Stray Ch157

Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong

Translator: Kinky ||

Chapter 157: Group Exercise

“Cause and effect, fast.” Seeing the warrior getting closer and closer, the two of them moved away from their roommates. Oliver lowered his voice and sped up his speech.

“He did something to Hayden, my roommate. It was pretty rude,” Nemo said quickly. “I grabbed his wrist and asked him to apologize. Hayden asked me to go with him, so I couldn’t turn a blind eye.”

“Understood,” Oliver said calmly. “What do I need to do?”

“To prevent him from making trouble again, I acted a little grumpy. He also mentioned you—In his eyes, you are a guy whose only good quality is your face, and now you also have one more skill that isn’t very good.”

Oliver raised his eyebrows.

“The circumstances were… special,” Nemo said with a flat face. “He brought it up first, so I just blurted it out…”

“I—Ahem, understand. It seems that you weren’t grumpy enough. He doesn’t seem like he’ll let it go. I can probably guess what happened.” Oliver stretched out his hand and rubbed Nemo’s hair. His tone became more meaningful. “As for the topic of ‘technique’, we’ll continue that later.”

After that, he lowered his gaze and adjusted his breathing. He moved his shoulders slightly, and when Oliver raised his head again, Nemo found that his lover had become a bit strange. The usual calmness and gentleness on Oliver’s face disappeared in an instant, and the newly emerging tension was mixed with a little confusion, as if he was holding on to his last bit of dignity.

Nemo was no stranger to such expressions. When the shopkeepers in Roadside Town faced the tax collector, they more or less had this expression on their faces.

“Leave it to me,” Oliver whispered when the warrior was still a few steps away from them.

“Quentin Leonard.” The warrior stopped in front of them, his voice cold. “What a coincidence that we are in the same group. You are—”

“Nemo Murkos White,” Nemo threw out the pseudonym dryly.

“Mr. Leonard.” Oliver took a step forward, with that complicated expression on his face. “What do you want from us?”

“Don’t worry, I haven’t lowered myself to specifically target two civilians.” Leonard glanced at Oliver’s face and coldly snorted, letting out a breath of relief. “Keep an eye on your wild cat, so he knows better to not stretch out his paws and scratch other people casually.”

“Oh, he doesn’t belong to me. It’s his freedom to do what he wants,” Oliver responded without smiling. “I’ll persuade him well, Mr. Leonard, but I have to remind you that he has a really bad temper. Since we’ll be fighting together for the next year as comrades-in-arms, I suggest—”

“Comrades-in-arms?” Leonard sneered. “Do you think you can be on an equal footing with everyone when you enter Clementine?”

Oliver swallowed. His voice was a little low, so he cleared his throat and swallowed harder to highlight his “uneasiness”. Nemo turned his head, and his expression twitched a bit due to a smirk.

“After all, logistics and nursing are just expendables for the army. Of course, gold will shine, and then it’ll be picked up. All that’s left is useless sand. Considering yourself a ‘comrade-in-arms’ with no magic aptitude?” He grinned nastily. “You will know in a while… First of all, I won’t deliberately give you a low score, but I won’t give you the slightest bit of mercy.”

“As you say.” Oliver squeezed out a hard smirk.

Leonard snorted disdainfully, turned around and left. Oliver rubbed his face and the slick that was unique to low-level businessmen just now suddenly disappeared.

“Do you know what he’s talking about?” Nemo patted Oliver on the back of the head lightly.

“I don’t know,” Oliver admitted frankly, “but I can see what kind of person he is. The good news is that he probably won’t bother us specifically in the future. The bad news is that he’ll definitely pay more attention to us. Our Mr. Leonard isn’t a bad character, but too immature.”

Nemo turned to Oliver and raised his brows. He had never been as good as Oliver in this aspect. “What do you mean?”

“He has his own additional magic array on his cloth armor, plus a high-society accent. His skin has no roughness; he has the smell of cologne; and his nails are neat and clean.” Oliver listed them out one by one. “A true nobleman, not a titular nobleman who’s being sponsored. I gave in a little, and Mr. Leonard didn’t press further. Guess he… just lives on the basis of indoctrinated ideas, so he can’t be much worse than others.”

“Your performance wasn’t like a ‘civilian’, which is beyond Mr. Leonard’s understanding. He just came to prove that his cognition hasn’t been wrong.” Oliver shrugged. “Don’t look at me like that, Nemo. There had previously been such nobles at the Roadside Town Inn. Those difficulties weren’t out of dissatisfaction. They want to see you obedient or miserable.”

“But if this kind of thing happens again, I don’t think I can—”

“No, your judgment is correct. It’s a good choice to be grumpy.” Oliver leaned forward and kissed Nemo’s ear. “We are in different situations and being grumpy can save you a lot of trouble. And… about the ‘technique’ part. Well, here’s the deal. When training is over, we’ll ‘discuss’ this issue seriously and thoroughly.”

As soon as his voice fell, the amplified voice sounded again.

“No lunch,” the voice said. “I believe you’re all unprepared. This class will last until sunset. Please follow your group into the outermost layer of Isamel Labyrinth.”

The words “no lunch” deflected the attention of the two like the sound of thunder. They were both stunned at the same time.

“There will be almost no notice on the battlefield. Don’t be too nervous. We have set up a monitoring crystal ball—if things get out of hand, there will be a professor and school workers ready to help at any time. The monsters inside have also been strictly restricted in power, and in theory, your lives will not be in danger. There’s no food, and only uniformly distributed weapons are allowed to be used. After sunset, the combat units of each group will be scored, and this score will be included in your final score.”

“In addition to the healers, the logistics and nursing of the auxiliary unit will be graded by the same group of students. The score will also be included as a proportion of the final score, so please take note.”

Hearing that, Nemo’s attention was finally pulled back, and he suddenly understood what Leonard meant.

“Isn’t that a bit unfair?” When the school worker took away the props needed for nursing, he asked his roommate in a low voice. “Why is there a separate score for nursing and logistics?”

“Because they are easily replaceable.” Hayden neatly hung the bizarre metal utensils into his pocket. “These two majors don’t use magic, so basically anyone could do it. The reason why Clementine opened these two majors is… Ah, let me put it this way. If you want to temporarily recruit nursing and logistics from other institutions, first, you can’t guarantee the quality, and second, the synchronization rate doesn’t work and would need ample practice.”

“So we’re sort of… supporting?” Nemo smacked his lips.

“Nn,” Hayden muttered in a low voice. “After all, each school has its own teaching style, and it’s easier for people who come out of the same system to cooperate, but it’s only likely that we’ll go with healers to treat the wounded. They won’t deliberately cooperate with us, so the evaluation of the same team will also be counted in the final score.”

With that, the team reached the door of the Great Isamel Labyrinth. Nemo had noticed this place before, but subconsciously regarded it as a garden or something like it. The support staff lined up at the back of the line, and he slipped back to Oliver in a natural manner.

The heavy off-white stone gate made a muffled rumbling sound and slowly opened, revealing the ruins of an ancient city inside. The buildings were all in the style of hundreds of years ago. A small part had fallen into a pile, but most of them were still standing firmly, barely maintaining the appearance of a “city”. Trees grew out of all kinds of strange places, and even one took root on the dilapidated roof of an abandoned church.

Green climbing vines were everywhere, weeds and shrubs almost drowned the road, and if one didn’t pay attention, they would trip over the stone bricks. From time to time, low-level demons passed through the grass, and the breath of monsters and ordinary beasts filled the ruins. A high black wall could be vaguely seen in the distance. Nemo guessed that it was one of the outermost boundaries of the maze.

The messy and huge ruins of the city in front of him were indeed qualified to be called a labyrinth. The strange thing was that there was no shortage of towering buildings in the ruins, which should reasonably be quite conspicuous, but they were grouped outside, and obviously looked empty.

“Battlefield of Ruins.” The voice that guided them became louder. “There’s only one task requirement. Get the main mane snake head on the snake-maned lion before sunset. You’re not allowed to kill the body of the snake-maned lion. The labyrinth is about to close. I wish you all the best in your task.”

“Is everyone hungry?” Oliver’s big roommate stood up first. Elmer scratched his head with a silly smile on his face. “It’s almost lunch time now, Ollie. I’m going to get food. How about you arrange a stronghold with the team?”

“No problem, but you’ll be alone…”

“I’ll go with him.” Leonard stood up. “I’ll stop by and do some environmental reconnaissance.”

Oliver selected a small side hall in the ruins of the church. The architectural structure there was quite complete, and those nearby were all inconspicuous little demons, and the soldiers with the team easily drove them away. After neatly disposing of the weeds that were piercing them, Oliver cleared up the ground covered with gravel and debris. He then made a fire and used it to boil the animal repellent soup.

The healer in the group was a thin young man with a long face. He sat firmly on the floor, bathed in a few rays of sunlight that was leaking from the roof. His expression resembled a capybara soaked in warm water.

Elmer came back faster than Leonard. He put his bulging bag on the ground, and several plant tubes rolled out from the mouth of the bag.

“I found fire potato vines nearby and also caught a few four-eyed rats and climbing pheasants that are pretty fat.” Elmer wiped the sweat from his forehead. “Everyone, wait a bit… Ollie, help,” as he said it. He made another fire and began to bake potatoes in batches. Oliver weighed the bunch of climbing pheasants and dealt with them neatly.

“Do you want help?” Nemo asked, subconsciously.

“Sit back.” Before Oliver shook his head, the healer spoke. “Save your energy, White. Don’t trouble me. That’s logistics job.”

Nemo sat back on the floor bitterly, staring melancholically at the hot potatoes rolling around on the ground. He recalled the food at the ceremony dinner yesterday for a few seconds and showed a regretful expression. Still, hot potato is also good, he thought impartially. It was very filling and when cooked with mushrooms, the taste wasn’t bad.

“Leonard has made contact.” The soldiers gathered in the corner of the side hall greeted. “He found the snake-maned lion. Commander, we need a few more people.”

“Four will go.” Their commander was dressed like a mage. “Leaving two garrisons at the base and the offensive mage… Let’s see, Dave, right? You’ll also go with them. Depending on the situation, you can provide support. I, myself, can also partially be an offensive mage, so it shouldn’t matter.”

“Bring these.” Elmer carefully wrapped the roasted potatoes and handed them to the soldier. “Replenish some energy on the road.”

Oliver’s roommate was the tallest and strongest on the field, but he didn’t even have a sword. Nemo could perceive a little bitterness in Elmer’s tone.

After the five people left, there were still ten of them in the room, half of which were auxiliary units.

“The climbing pheasant is ready.” Oliver cleared his throat and took a bowl and spoon from his big backpack. “I still have a fishy smell on my hands. Elmer, let’s switch. I’ll deal with the four-eyed rats.”

The mage and the commander rushed over in silence, while the two warriors at the door waved their hands and motioned for logistics to send them over. The healer squinted while still sitting in his original place, soaking up the sun, unsure whether he wanted to eat or not.

The air began to fall embarrassingly tranquil. The mage and the commander took the bowl, drank the broth silently, and talked about the theory of magic in a voice that sounded like they were talking to themselves. Elmer served the soup in silence, and Oliver was still flaying the rats.

“Excuse me,” Nemo couldn’t help but say, attempting to dispel the awkward atmosphere that was enveloping him from all sides. “Mr. Elmer, I seem to have caught something extra.”

As he said it, he raised his right hand, and a strange snake as thick as a wrist was being held down by him, struggling desperately. “Do you think this can be eaten?”

Hayden let out a scream and crawled away from Nemo with both hands and feet. Elmer raised his head when he heard the sound, then frowned quickly.

“Don’t move!” he shouted. “Just don’t move, Mr. White, that thing is highly poisonous!”

Oliver paused for a moment, then calmly continued stripping the rats.

“Oh.” Nemo was a little disappointed. He still missed the grilled snake meat at the Light Orphanage. After finding a crack big enough, he swung his arm and was about to throw the snake away…

“It’s the maned snake from the snake-maned lion!” The commander finally raised his head, and then his face turned pale. “Defend immediately! Auxiliary unit retreat. Nursing, where did you catch this thing? How did you catch this thing?”

“Uh, I caught a lot of snakes when I was a kid, so it was easy.” There was a thin sweat on Nemo’s forehead, and his mind was instantly churning out information about the snake-maned lion. He had only seen a portrait of the snake-maned lion, but he failed to recognize the snake in time. At that moment, he was found out, so he could only continue to pretend to be ignorant. “What do I do with it?”

“This is not a real snake. It’s part of a snake-maned lion.” The commander gritted his teeth, and a spell directly hit it. The snake suddenly became scorched black, exuding the smell of burnt flesh. “This is a maned snake used for predation and search. The snake-maned lion has already found us. Quickly call Leonard and the others back!”

Having said that, he gave the healer a look. “Confirm the nursing condition, the maned snake is highly poisonous, even if scratched a little by its fangs—”

“Nemo’s fine.” Hayden’s voice was unexpectedly calm and powerful. Before Nemo could react, his right hand was pulled over. “There are no signs of poisoning.”

“Very good. Just stay alert; the target may appear at any time.” The commander turned his head and tore his throat at the vigilant soldiers. “Leonard, are they not ready yet? What’s the matter!”

“They were led into the creeping vine swamp by a maned snake and then it ran away.” One of the soldiers raised his sword. “There’s no danger to their life, but it’ll be difficult for them to get here in a short time. We’re we pitted by this snake-maned lion? It’s almost like…”

“Don’t think too much,” the team’s defensive magician interjected. “The snake-maned lion doesn’t have that kind of intelligence, unless—”

The wall on one side of the side hall collapsed and dust splattered. It instantly spilled into the soup and overturned the other pot of animal repellent soup. A huge lion-like beast stood on top of the collapsed ruins with a low growl in its throat. It was four meters high, and its entire body was grayish-green. Looking at its size, it really looked like a lion, but those things that looked like a lion’s mane were all thin and dense snakes that were squirming up and down. One of them was exceptionally stout, as thick as someone’s thigh, and was tightly wrapped around the head of the snake-maned lion.

The main mane snake that was specified by the task.

The enormous beast opened its mouth, spitting out muddy, viscous saliva that splattered on the ground. The hind legs of the snake-maned lion were a bit lame as dark purple blood was oozing out.

“—Unless it’s the leader of the snake-maned lion.” The defense mage finished the second half of his sentence with difficulty. He seemed to want to roll his eyes at the back of his head. “Okay, we were really pitted by it.”

He trembled a bit, but his movements in his hands weren’t slow. With a wave of his staff, a protective barrier was quickly released.

“No, we don’t have enough manpower.” The commander himself also raised his staff. “Defense is the main focus. Delay time. Wait for Leonard and the others to come back! This is a tough guy, friends. He’s hurt, so we still have a chance—”

Elmer grabbed the logistic knife that he was using to prepare food, while Hayden was unexpectedly calm as he stayed near the healer and stared at the beast in front of him.

Only two people were out of place in this tense atmosphere…

“Did you find out?” Oliver, who was pushed to the back of the team, inquired quietly.

Elmer grabbed the short knife he had prepared, and Hayden was surprisingly calm. He stood at the healer’s side and stared at the beast in front of him.

“Nn,” Nemo nodded. “There are two reactions at this level. This thing is being chased by something.”

“You stay here. I’ll go. They are not opponents of this thing. The power of the healer isn’t strong. Once there are more than two seriously injured people, the task is over.” Oliver thought for a moment. “…Anyways, our personal achievements don’t matter. You’ll cooperate with me when the time comes.”

“Okay,” Quickly understanding the other party’s plan, Nemo quickly kissed the tip of Oliver’s nose. “Go and come back quickly. Do you want me to tell you where the monitoring arrays and the professors are?”

“No need. I can feel it. I’ll avoid it.” Oliver smiled quickly, then he took a few steps back and yelled as if in extreme panic…

Then he ran away.

The author has something to say:

Ollie: Let’s [stress] “discuss” this issue seriously and thoroughly [/stress]? I want to learn more.

Nemo: …

Kinky Thoughts:

I’m glad Nemo and Oliver still maintain some of their innocence despite all they’ve been through. Nothing is currently more important to them than lunch!

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