Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 71: Night at the Bone Sand Tower
The sun finally sank on the horizon. They had been walking for an entire day.
The temperature had dropped, but it was a pity that it went too low. Oliver rubbed his hands together and exhaled a faint white mist. To prevent the tip of Adrian’s bow from poking in any direction, he still kept his back straight. Nemo was a lot more comfortable. He himself wasn’t afraid of the cold. After his physique strengthened, he became like a fish in water. He didn’t even bother adding on another layer to himself and generously gave Oliver his coat.
That thing was still following them.
“Arthropod lizard. Intermediate demon,” the knight commander explained succinctly. “This one left its group, probably because it’s interested in Mr. Light.”
“Is this thing an intermediate demon?” Nemo’s impression of intermediate demons was something more terrifying, like the deadwood jellyfish. He turned around in surprise and glanced at the little thing still behind them. Its head wasn’t much different from the fuller goat in size, and it walked like it was swaying. It was full of the aura of a subordinate demon.
“Categorically speaking, yes. They use abyssal magic for their spells.” Adrian glanced at the arthropod lizard with no intention of doing anything. “Their strength is pretty strong when they act in groups, but their personalities are very docile and generally they don’t hurt people.”
“You are really impious.” Jesse Dylan buttoned his coat and breathed on his hands. “That’s a demon! Won’t you destroy it, Mr. Knight Commander?”
“It’s alive and well. It didn’t do anything. I have no reason to bother it.”
“…You’re really unholy.”
“This is one of the reasons why I was dismissed,” Adrian said seriously, as he looked at the young blond man with a little surprise. “I thought you knew?”
“Don’t you feel heartache when you pray?”
“No.” The knight commander shrugged. “The doctrine is written by humans, and I am also a human. I have my own mind.”
“Oh, that’s great. It seems I still have a chance,” Jesse Dylan joked. “It seems that you will not resolutely reject the love of an atheist.”
“Of course, if I love her,” Adrian replied quietly, while heavily emphasizing the “her”.
“I don’t mind pretending to be—”
“I don’t think it’s interested in me, Mr. Cross.” To prevent the conversation from going in a more unpredictable direction, Nemo coughed dryly and interrupted. He hesitated in the same place for a few seconds, and then approached the arthropod lizard again, which made it quickly turn over and play dead. It turned more quickly than the spinning spindle of a textile worker. “I think it’s… Uh, pretending to be dead.”
He stretched out his hand and scratched the lizard’s abdomen, but it stopped breathing.
“They are very sensitive to magic, and their IQ is not much lower than that of humans.” The knight commander paused. “It must have its purpose, but at least so far, I haven’t felt any malice.”
Oliver wrapped his two-layer coat tightly around him, and he also leaned near the lizard. It wasn’t Nemo’s illusion this time.The thing moved carefully in Oliver’s direction and even put its bony carapace towards his hand and rubbed against it flatteringly.
“…” Nemo sighed. “If I recall, aren’t I the demon warlock?”
“Give it a name?” Oliver said, with emotion while patting its shell. “I don’t think it wants to leave us.”
“Is your hobby…” Nemo stopped talking.
“It reminds me of an ‘old friend’.” Oliver smiled and patted the lizard’s carapace again.
“Bone soup,” Nemo suggested amicably. “How about that for its name?”
“…White II,” Oliver responded sincerely. “I feel that’s a little more handsome.”
“I’m a little curious about what your previous ‘old friend’ was called,” Nemo muttered in a low voice. The four small eyes of the named arthropod lizard gleamed, sticking tighter to Oliver’s side, as if Nemo would boil it into soup in the next second.
It was already dark, and the sky was clear and full of stars, as if light holes were poked into them by the tip of a needle. The last trace of heat left by the sun also dissipated, and the winter-like cold replaced the suffocating heat during the day. Fortunately, the air was dry, so the chill wasn’t too difficult.
“Oh, I called him Mr. White.” Oliver exhaled white mist again, but this time it was a bit thicker. “But it was real; only slightly smaller than this thing. When everyone was young, they would have one or two imaginary friends. I just found a more specific one.”
“If it goes well this time, I might be able to remember my ‘imaginary friend’,” Nemo decided to divert the topic away from Oliver’s hobbies. Oliver Ramon might be more interesting than he thought. “Seriously, do you want to raise this thing?”
“It’s pretty good as a travel companion,” Oliver said, finally taking his hand off the carapace. “At least it’s smart, isn’t it? It should know more about this shithole than we do.”
It turned out that this was indeed the case.
The freshly acquired White II ran to the other side of Oliver so as to stay away from Nemo. It walked in an orderly manner on the side without much change in its speed. It occasionally stopped, probed its tongue vigilantly, and arched its back away from suspicious locations. It even saved Oliver and dragged him away before a big lamprey-like mouth bit into the place where he was, making a numbing crunching sound.
“Its combat awareness may be greater than yours and mine combined,” Ann sighed as she watched Nemo lift Oliver out of a sand pile. “Even though I don’t like too many demons crowded into one team—forget it.”
She glanced at White II again. “It looks like a piece of white bread with long feet.”
After that, she took out a piece of dried meat from her pocket and stared at it, making it as if she was going to eat it for dinner. White II quivered all over, and its steps became faster.
They arrived at the weird-looking white towers at midnight. After approaching, Nemo could clearly see its original appearance. It was indeed not an artificial object. Several towers leaned askew and were as thick as ten people. Its construction was made with all kinds of bones. Yellow sand mixed with mucus was used as the glue to combine the different animal bones together. Countless “spines” were entangled in the tower, leaving terrifying traces.
It was the habitat of arthropod lizards.
White II didn’t join its kind. It obediently lay down by the burning campfire and curled its tail around its carapace. The other arthropod lizards didn’t make any movements upon their arrival. They continued to crawl around the bone sand tower, as if the newcomers were just a few tumbleweeds.
“Their towers can withstand storms and are often next to fresh water. I think Mr. Ramon has probably discovered that it is easier for you to cast spells here.” Seeing that Nemo and Oliver were still glancing around, the knight commander explained patiently. “Arthropod lizards only eat stones. As long as you don’t destroy their towers, they generally don’t attack other creatures.”
“It’s a bit strange.” Ann reached her hands closer to the flames. “There shouldn’t be a source of water in this kind of ghastly place.”
“It may be artificial,” Jesse yawned and interjected naturally. “As long as the magic is strong enough, a water source can be created anywhere.”
Nemo said, “So they are here… squatting? They do nothing but drink water?”
“They’re on vacation. After all, their king isn’t here.” Seeing someone answering, Jesse choked back his words and pretended to yawn. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t be so… loose. Lizard communities usually have a leader; usually the smartest one. It will command these things to expand the bone tower and their territory.” Adrian casually touched the tower behind him, not caring about the source of where the bones came from. “…And these seem to have not expanded for a long time.”
“Maybe their king was killed.” The gray parrot flew into the air. “Humans are always like this. They will hunt everything with long feet.”
“Then a new king will appear.” Jesse grinned. “Their king is definitely still alive.”
The blond young man looked meaningfully at the center of the tower, in the direction where the water vapor was strongest.
“It’s a pity that we don’t have a translator this time.” Oliver shivered as the coldness deepened, wishing he could sit closer to the fire. He raised an eyebrow at Nemo. “Otherwise, we might be able to chat with them and exchange our views on ‘vacation’.”
“We are not on vacation at all,” Nemo murmured bitterly as he thought about the day’s battle.
At this moment, now that his stomach was stuffed with fresh cacti and dried meat; while the arthropod lizards crawled around the tower, making regular rustling sounds like the second hand of the clock, combined with the sound of the bonfire burning, the noise made Nemo’s eyelids heavy. He casually wrapped his blanket tightly and unexpectedly didn’t feel cold.
He narrowed his eyes slightly. Everything became blurry in the darkness. He was familiar with this feeling.
As a result, as soon as Nemo became drowsy, he was awakened by Oliver, who was struggling to suppress his shivering. They didn’t bring much clothing and were dressed in line with the summer climate, and no one could sleep close to the campfire.
Fine. Nemo sighed in his heart. It would be hypocritical to worry about such things.
“Lean over and give me your hand,” he said softly, and divided half of the blanket out. “I’m not afraid of the cold.”
Oliver stared at him in silence. His expression was vague under the flickering firelight. About half a minute later, he carefully untied the scabbard from his belt and slowly approached. Nemo wrapped his hands around Oliver’s and was shocked by their coldness.
“Oh, thank you,” Oliver wrapped the blanket tightly and muttered in a low voice. “Don’t look at me like that just because I use ice… I hate winter.”
“I quite like it.” Nemo didn’t look at Oliver’s face. He kept his gaze at the burning bonfire. “Spring and autumn are also good… Summer’s a bit…”
White II hesitated to get closer before it sat up and moved next to Oliver. Oliver’s hands were warm now, and Nemo was overcome with drowsiness again. He gave up talking and let his consciousness slowly drift away.
‘Everything was familiar,’ he thought in a daze. This darkness, this temperature, and that sentence.
“I hate winter.”
A vague voice sounded in the deepest part of his mind, intermittent and vague like fragments.
“…I hate winter, Mr. White.”
The author has something to say:
…An ice warrior who’s afraid of the cold! I have long wanted to do this!
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3 thoughts on “Stray Ch71”
White II is so cute!!! 😭
Those flashback always know hook attention!
I knew something was up with imaginary friend #1
Was Nemo Ollie’s imaginary childhood friend? How are they so cute?!