights of Judgement fought with his support, finally able to collapse the death row army. Unfortunately, the exhausted healer was not so lucky in the end.
It took knowledge, strength, and skill to treat a dangerous wound, but it only took enough malice to kill a person.
Adrian barely supported his body with a long sword and knelt on one knee. The enemy was dying, and Cahill staggered towards him, trying to cure him…
Then he was hit head-on by a dark curse.
The amulet on Cahill’s neck hissed, showing the distortion unique to metal melting. He fell to the ground. Adrian immediately stood up desperately and threw his long sword, which ran through the last enemy, and then crawled towards his friend’s side.
“Cahill!” He propped up the other’s head with a hand full of wounds. Cahill was still breathing, which made him subconsciously breathe a sigh of relief.
“The Sigh of the Abyss.” Cahill coughed a few times while joking weakly, “I’m still alive… Your amulet is really good. You sure you don’t want it back?”
“But my hands won’t work. What should I do, Adri? I can’t treat you.”
“It’s over… I’m still alive and I don’t need treatment,” Adrian said quickly. “Can you move?”
Cahill nodded laboriously. Adrian took a breath and carried him up. The Knights of Judgment were still alive but could barely form a team. Their horses had already turned into minced meat under the crazy attack of the enemy.
“The curse destroyed my spine,” Cahill whispered on his back. “It should have shattered all my bones.”
“Don’t talk, Cahill.”
“I can cure this.” Cahill ignored Adrian’s request and continued to mutter in a low voice. “Although it’s difficult, I can—but I can’t cure anyone now, Adri.”
A warm liquid dripped on his neck. Adrian did not answer.
“…Put me down.”
“I should die here.”
“Joanna is still waiting for you.”
“I will be a burden to her for the rest of her life. Don’t you understand? Adri, please. While I still have courage—”
“You need to rest.”
“Why did we become like this? Right or wrong, I hoped there would at least be an answer… But this is meaningless. I don’t want this. I don’t want to go back. This is not what I want.”
“…You need to rest. Get some sleep and at least see Joanna. If you still want to die by then, I won’t stop you.”
“You really… haven’t changed at all. Can’t you be better at lying?”
“I will respect your will.” Adrian shook his head and became dizzy again. “But I… want you to live.”
“Cahill, everything will be fine.” He continued, thinking for a moment, and repeated, in a less firm voice, “everything will be fine.”
This sentence seemed not to be a lie at the beginning. Their return was called triumphant. The king of Garland happily incorporated the dragon breath stone mine named Kandal into his territory. Compared to Adrian, who suddenly went into the war and still hadn’t regained his strength, Cahill was pushed to the top. Flowers, applause, cheers, and glory flooded him.
He became a hero, the embodiment of hope and virtue, and every child in Garland knew his name.
But Cahill Edwards never laughed from his heart again. His judgment wasn’t rong. Except for himself, no one could treat the sequelae of the Sigh of the Abyss. He lay on the bed in his room, and day after day, when he met with nobles, he needed someone to push his wheelchair carefully.
“Adri, I really envy you,” Cahill commented calmly after Adrian had lost his knighthood.
Adrian stopped his hands that were folding up the blanket.
“…You should have left me there in the first place.” Cahill stared at the ceiling. A sigh leaked from his lips.
He should have noticed then. Why didn’t he notice? Adrian thought.
What he had said back then had now turned into a request that was returned to him.
“Very well,” he replied solemnly. “I promise you.”
Mrs. Edwards’ wrinkled face pulled out a trembling smile.
“But what are you going to do?”
“I can probably guess that child’s wish,” she said calmly. “It’s still by my side and hasn’t touched me. I can guess. Cahill’s wish should not have been fully realized yet. As long as the wish isn’t fulfilled, the demon cannot really take over… Isn’t that right?”
“If I’m not mistaken, that wish should be my sin, so it needs to be ended by me. ‘The believers of Zenni will not do such a cowardly thing as commit suicide. We will die with faith, in battle, in a fate that we cannot foresee’… I will not turn my back on my faith.”
The old woman picked up her skirt and walked to Adrian. She didn’t care about the dirt left by the battle. She stood on tiptoe. Adrian lowered his head cooperatively as she gave him a kiss on the top of his head.
“I’m really happy to see you again.” She stopped crying though her eyes were still slightly red. “Goodbye, child.”
She saluted them, ignited a paper, and her figure dissipated in the hot and smelly air, like the wind.
At the same time, Telaranea dropped the fresh rose in his hand and sighed at the communication crystal.
“It seems that I’ll still have to lose an eye,” he said regretfully. “I have a hunch that this body may not be of much use for long. Oh, what a pity. Edwards’ knowledge can’t be learned from books.”
“It’s rare that you would admit defeat so easily.”
“Of course I have to struggle, but my hunch is never wrong. Witherspoon’s body is asleep in the Abyss, and we all know what that means. This identity may bring me danger.”
“Why do you think they always do such useless things? Do they enjoy it?”
“…Don’t ask me.”
“Well, then this may be the final report from the Hailam region.”
There was the sound of the door opening in the foyer. The demon packed everything up and put on an impeccable smile. He controlled his wheelchair and moved to the living room. The fragrance of the rose on Mrs. Edwards was stronger than ever before.
The old woman nodded at him; her eyes as soft as ever.
“Yes,” she said softly, opening her arms and giving her son a rare hug. “Can you make me a cup of tea, son?”
“Of course,” he replied cheerfully. “The bishop left not long ago. He wanted to see you. I heard that your task has been completed.”
“Yes, they did rescue him.” She picked up the teacup and took a sip.
“Did you get your answer?”
“Then I’m truly happy for you from the bottom of my heart, mom.”
Oof this chapter was heavy.
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2 thoughts on “Stray Ch38”
This chapter reminds me very much of the knights Templar. Their stories are quite similar
task competition => task completion