Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 149. The Sword in the Ukulele
The night before enrollment.
Nemo tightened the pack on his back again as he carried a basket through the rift and stepped onto the grass with one foot. The rift in space behind him slowly closed, swallowing the roaring noises and brilliant lights on the other side.
The dilapidated carriage was now parked not far from Clementine.
In order to avoid more trouble, the three of them didn’t intend to risk entering the city in advance in order to sleep in a place with a roof. Over the past few days, everything that should be prepared has been prepared. It was unknown when, but Jesse had sent them a blue-winged bird. The tawdry bird flaunted its feathers and circled the sky ten times before dropping a copper letter box. If he didn’t feel the aura of that thing, Nemo would’ve thought Jesse had turned into it.
There were two letters inside the letter box. The paper was thick, printed with gorgeous dark lines, and the smell of incense with complex ingredients lasted a long time. The handwriting on the paper was beautiful and powerful, and the black ink would occasionally flash with fine gold. At the end of the letter was a signature and seal stamped by a dragon flying. The pattern of the seal was so extremely complicated that it could make one dizzy with just a cursory sweep of the eyes.
Nemo silently put away the letter with his pseudonym on it, trying to ignore Ann’s encouraging eyes.
He knew what Ann’s eyes meant. Nemo dutifully accepted the task of setting off smoke. In recent days, he had been busy leaving traces for Horizon in different cities to confuse their trail. In his free time after purchasing supplies, he took time to check on information about the nursing profession, so Nemo knew exactly what he was about to face. 99% of Alban’s nurses were women, and a male nurse was about as rare as finding a ladybug without spots.
The last thing he wanted now was more attention.
“Why can’t we go to logistics together?” When Ann finalized their major and planned to contact Jesse Dylan, Nemo didn’t fight against it.
“Unfortunately, the number of places that a parish can approve is limited. There’s only one place left for logistics and nursing. Or do you want to pretend to be a stranger from a different parish? Can you do it?”
“It’s useless. That would require letters of recommendation from two different bishops, and Dylan would probably curse you on the spot. Or is it that you’re biased against the nursing profession, hm?”
“No, I’m not! But wouldn’t this be too conspicuous? We’re trying to hide. If I…”
“There will be some trouble, but you won’t die. Lopez wouldn’t be interested in this kind of gossip.” Ann shrugged her shoulders and played with the communication crystal in her hand. “They want to recruit hundreds of people. Well, there will always be one or two men. Your luck will never be that bad. Or let Oliver go? But it’s too late to change now—”
“…I’ll go.” At that time, Nemo glanced at the mountains of books and sadly gave up protesting. Nursing requires a lot of knowledge and complexity. As a relatively normal human being, Oliver had almost zero chance of being able to memorize things skillfully in a short amount of time. If one of them is disqualified, it would put them in an awkward predicament.
After receiving the exact response, Jesse Dylan himself smiled for a good five minutes across the communication crystal. To be exact, Jesse was still laughing until Nemo forcibly interrupted the communication—He sounded as if he was hammering something while laughing until he was out of breath.
Nemo wiped his face and unpleasantly dragged himself out of the memory of the laughter. The broken carriage was right in front of him, with a warm feeling on it, while the fuller goat was leisurely gnawing on the grass next to it. It was just that when he opened the curtains of the carriage, the warm atmosphere disappeared instantly, and the air was bitterly cold like winter.
The aura emanated from Ann. She clenched the spear that was resting on her knee and loosened it, repeating this motion.
“Ramon.” Ann stopped calling Oliver by his first name, and even ignored the captain, as her face stiffened. “Again, what is the best way to deal with the arthropod lizards encountered in the desert?”
He wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating, but Nemo thought Oliver seemed to shrink himself, becoming a little smaller.
“Ignore it, pretend you didn’t see it, then warn the commander to avoid going there?” Oliver replied in a low voice.
Hearing the answer, Nemo thought bitterly as he glanced cautiously at Ann’s suddenly shrinking face and squeezed himself into the corner of the carriage with his baggage.
“Arthropod lizards.” Ann repeated, almost growling. “Honestly, you have a good brain, Ramon. I’ve never seen anyone who learns so fast… But the arthropod lizards, why can’t you remember this? That’s an intermediate demon, not a protected species! My God!”
Maybe it was because Oliver wanted to raise it as a pet. Nemo squeezed himself into the corner again.
“I’m sorry.” Oliver swallowed with difficulty.
Ann took several deep breaths. She rubbed her forehead and finally turned to Nemo. “Where’s dinner? Let’s eat first.”
“I really haven’t experienced this for many years,” Oliver said blankly, taking the bread Nemo had given him. He bit into it mechanically and then remained silent for a while. He turned his head, and Nemo didn’t have time to withdraw his gaze—after meeting again, Nemo had developed an inexplicable hobby.
He must watch Oliver eat. The latter seemed to be aware of this, but he didn’t mean to call him out on it, and instead, just ate more seriously.
“Give me yours,” this time Oliver demanded uncharacteristically. “You eat this.”
“But you already took a bite from it,” Nemo murmured in protest.
“Do you really mind this?” Oliver arched an eyebrow and tried to grab the bread in Nemo’s hand. As a result, Nemo reacted faster. He almost teleported to the other corner of the carriage.
“Hand it over, Nemo.” Oliver arched his brows even higher.
“Eat yours,” Nemo responded angrily, intending to swallow his dinner quickly, but another hand came faster, and he was unprepared.
Ann grabbed the head of the bread solemnly and put it under her nose. Then she frowned and quickly broke it apart. After a slight tearing sound, turquoise mold emerged.
“Is this what you eat?” The female warrior sounded a little angry. “Nemo, seriously. If you’re short on money, you can just tell me—”
“No.” Nemo hurriedly denied. “I am… Er, it’s for personal reasons.”
Oliver made an ugly face. He lowered his eyes and opened his share. The fresh aroma of wheat instantly dissipated into the air, mixed with the smell of butter.
“Half for each person,” he said simply, without a smile on his face.
Ann sighed. She didn’t say anything but threw the book on her knee directly to Nemo. “This is the only book that Oliver can’t seem to memorize. I’m going out for a bit of fresh air.”
Nemo took the book and thought for a while before he leaned next to Oliver.
“Sorry,” he said without trying to defend himself. “I didn’t mean to keep it from you.”
As he said, he untied the package behind him and carefully uncovered the fabric on it. “I’ve been wandering around these days, and I took a few short-term jobs in my spare time… But the money is almost gone, and I can’t ask Ann for it. After all…”
Oliver picked up the strange white ukulele without saying a word.
“But I can’t play,” after a while, Oliver whispered.
“I know.” Nemo scratched his head. “But I think you need something to hide your sword in. I found a good music shop. They make customizations. Go on, give it a try.”
He took the light instrument out of Oliver’s hand and fiddled with the head. The neck suddenly slid a little bit, revealing a scabbard-like socket. Oliver silently drew out his Rest in Peace and tried to put it in. It was just the right size.
Nemo adjusted the mechanism on the lower head again, and the neck closed without any traces of a joint.
“I did the drawing myself.” Seeing that Oliver didn’t speak, Nemo plucked up the courage to continue. “It just takes a little labor, but it’s not expensive. It’s just… Well, you know. Almost all the money for the wanted task was spent on preparation, and I still wanted to give you something. It’s okay if you can’t play. I’ve seen Uncle Ramon play in the tavern. I remember how he played at that time. I can teach…”
The ukulele was placed on the untied cloth, and before Nemo could continue, Oliver hugged him tightly.
“Thank you,” Oliver murmured. “Thank you, I like it very much.”
The gold pendant was still hanging on Nemo’s chest, rubbing it under the squeeze of the hug. Nemo knew it wasn’t a good time, but since he had already started, the topic would continue anyway.
He gently kissed Oliver’s ear and then broke away from the hug and untied the gold pedant on the back of his neck.
“Ollie,” Nemo said softly, sending the pendant into Oliver’s palm. “I’ve been looking for a time to tell you… I recovered a little memory from the skull fragment in the Abyssal Church. Now I remember. This is your father’s. The woman inside is your mother. At that time—”
An index finger reached his lips. Oliver didn’t pick up the pendant but made a silent gesture.
“Do you remember the cause and effect of the incident?”
“…I don’t remember.” The finger moved away, causing Nemo to lick his lips subconsciously.
“Then don’t tell me.” Oliver finally smiled. “It’s not that I don’t believe you, Nemo. My father has never told me about my mother, and I believe he has his reasons. As for what happened back then, I said I will find the answers with you.”
Nemo was taken aback. He didn’t want this pendant to be the spark of a disagreement. He was ready to tell Oliver about the memories of the Tin Soldiers, of course, this included Oliver’s father, Flint Lopez, who was chattering with him about his fiancée. He once listened to it, used him, then killed them. He wanted to confess all the pieces he remembered as they were, even if Oliver would resent him for it.
He remembered every word Oliver had said during their initial escape in the Border Forest.
[…But I don’t know his birthday, what his wife looked like, or how she died, much less the story between them…]
He knew what Sonia Ramon’s appearance was in this pendant, and the story between Oliver’s parents, when Ulysses was guiding Flint Lopez back to his team. At the bottom of the Abyss, he probably heard the other party recite it nearly twenty times.
He believed Oliver wanted to know this. This was perhaps the biggest regret in Oliver’s life. He never thought that the other party would refuse.
“I don’t want you to regret things that are not clear, Nemo. This is not information we must have at the moment. It’s incomplete and may lead to unnecessary misunderstandings.” Oliver took a bite of his bread. “When everything is clear, I’m willing to listen to you about anything, so stop showing this expression—the expression that seems like you owe it to me.”
Oliver leaned out and cradled the ukulele in his arms. Then he grabbed the book that Ann had squeezed into a crumpled mess.
“Let’s continue,” he said briskly. “This is the last one and I want to finish it as soon as possible. If there’s time left, will you teach me a little how to play it?”
“Yes.” Nemo squeezed out a single note from his dry throat and felt only his feet was finally grounded. The happiness that had been slightly illusory for a long time had become extraordinarily real.
He picked up the thick “Logistic Notes: How to Deal with Intermediate Demons” and grabbed the other half of the buttered bread. His voice was a little slurred. “Then let’s get started.”
The author has something to say：
Yes, Alban’s nursing is basically all done by girls. But the reason is not so simple. The girls in Alban are still… quite strong. _(:з”∠)_
Oliver: I kinda miss White II.
Nemo: ? White I is in front of you.
Ahhh yes! Gimme all this sugar. I need this after that painful arc.
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4 thoughts on “Stray Ch149”
White I: I feel replaced
White II: *Trembling*
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Nemo: Used a lamp post as a magic weapon, eats mold, truly a poverty victim….
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Wait. Is the current goat White II?
No, he already went back with his group, the goat is a real goat, the one that they first brought cause they couldn’t afford a horse