Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 75: Witch Hunt
There was an amazingly thick giant fir in the backyard of the Ramon’s inn. It was so high that it pierced the sky, and its branches stood straight.
If one were to climb to the top of the tree, they could see the greenery of the Frontier Forest extending into the horizon and the Ash Mountains that were embedded in the dark blue sky. At sunrise, it seemed that the eyes could encapsulate the entire sky, showing a magnificent and beautiful new world.
Oliver Ramon quickly discovered this little secret.
With his strong body, he had been more lively and rowdier than the other children ever since he was a child. Piper Ramon almost pasted “a hundred things that children can’t do” on his face, but it was a shame Oliver didn’t learn the skill of pretending to be obedient earlier in his childhood.
That was probably when he was about five years old. Once, while Old Ramon was having a banquet in the backyard of the inn, he quietly climbed up the tree. At first, he was full of interest, but halfway through the climb, he began to feel frightened as the idea that he would die if he fell entered his thoughts. When Oliver climbed to the top of the tree, he was in a cold sweat. His limbs were like soft noodles, and his entire body was glued to the thickest branch.
He looked up and saw the huge skull lying in the center of the treetop.
It was too big, bigger than any of the heads of all the creatures he had ever seen. The length of the skull was close to that of an adult’s, and the height was about the same as Oliver’s size at that time. Its shape was weird and distorted. Its sharp teeth showed no traces of decay, and small pieces of moss and thin vines were crawling in several hollow eyes.
Oliver was startled, but he didn’t have the strength to stand up and escape. Truthfully, he didn’t have any special fears at that time. The skull was scary, but it lay in a very gentle landscape. Sunlight leaked from among the leaves, casting their light on the white bones. There was a bunch of artificially tied flowers in front of it. Although the edges of the petals had darkened and there were signs of withering, there were still clear traces that had been placed there recently.
A few chubby tits swept down from the air. They seemed afraid to stop near the skull. The tits tilted their heads and pecked at the beetles on the trunk near it, letting out a few chirps from time to time.
It was a vibrant scene of death.
‘Are these the bones of a dragon?’ he thought. The size was similar to a dragon’s, but a dragon only has two eyes. Besides a dragon, the second choice in Oliver’s young head was a cow; which was obviously the incorrect answer.
He patted the dust and bark debris off his pants, frowned and rubbed his bruised knees, and then wandered around the skull. This was a secret, Oliver thought excitedly. His own secret.
Oliver knew what he could do. There weren’t many adults in the entire town who could climb to the top of this tree. As long as it wasn’t discovered by the owner of the bunch of flowers, it could become an excellent secret base.
“I decided to call you ‘Mr. White’. Mr. White, my name is Oliver Ramon—you can call me Ollie.”
He announced with such a loud voice that it scared away all the tits that were foraging.
Now, it seemed that it was no longer just his secret alone.
“How do you know—” he came to a halt, patting Nemo on the back.
“I don’t know.” Nemo didn’t want to let him go. His arms were still tightly wrapped around Oliver, as if he would run away if he were to let him go. It was like a drowning person holding onto the last piece of driftwood tightly. “But I just know. Don’t move, Ollie. Let me hug you for a while.”
“…It doesn’t matter if you don’t know. We can sneak back to Roadside Town when we have the opportunity.” Oliver obediently remained motionless. “Believe me, it must still be there.”
“Okay,” Nemo responded. His feet softened, allowing his weight to press forward.
“Oh,” the witch said with a voice full of banter as she walked into the room. “Although I don’t mind providing a room, it’s not suited for this gentleman to have intense exercise right now.”
Oliver was still trying to hold onto Nemo, who seemed to have fallen asleep. After hearing what she said, he instantly reacted, and his ears began to redden suspiciously.
“I’m just joking.” The old lady put the watering can on the wooden frame against the door and carefully wiped the drops of water on it. “Don’t worry. This is the sequelae of memory combing. After recuperating for a bit, there’ll be nothing to worry about come tomorrow… I think you have finished talking. I will take care of this young man. You can do what you have to do.”
“He…” Oliver carefully helped Nemo to one side of the chair. At that moment, he was pretty sure that Nemo was indeed heavily asleep.
“He will repeat this process for a while; waking up for a bit, then sleeping for a bit.” The witch moved herself to the workbench, picked up a mortar, and began to mix powders together. “Everyone’s like this. Even the dragon wasn’t an exception. It’s normal.”
Her orange cat jumped on the table, wagging its tail at a group of people, seemingly in a bad mood.
“Let’s go have a meal. You can’t eat and drink here, and I’m hungry,” the female warrior suggested, smacking her lips. “And I think we need to talk.”
Adrian was still looking at Nemo. He nodded in silence. Jesse picked up the gray parrot with interest and said, “What are we going to eat?”
The fact was, they didn’t have much of a choice. The entire Caleb Village only had a single tavern.
Four people sat around the square table, but no one spoke. Adrian chewed his bread silently, Oliver drank his soup intently, while Ann put her fingers on the mouth of her wine glass, turning it absent-mindedly. Only Jesse slapped the potato wedges in his soup around, making an impolite noise. The gray parrot lay languidly by the bowl of soup, acting as if it was one of the dishes on the table.
“A complete superior demon. How exciting,” Ann said, breaking the awkward silence. “Oliver, have you kissed him yet?”
Oliver choked on the soup and let out an earth-shattering cough. Adrian put down the bread in his hand and squeezed his brows unbearably.
“If you have kissed,” Ann continued solemnly, “then you may be the first human on the surface to kiss a superior demon. You need to know that the average superior demon has a tooth bigger than ours. The Holy Church should award you a medal—”
“There is no such medal.” The knight commander finally spoke. “I want to know what you really think, Mr. Ramon.”
“I already told you.” Oliver wiped off the soup he coughed out from the corners of his mouth. “This has nothing to do with my… Uh, personal feelings for Nemo. I don’t think it’s wise to instigate something, especially if he hasn’t done anything wrong.” He put down the napkin in his hand.
“Let’s not talk about whether power itself is the original sin. Even if Nemo doesn’t mean to now, he’s a normal person, and normal people always get angry when they are attacked for no reason,” he said solemnly. “This is not a complicated truth, right? Because the opponent is stronger, you can confidently take the lead… I don’t like that approach.”
“You speak lightly.” Jesse chewed on the meat as he spoke. “But if he goes berserk one day and blows up the whole world in half—”
“He can do it now, but he hasn’t.”
“Maybe he hasn’t had time to do it yet.”
“I won’t let him do that—I promised Mr. Cross.”
“But you may not be able to stop it.” Jesse bit his fork and shrugged indifferently.
“At least I will give it my best. There’s still a glimmer of hope than reporting it to the Holy Church immediately and losing sight of the sacrifices that will be made due to the oncoming battle.”
Besides, Nemo is the kindest person he has ever known, Oliver thought. He didn’t believe that a person who burdened himself with younger brothers and sisters and let them be spoiled would want to destroy everything. Even if he had made such an assertion, it seems that his strength was far behind Nemo’s. Still, Nemo Light was his companion, a member of his team, and his responsibility.
He didn’t want to stand in the position of an insignificant person and say some self-righteous naïve talk.
For the first time, Oliver desperately wanted to become stronger. If he was stronger, strong enough to restrain the panic caused by a ‘complete superior demon’, then he could straighten his back and say that sentence. To say what he wasn’t qualified to say now…
Because I believe in him.
“What are you laughing at?” Jesse raised his eyebrows and poked at another piece of meat with his fork. “This isn’t a funny topic.”
“For the first time, I feel fortunate to have strength.” Oliver tugged at the corner of his mouth. “Mr. Cross… I hope you will start tomorrow and adjust the intensity of your training to the highest level.”
“Okay,” the knight commander said solemnly. “I won’t do anything for the time being. But if I find that you do not have that qualification, I will find a way to report the situation to the Holy Church… I hope you can understand my position.”
“Thank you.” Oliver pulled away from his chair, stood up, and saluted slightly. “Thank you, Mr. Cross.”
“Compared to this, Oliver, you might as well take him down quickly—”
“…Please shut up, Ms. Savage.” Adrian almost crushed the handle of the spoon in his hand.
Oliver scratched his nose and was about to respond when suddenly the tavern became chaotic. People started whispering like a beehive, then they put down the tableware in their hands and pushed away their food regardless of how much of it was eaten and squeezed out through the narrow tavern door one after another.
“What’s going on?” Ann took a sip of wine. “Our voices weren’t that loud, were they?”
“Oh, of course not.” The blond young man finally swallowed all the food in his mouth; finally, his enunciation became clear. “Perhaps everyone was so focused just now that you didn’t hear the voice of the person nearby. They said that ‘Horizon is coming’.”
“Horizon Mercenary Group?” The female warrior put away her smiling expression and frowned slightly. “What are they doing in a small place like this?”
“Who knows?” Jesse gulped down the wine in his glass. “Does anyone else want to have another drink together—hey, even the clerk ran away?”
The last person to run out of the counter was a small young man with a crooked turban on his head, covered with the smell of firewood unique to the kitchen. He dashed out like a cannonball while wiping the oil on his hands on his apron.
“Wait, wait, wait.” Jesse grabbed his apron belt when the small young man almost flew past him. “What’s going on?”
“Ow, let go!” the little man yelled. “Who knows, I just heard it! They said that Horizon is coming.”
He cleared his throat, lowered his voice, and there was a glint of excitement in his small eyes. “…And they’re here to hunt a witch.”
At the same time, in the residence of the witch.
Nemo thought he had been asleep for a long time. He only remembered hugging Oliver near the end. Now he was lying on thick blankets in the witch’s living room, covered by a thin sheet. As soon as he opened his eyes, he saw a huge cat face that caused him to sneeze hard.
The orange cat let out an angry hiss.
“Caramel, don’t disturb the guests,” a cold yet pleasant female voice said. The rickety figure didn’t match the voice that was busy at the workbench. “Mr. Light, right? How are you feeling?”
“Not uncomfortable.” Nemo propped up his body and felt unexpectedly refreshed. The sense of resistance and nothingness was gone. Although there were more mysteries, he felt more at ease than ever before. “Ollie and the others—”
“Your companions have gone out to dinner.” The witch filled a glass with bright green liquid while the crucible on the other side was cooking something. There was a smell of chamomile and cabbage wafting in the air. “Don’t worry, they didn’t leave you behind. In addition, if I were you, I wouldn’t get up… The floor of my house is quite hard. If you fall asleep suddenly again, you may fall very painfully.”
Nemo quickly lay down straight. The witch’s living room was very warm, and he was still a bit flustered. He glanced at the books piled up in the corner and slowly got up again.
“You know what you are, don’t you?” The witch saw him move like a sloth and opened her mouth with a smile. “I guess you can be considered a ‘’bigshot’.”
Nemo was silent. He didn’t know whether to directly say it, so he chose a vague answer. “Maybe.”
“You don’t need to be nervous,” the witch said casually, mixing the two liquids together. The mixture in the test tube made a hissing sound. “I’m not human either. It’s fine.”
Nemo turned his head so abruptly that he could hear the soft crack of his neck.
“My race is the ‘Eastern Witches’.” She shrugged her skinny shoulders. “You may have heard of it. Don’t be so formal. You can read the books over there.”
Nemo wiped his hands on his robe, carefully picked up a book, and looked at the witch’s back. The witch didn’t look at him. Although her voice was calm, her body was trembling slightly.
“Ms. Nadine, are you scared?” He asked a little dryly.
“Afraid of you? Yes.” She didn’t deny it. “But you are in my residence and you’re my patient… You trusted me, didn’t you?”
“If I make you uncomfortable, I can go outside first—”
“No need. Only a terrible doctor would do that, leaving a patient outside.”
“You’re not a healer?”
“I can’t use human healing magic.” The old lady coughed lightly and put the mixed liquid on a delicate silver stand to cool. The smell in the air began to smell good again. “I’m just an ordinary doctor.”
Nemo’s expression became solemn. He sat upright and opened a thick book titled “The Disappearance of the Earthsea Orchid”. He glanced at the preface briefly. This book seemed to record the research on a certain long-extinct flower. He had never read about it in the library of Roadside Town, so it made him feel instantly better.
As a result, before turning a few pages, a photo fell out of the book. The appearance of the two girls was carefully fixed on the thick parchment by photo magic. The parchment itself was yellowed, but it was clear that it was well preserved.
One of the girls was breathtaking. The beauty was incomparable to any human on the surface. Her long blond hair was curly, and her eyes were brilliant sand-gold. The other was much more ordinary. She was chubby, with a collapsed nose and small eyes. She had short brown hair, dazzling freckles on her cheeks, and her nose wrinkled with laughter. They squeezed their heads together, showing an unrestrained smile on the outside of the picture.
Nemo subconsciously turned over the photo, and the date was neatly written in handwriting on the back of the photo. It was a certain day sixteen years ago.
Below were two names. “Nadine and Lisa”.
“Sorry, this… Uh, I didn’t mean to…” Nemo carefully put back the photo. “Is it okay to clip it in this book again?”
The old lady slowly turned her head and glanced at the photo.
“Yeah, just put it in that book.” There was no fluctuation of emotions in her voice.
“Is that you in this photo?” Nemo hesitated for a while, but still couldn’t help asking. “Of course, if you don’t want to answer—”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s me.” The witch’s tone was very flat. She poured the cooled mixture into a small bottle, stood up tremblingly, and walked slightly to Nemo. “After drinking it, you have to sleep for a while.”
Nemo grabbed the bottle. This time, the potion in the bottle was a viscous gray-green color. His hands trembled a little, recalling the taste of the last bottle of potion. He hugged the book with his other hand and dawdled back to the thick velvet blanket as his expression was mixed with doubt and gratitude.
The witch Nadine looked at the silver eyes of the black-haired young man who had returned to normal. “I know what you are wondering. I don’t mind my age so much. How old are you… Twenty-two, twenty-three?”
“Maybe twenty-three.” Nemo unscrewed the mouth of the bottle. The strong smell of wet bark and camphor hit his nose. “I’m not sure, but it’s around there.” Having said that, he drank the entire contents of the potion. The heavy pungency stuck directly in his throat, preventing him from swallowing it, and it almost caused him to choke.
“I am only ten years older than you.” the witch, who looked like a prehistoric monster, said calmly. “Don’t worry. I won’t force you to call me ‘Miss Nadine’.”
The witch’s words were very effective. Nemo suddenly gulped down the entire potion.