Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 144: Love and Responsibility
‘They’re so close,’ Nemo thought.
Oliver leaned against the light-colored wooden bedside. His loose robe exposed his neckline, revealing a little of his collarbone. The soft light brown hair was a bit messy, and in the sun, the emerald eyes were clear and calm, looking at him full of trust and comfort.
The other body’s temperature was still stuck to his skin. Nemo clenched his hand into a fist. He was attached to this temperature, but as a result, he had to know everything.
It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought about concealing it.
The idea of hiding it did emerge from the depths of his mind from time to time. After all, only he knew the details of everything that happened in the Church of Silence. As long as he remained silent or claimed to be just a weird wanderer… Nemo had never been as clear as he was now, how much pain it would cause to push away this warmth with his own hands.
It would be better to maintain the status quo ante. As long as he didn’t tell, Oliver would never ask.
But he couldn’t hide it.
He thought that in and of itself was a kind of mistrust. Oliver promised that he wouldn’t be afraid, and if one day Oliver himself discovered his identity—or worse, when “Nemo Light” disappeared completely and the real Demon King came into the world, what would his lover think?
That would be hell, and he didn’t want to push Oliver into hell with his own hands because of this warmth he got through deception.
He couldn’t escape.
“Ollie.” Nemo finally opened his mouth, clutching the edges of the thin quilt tightly. The air seemed to be pulled away from him in an instant, as if he couldn’t normally breathe. “I knew what I was when I brought down the Abyssal Church.”
Oliver clasped his fingers and his eyes remained gentle.
“I… I’m not as innocent as you think. Far from it.” Nemo subconsciously wanted to move his gaze away, but he forced himself to look Oliver in the eyes.
He took a deep breath like a dying person, “Although I don’t remember, I have killed many people before.”
“I told you, right? I like the Tin Soldiers very much, but I was the one that killed them. That’s Uncle Ramon’s companions—your father’s companions…”
“Before that, even earlier, for thousands of years… I don’t know how many I’ve killed…”
These words were like sharp thorns, and every word would cut into his throat.
“There’s no concept of more than a dozen generations of Demon King. From beginning to end, it was me at the bottom of the Abyss, Ollie. And now, I’m on the surface. Just the part that I discovered… The memories I lost, and even everything right now, could all be the plans of ‘who I used to be’.”
It seemed that he was vomiting something poisonous that made his tongue almost paralyzed.
“…It doesn’t matter if you violate what you told me. It doesn’t matter if you run away. I won’t be angry. I won’t blame you. I’m…”
The words got stuck in his throat, and Nemo couldn’t say them. He finally lowered his gaze, unable to bear to look at those emerald eyes that would turn cold. “I’m…”
“The Demon King?” Oliver finished it for him, but he couldn’t tell if his voice contained joy or anger.
Nemo didn’t answer. He stared at the gap in the floor under the sun, knowing that his reaction was enough to confirm it.
Oliver was silent for a long time.
Only one person’s breathing was left in the quiet space, and Nemo didn’t even dare to breathe. He still stared at the crevices on the floor, and his fingers were clenched so tightly that they scratched the thin quilt.
“I want to eat pudding,” Oliver suddenly said after a suffocating long silence.
“……What?” This wasn’t any of the answers Nemo had imagined. His brain went blank.
“Can you get me one, Nemo?” Oliver’s voice was calm and relaxed. “I need a little time to think about it.”
Nemo stood up quickly, made a quick hum, and rushed out the door as if he was fleeing. He still didn’t dare look at the expression on Oliver’s face, and even forgot to say goodbye.
He hardly remembered how he found the shop, and almost left without taking the dessert. Although the pebbled ground was extremely firm, Nemo only felt like he was stepping on cotton. His body was shaking with tension, and the people passing by seemed to be walking in a separate dimension. It wasn’t until he saw the sign at the inn that he realized he had already walked back.
But Nemo didn’t return to the room immediately.
Could Oliver have left already? He was carrying the rope around the pudding bottle when an almost cruel thought ran into his mind uncontrollably.
Thinking from a different viewpoint, this was indeed the most rational approach, but this thought made him fall into an ice cave. Nemo looked at the brightly colored signboard. The innkeeper behind the counter just poked an ink bottle with the tip of the pen. It was a warm and peaceful scene, but his stomach was twisted into a knot, and his blood vessels seemed to be replaced by tiny poisonous snakes.
In any case… When he stepped into that room again, he would certainly get his answer.
This was the path he chose for himself, and he was destined to bear the consequences of his confession. Nemo walked to the door with the pudding in hand as his heart beat out of control. He thought this was the feeling of fear, and he hated it from the bottom of his heart.
Nemo slowly reached out his hand and opened the door but didn’t find the light brown head on the bed. His heart stopped for a few seconds. Fortunately, the Rest in Peace was still lying on the light-colored quilt, which made it particularly conspicuous.
Oliver seemed to have stuffed his head under the pillow and wrapped himself into a cocoon. Hearing the door open, he stuck out his head from under the fluffy pillow.
“You can eat it,” Oliver pointed to the pudding bottle and suggested solemnly. “Sorry, I just lied. I have no appetite and you peeled the last of the pears.” Oliver sighed and sat up again. He propped up his pillow and leaned heavily against the head of the bed. “…You look horribly pale. Sweet things will make you feel better.”
Nemo was stunned in place. His lips trembled, and he couldn’t say a word.
“Come and sit down,” Oliver said, patting the edge of the bed. There was no expression on his face. “I promise I won’t scream like a ten-year-old girl.”
This time, it was Nemo’s turn to be restrained. He held the pudding bottle with both hands and almost crushed the poor bottle. After hesitating for over ten seconds, he took a few steps cautiously and sat back on the bed carefully, as if the bed was about to explode in the next second.
“I have a few questions to ask.” Oliver looked at the ceiling. “You said you’re the Demon King, Nemo…What is the basis for that judgment?”
“Fragments of Ulysses’ skull,” Nemo said dryly. “I can feel it. There’s no doubt that my power lies in it. There’s no difference at all. As for the complete skull, it’s on top of the tree in your backyard.”
“You mean—” Oliver’s voice changed a bit. “Is ‘Mr. White’ your bones? ……If I’m understanding correctly.”
Nemo slightly nodded and lowered his eyes. “This is one of the basis. The second is… This may be more difficult to understand. Ollie, I can completely control the lives of superior demons. No ordinary demon can do this.”
“I really don’t understand, but it seems you’re quite sure of your identity.”
“Then the next question,” Oliver murmured with a sullen face. “Do you really don’t remember anything?”
“That’s right.” Nemo clenched the bottle in his hand bitterly. “When I came into contact with skull fragments, I got back a little of Ulysses’ memory. He… No, I used your father to purposefully take out the skull from the Abyss. Ollie, I used your father. Although I don’t know the details, I’m here now… It must be something to do with that skull.”
Oliver let out a long sigh.
“One last question.” He turned around and looked directly into Nemo’s eyes. “Where are you planning to go?”
“What?” Nemo didn’t react for a while.
“You insisted yesterday that ‘Ann will come to pick me up’,” Oliver said slowly, and Nemo couldn’t judge the tone in his voice. “Nemo, do you want to leave?”
“Is this a breakup request?”
“You…” Nemo almost dropped the bottle in his hand. This was completely different from what he had expected. He quickly put it down on the bedside table, and the hard objects made a dull bumping noise. Honestly, he didn’t have much hope—the fact that Oliver didn’t run away brought relief from the bottom of his heart. As for the other things Oliver mentioned, he didn’t think about them all.
He never thought that they still had the luxury of a “future”.
“…It was my fault that you were sent to the Withered Castle,” Nemo growled in a low voice. “You don’t have to force it. I’ve put a lot of pressure on you. I know it. Ollie, this isn’t a joke. If I were just an ordinary superior demon, of course we could continue… But I have always been the enemy of the surface! I’ll drag you into the water one day. You…”
“Listen to me. I’m not innocent at all. What happened is a fact. No matter what I do, it will not change. I’m probably just an illusion, a disguise that makes you let down your guard…”
Nemo buried his eyes in one palm and gritted his teeth. “You’ll always make the most reasonable judgement. You know what to do.”
“I know.” The mattress sank as Oliver approached. “I have no intention of telling you ‘it doesn’t matter’ on behalf of anyone.”
Then a pair of warm arms came up from behind him as Oliver hugged him from behind. It was undoubtedly a hug. “I can’t forgive you on behalf of anyone. You’re right. No one can change what happened.”
Oliver opened Nemo’s arm and covered his eyes with his hand. The palm felt dry and warm.
“If I wasn’t ‘sent to the Withered Castle’, maybe I would make the so-called most reasonable judgement as you think.” Oliver put his chin on Nemo’s shoulder, and Nemo could feel his breathing as it whispered into his ears. “But I won’t do that now. Thank you for telling me this. I know you could have said nothing.”
“But Nemo… The Demon King has never ascended to the surface. It’s the army of the surface that enters the Abyss on its own. My father is a very smart person. He can always see through the essence of a thing at a glance, don’t you know? He had put bouquets of flowers next to your skull. He must have cherished his companions quite a bit too… but the flowers are still there. Whatever happened back then, it’s definitely not as simple as being ‘used’.”
“If you really want to be condemned, I’ll bear it with you. If you want answers, I’ll find them with you.”
“Because the person I like is here at this moment and suffers from hurting others. It doesn’t matter if it’s an illusion, it doesn’t matter if it’s a disguise. ‘You’ are here now, Nemo.”
“You might die.” Nemo cleared his throat. “I can go back to the Abyss. I can find a place where there’s no one. I…”
“I almost died… I have experienced it. I’ll be more skillful in the future.” Oliver even let out a low laugh. “Now that I know the truth, I should take more responsibility for monitoring you, right?”
“I still want to catch you more than leaving you alone where I can’t see you. After all, even if you return to the Abyss, the next expedition will be inevitable, and no one knows that you can travel freely between the Abyss and the surface now.”
“If I understand something from this… Nemo, it’s very painful to persist alone, and the pain is beyond imagination. It’ll be easier with two people.”
“I just want to protect…” Nemo’s voice became hoarse.
“The things that the ‘you before’ have done will not disappear, nor will the things that the ‘you now’ have done.” Oliver’s voice became lighter. “We have helped a lot of people, and you have indeed changed a small part of the world. If you hide, I can’t do those things alone. If one day, things really reach an irreparable point…”
The hug tightened, and the heartbeat from behind was steady and powerful. Oliver’s body temperature seeped through the thin fabric and almost scalded him.
“I’ll definitely kill you myself.”
Nemo thought this may be the best dream he’d ever had. He clung to Oliver’s arms tightly, grabbing onto the last driftwood like a person about to drown. He didn’t doubt Oliver’s words at all. Not so long ago, this person even tried to turn his own death into a yoke to defend a promise to guard the surface.
It was great that the person he fell in love with was so cruel.
“…Until then, if you want, I will be by your side.”
Nemo took a deep breath. The air around him finally reappeared. The blood flowed again, and Oliver’s hand gently covered his eyes. The sun’s rays were warm, casting an orange glow on both sides of his fingers.
“…So don’t cry.”
The author has something to say:
In the next chapter, let me… carefully turn off the lights (rubbing hands).*
*Basically, she’s saying she’ll tread carefully writing the text, so it doesn’t get reported. You all know what’s coming.
These two deserve happiness. Get ready for a
spicy chapter. We deserve it after that emotionally painful arc. Just a note, given Chinese censorship laws, don’t expect much.
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7 thoughts on “Stray Ch144”
wuwuwu wonder how censored it’ll be, i have read novels where people didn’t even know they had done the deed until the translator pointed it out lmao
Aaaaaaah i’m so close to tears istg
I love their relationship so much 🥲🥲
LikeLiked by 1 person
Olivier you’re so gooooddd wuwuwuwu
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QwQ Their love is my reason to keep on believing in love
*ugly-sobs while eagerly shoveling the dog food in my mouth* ༼;´༎ຶ ༎ຶ༽
Hehe QAQ Crying again