Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 98: Living Sacrifice
“I thought you would choose to follow by yourself.” Ann looked at the only remaining member of Tumbleweed left. Their leader was removing the simple camping items from the fuller goat. The night became darker so she couldn’t see his expression. Even the outline of his figure became blurred.
“I’m not the most suitable choice. Mr. Cross knows the Abyssal Church better, but he can’t fight alone.” Oliver broke off a young branch, peeled off the bark and looked around at the terrain. “Ann, can you help me draw three camouflage arrays in the west? The simplest kind is fine.”
“Sure.” Ann nodded readily. “Great, you haven’t become a muddleheaded fool. Speaking of… you didn’t tell Nemo in advance. Aren’t you afraid that he would care?”
“I didn’t plan to hide it from him, but I couldn’t do it,” Oliver shook his head. He dipped the branch in a liquid material from a glass bottle and carefully drew an array on the tree. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. He’s already nervous enough. When he succeeds in infiltration, Mr. Cross will find a chance to get him.”
“How considerate,” Ann snorted, her tone becoming more teasing.
“After all, Duran Virgil’s motives are unknown.” Oliver tilted his hand, and the magic array on the bark burst out with a puff of green smoke. He adjusted his mood and dipped the branch into the glass bottle again. “But when I was in the branch office, Mr. Cross said that he’s a ‘real exorcist’… Mr. Cross is not the type who lies, and you didn’t seem surprised by that statement.”
“Ah, that.” Unlike Oliver, who was busying his hands and feet, Ann had neatly drawn three hidden arrays in the corner. “Actually, I wasn’t sure… but since Cross said it, it should be true.”
Oliver finally finished tracing the camouflage array that he had just learned from the knight commander. A fine layer of thin sweat appeared on his forehead. He raised his sleeves and wiped them. The uneven plane required such an extremely high degree of concentration that it made the arm he used to paint the rune sore. “What do you think?”
“Those things on him,” Ann said as she took a bag of preserved fruit from the fuller goat and began eating it slowly. “It looks like a complete set of exorcism materials. That’s not a depth that someone can just casually disguise.”
“I thought those were painting tools.” Oliver began to build his tent. “Isn’t he a demon warlock? Nemo shouldn’t be mistaken.”
“Who knows?” Ann shrugged and patted the white icing that was stuck to her hand. “Honestly, I am interested… If I’m not mistaken, he’s not as simple as a ‘part-time exorcist’, but more of the kind that uses ruthless means…”
Her voice stopped instantly, and Oliver’s reaction was just as quick. All the magic formations they had just drawn had come in handy. The camouflage arrays activated at the same time, completely silencing them and eliminating their breath.
The two people who were painting runes on trees stared at the sudden emergence of a group not far away.
The group’s numbers looked small, but they had an insidious aura. It was too dark for them to see what those people were riding, but it didn’t look like horses. Someone at the front of the team was holding a flag, and the entire team was wearing black cloth armor. Only the floating lanterns from both sides of the team provided a pitiful bit of lighting.
Oliver realized something was wrong. The group wasn’t far from them, but they didn’t make a single sound. There wasn’t even the sound of riding and galloping on the ground.
It was like a group of moving shadows.
Oliver subconsciously held his breath. Even if there was a camouflage array, he didn’t dare to be careless. A cold and decadent faint smell wafted from not far away and that smelled like a moldy and rotten coffin. The indistinct calvary stepped into the dead forest, but their movements didn’t stagnate. They floated forward lightly, as if they were sliding on the lifeless land, and eventually their figures melted perfectly into the night.
Ann was the first to speak, “The Knights of Silence.” She spoke at a volume that was estimated to be the lowest sound she could possibly make. “I’m afraid things will not go well this time… I hope Cross and Dylan have enough distance between them.”
Adrian had indeed gone far enough. He drew magic from the sacrificial blood mark that was on the back of his neck and maintained a floating array that could sustain two people. They were orbiting around them like planets, ensuring that they wouldn’t become rotten corpses.
And the source of that magic was tucking back his long golden hair that was hanging from one side behind his ear, while his other hand was holding onto Adrian Cross’ hand tightly.
“……Why?” Finally, unable to bear it, the knight spoke. The hand that was holding his was dry and warm, and the skin was smooth without a speck of calluses or scars, unlike his own. However, there was an unpleasant sticky feeling, as if there was a slug crawling over his skin. “I remember that spiritual sacrifice doesn’t involve this step.”
“Am I not pursuing you? Look, isn’t this romantic?” Jesse’s blue eyes gleamed. “You should know, it takes a lot of magic to maintain this kind of thing. I can’t even stand very firmly right now.”
“If the two of us were twenty years younger, this kind of pursuit might be considered romantic.”
“I’m only twenty-seven!”
“Yes. That’s exactly what I mean.”
“You’re so harsh,” Jesse tutted as he exerted more force in his hand. “They all say that humility and courtesy are the virtues of a Knight of Judgement. Where are your virtues?”
“Packed up together with my dismissal.”
“…” Jesse faintly sighed. He looked up at the sky that was still covered with thin clouds. In the next second, he threw out a dagger with a warm white light that broke through the darkness, creating a hoarse scream in a corner a few steps away. Adrian stopped knowingly, and the two immediately formed a back-to-back formation.
“Interesting,” Jesse said briskly. “It’s coming so fast.”
“They seem like small fries.” Adrian opened his right hand and danced his five fingers quickly for a few seconds. A magic array was taking shape in his palm that was slowly getting bigger. When the magic array stabilized, it began to rotate slowly. He directly pressed it into the ground. The magic array didn’t enter the soil but instead released countless light needles that drilled out of the ground. This time there were more than a dozen screams from the nearby darkness, followed by a rustling sound that quickly disappeared.
“Let’s go and escape quickly.” Jesse put away his dagger. “Perhaps it’s just me… but they seem to be a little flustered?”
“Maybe.” Adrian didn’t seem to be very interested in this issue. He quickly resumed his forward posture, while Jesse remained motionless. After taking a few steps, the knight turned around discontentedly. Even though the night was dark, the furrow between his brows could clearly be seen.
However, the “cause of panic” of the monsters also surfaced at this time. A suffocating smell of decay overwhelmed the two of them in an instant. Something pale arched out of the soil, followed by a thick white bone still stained with carrion…
What came out of the soil looked like the skeleton of some kind of carnivorous fish. However, its height was more than ten meters, and there was also a piece of black flesh that was pulsating. The strong fishy smell caused by the pulsation made the air instantly viscous. Unlike normal fish bones, there were several “feet” with only white bones protruding out of the skeleton. Half of those insect-like bone feet were still buried in the soil, curled up and stretching aimlessly around, like a poisonous spider convulsing madly before its death.
“I’m curious.” Jesse threw out three daggers that hit the same position in a row. The white light directly shattered the joint of one of the monster’s feet. “Why don’t you tell Mr. Light?”
“About what?” Adrian took off the bow on his back and fired several scorching light arrows at it.
“You have such outstanding talent. It’s a pity to waste it here. There are not many people who could temporarily transform a magic array.” Jesse turned his head, but his attack didn’t stagnate one bit. His blue eyes gleamed dimly in the moonlight. “Although surface magic and abyssal magic are completely different in nature, there are also similarities. According to your talent, you would be able to master the use of abyssal magic. You don’t need to do this…” He deliberately paused for a few seconds. His tone became ambiguous, “…Be subjected to me.”
“If I heard you correctly,” Adrian’s voice became colder. His light arrows continued to pierce through the monster’s bones nonstop, accurately drilling through the pulsating flesh. “Are you suggesting I become a demon warlock?”
The monster began to struggle more fiercely as rows of dead trees were cut away by its bone feet.
“Yes. Mr. Light doesn’t seem to need so much power. He won’t care about a tiny loss.” Jesse lightly avoided the flying tree debris. As if he was tied to Adrian by an invisible chain, he stopped right at the boundary of the protection array. “He can voluntarily give you a little flesh, but not make a contract. In your case, there won’t be much deformation. At most, you’ll grow a tail or something—perhaps even something that’ll look quite suitable on you.”
“Are you dreaming, Mr. Dylan?”
“Your sleep talking is very loud,” grumbled the former knight commander. He pulled back his bow again, but this time, the appearance of the light arrow became closer to that of a huge light spear. “It’s impossible for me to accept this kind of proposal.”
“Because ‘demons are evil’?”
“No. Because I don’t plan to turn my back on my faith. Please stop joking about this.” Adrian’s attitude was resolute. He pulled the bow tightly before letting go of his hand.
The spear of light pierced straight through the mass of flesh and caused the monster to make a weird clicking sound all over its body before the piece of flesh ballooned up. The surface of the dark ball of mass lighted up, like a red arc of lightning, before it exploded.
Jesse stopped his attack.
“But your faith has turned its back on you. You see, if I take away my ‘sacrifice’ now…” The blond young man, who was of similar height to Adrian, approached. He quickly shot out and grabbed his hand directly on the exposed back of the knight’s neck. As a giver, he only needed to snap his finger to destroy the blood mark. “You’ll immediately become a rotten corpse. How unreasonable is that?”
“There’s no ‘betrayal’.” Adrian shook his head. He straightened his right arm and covered the two of them with a pure white light shield.
The ball of light exploded, causing the land around them to instantly turn into darkness. Sticky fragments splashed everywhere. Their standing positions remained intact, and at first glance, it looked like a strange and narrow stage. The monster howled angrily and dragged its injured bone foot away, diving back into the soil.
It most likely became aware of the gap in strength and wisely chose to retreat. The drumming noise coming from underground sounded further and further away with each passing second.
Jesse raised his eyebrows, put his face closer to the point where the tip of his nose almost collided with Adrian’s. The former Knight of Judgement didn’t avoid his action. His dark brown eyes almost appeared pitch black under the reflection of the light shield, but this didn’t weaken the awl-like gaze.
“There is no ‘betrayal’,” Adrian repeated. He even showed a faint, mocking smile. “God has no obligation to ‘respond’, so naturally there will be no ‘betrayal’.”
“Hm? Don’t you crazy devotees like to praise ‘God loves the world’ the most?”
“I can’t speak for others without authorization, but I personally don’t agree with it,” Adrian whispered softly.
“…It’s really tolerant that the Laddism Church could make you the Chief Justice of the Knights of Judgement.”
“Because I really love Zenni.” Adrian didn’t seem to pay attention to the beautiful face in front of him that was inching closer.
“Sorry. As an atheist, I can’t understand your thoughts.” Jesse was so close to him at this point that when his lips moved, warm breath sprayed onto Adrian’s cheek.
Adrian finally took half a step back and broke free from Jesse’s grasp. He sighed and stretched out his hands, causing the white filaments of light to entangle above his palms. It emitted a soft and warm light.
“Is it beautiful?” He asked calmly.
“……Huh?” Jesse’s brows started rising.
“It’s just my personal opinion that ‘magic’ is a miracle in some form, so it must have a source,” he said softly. “I love this light deeply, but to it, I’m just a trivial thing. If I believe that it loves me as it should, I think… that would be a bit too arrogant.”
“As long as it exists, it’s enough.”
“I see,” Jesse muttered in a low voice. “You’re not a crazy believer. You’re just a masochist.”
“As I said, you can think however you wish.” Adrian took another step away and stepped into the air above the chasm that was left behind by the monster. “We’ve made too much noise. We need to get out of here quickly.”
This time, Jesse followed honestly. His blue eyes casually swept through the magic array that was flying around the two of them before finally locking onto Adrian’s back. It was a pity that all of his prepared remarks were blocked back into his stomach by just a few words from the other party. Jesse sighed discontentedly.
“But about that arrogance,” the smile on the blond young man’s face disappeared and he spoke at a volume that only he could hear, “I have to agree with you.”
A few kilometers away.
“If I remember correctly,” Nemo tried to make him sound as if he was confused, “didn’t you say, ‘there are other barriers’?”
They had been moving forward for a long time now that it was estimated half the night had already gone. However, apart from the bad scenery along the way, this journey was extremely smooth in other aspects. Nemo had stepped onto a few immovable myxomycetes and gave out a few aggrieved “whoops”, but besides that, the only living thing he saw was Virgil and the spiny corpse bird on his shoulder.
“Strange. There should be a large guardian demon nearby.” Virgil scratched his head. “This isn’t normal.”
Nemo suddenly felt the staff in his hand become more slippery. His palms were probably sweating fiercely.
“Anyway, do be careful,” Duran Virgil’s voice was low. “We’re about to arrive… Shh.”
He suddenly made a quiet gesture with his left hand, picked up a brush with his right hand, and quickly drew a series of rough marks in the air. The air seemed to be colored by his pen, as the handwriting turned into a faint shadow, isolating them in the darkness.
Nemo silently put down his hand and secretly rejoiced for a few seconds. He was so nervous that he forgot about the staff and almost cast his spells directly.
At that moment, they were close enough to the Church of Silence that he could see its general appearance. For a large church, its shape was very irregular. The slightly distorted building revealed a desolated and treacherous beauty. A long, dark carriage was heading towards the church, and the driver’s face was wrapped in a wide white cloth, but he—or she—showed no obvious signs of wasting his energy dealing with the cage behind the carriage. About five or six weak figures were crowded together, and the sounds of chains rubbing were particularly clear in the silent night.
As Nemo could see, there were a few young people, some of whom appeared much younger than adults, and the oldest person in the cage appeared to be the same age as him.
“What is that?” Nemo swallowed quietly, trying to ease his tension.
“Sacrifices to the Demon King.” Virgil’s face was distorted. “Fuck. The time is clearly wrong… Now we’re in trouble.”
The author has something to say:
Priest of the Abyssal Church: Okay, we are ready to start the sacrifice ceremony…
Nemo: ??? Wait a minute. Shouldn’t we do something? They plan on killing people.
Fortunately, we don’t know the truth.
Man the sexual tension between Adrian and Jesse is heating up.
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2 thoughts on “Stray Ch98”
What’s going on between Jesse and Adrian 👀
Jesse and Adri I see it too.
I really appreciate their goat. It’s a good goat. Very stable.