Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 245: Uninhabited Town
The bottom of the Abyss was submerged in silence.
In the previous battle, Nemo stopped his breathing and heartbeat, and what poured into his ears at this moment was dead emptiness. Not long ago, Ulysses was still roaming around here. Even if there were many bold superior demons who came to prey on the corpses, they wouldn’t be stupid enough to alarm the terrifying killing machine.
The silent darkness completely buried him, a feeling that Nemo was familiar with. He was free to peer into the thick darkness nearby, and he could sense that vast and infinite void around him. It was a pity that since the surface was assigned to Jesse Dylan, he could no longer monitor everything on the surface.
Nemo had once thought there wasn’t much difference.
Perception had never been about vision, and those tiny lives squirming in the distance didn’t have any color. From the moment he approached the sun and curled up his body, he never saw the real sunlight again.
Next came a mixture of deafness and blindness that blended into the eternal night. The vast majority of his own memories were faded into the background. If Nemo was happy, the body of the “Demon King” would stay motionless in place for a hundred years, and all perception would be used only for thinking and calculation.
A day, a year, or decades in boundless darkness. In his perception, there used to be not much difference.
Now the situation had changed—the darkness in memory had never been so boring, and the time had never been so long.
Maybe this was a side effect of “emotions”.
Nemo restarted his heartbeat and breathing. Several balls of light rose, illuminating the space within a radius of a kilometer for him and at the same time illuminating the pile of demon corpses in the distance.
The temperature here was extremely low, so the corpses decayed very slowly, not even keeping up with the speed at which they were slowly absorbed by the bottom of the Abyss.
After a fierce battle with Ulysses for half a day, there wasn’t much sand left on the ground in this area; only countless deep pits and mangled bodies remained. Nemo looked around and walked in a certain direction.
He remembered this place. He remembered every place.
More than twenty years ago, he met Flint Lopez, who was separated from the team in order to hold off a wanderer nearby. This saved him a lot of trouble, as he didn’t need to consider other ways to contact that human.
At that time, he led Flint forward in the dark, towards the distant expedition.
Nemo walked alone along the route in his memory, and the cold fine sand reappeared, flowing between his toes. In this way, on barefoot, he walked through his memory again.
The way Flint Lopez spoke was close to Oliver’s. Except for when he drank or slept, the leader of the Tin Soldiers kept confiding in the darkness constantly, either humming songs that didn’t sound natural but were still pleasant to the ears…
[You spread the flames in my world, that painful sweet brilliance. I will follow you through the ruins and smoke. Sandra, Sandra. Will you shed a tear for me like the dew glistening on my tombstone?]
Flint Lopez didn’t seem to know what fear was. His voice was smooth and cheerful. It was just that the palms of his hands were cold and soaked in sweat.
At the beginning, he only felt that the human attitude was quite positive and his strength was impressive, just like examining an object.
[It’s too quiet here; it’s so quiet that people panic.]
Flint’s most negative thing was just this sentence, which he said in a joking tone.
Now that he thought about it, holding the hand of a monster and walking in the vast and desolated darkness, he didn’t know the destination with a party that he didn’t know if he could trust, but he still had to move forward for the sake of love and responsibility…
What kind of fear would that be like?
Nemo stretched out a hand, and the long five fingers belonging to a human were extremely pale and covered with blood under the dim lighting. He unconsciously sighed softly and then moved forward.
[Aren’t you afraid?] He once asked Flint like this.
It wasn’t out of sympathy; half in earnest to get an answer, and half to give the other party the inducement that “he could empathize”. At that time, he coldly collected information and observed the negative effects of the emotion “fear”, even if he had never tasted fear himself.
[My lover and companion are still waiting for me—I am so happy; I will definitely survive!]
Flint Lopez, at the time, replied like this, full of confidence in his words.
Nemo pursed his lips and looked at the monstrous pile of corpses on both sides of the passage. Countless shriveled and cloudy eyes hadn’t had time to close. Frosted entrails were stacked on the sand. A deformed giant mouth was cracked by external forces and the fangs were as uneven and dense as a tombstone cluster. The Flint Lopez in his memory was strong enough to be able to detect these things.
What kind of mood was that human in to give such an answer?
In the past, he had failed to understand, but now that question had returned to him after decades of drifting in the void.
Aren’t you afraid, Nemo Light?
Fear never left, he replied to himself. Now Nemo was worried that his trust had failed, resisting the arrival of death and fearing that Oliver Ramon would die before they met again.
He was terrified.
But he still decided to believe in Oliver Ramon, and this decision would not change. Right now, Nemo was convinced that if a decision couldn’t even make him feel scared, the decision itself wouldn’t be of much value.
The same was true of trust, which was originally the weight he personally chose to carry.
He thought to himself that fear wasn’t a bad thing. Fear meant that he still had cherished things that could be lost, and he still had things worth guarding.
After all, feelings were nothing more than a kind of weapon. It just depended on whether the blade was facing oneself or the enemy.
The bones in the fine sand could no longer pierce his skin, but Nemo could still feel them with the soles of his feet. He didn’t know how long he walked, but after arriving at a gentle sandy slope, Nemo stopped. The voice in his memories sounded again…
[I see the light of my team! Thank you very much, kind wanderer. I don’t know how to express my gratitude, so I’ll give you this. If you have the opportunity to go to the surface, you can find me with this, and we can talk about it then.]
Flint Lopez gave the gold pendant to him, and Nemo did bring it to the surface, but they had missed each other. Flint took him to Roadside Town, and after that they didn’t have much interaction.
Except for the day Flint died, Nemo’s last memory of the innkeeper was in the small library with the smell of paper rolls.
[Don’t work so hard. Let’s buy some candy for the little ones at the Light family.]
They never knew anything about each other.
It was such a shame.
Nemo subconsciously touched his empty chest with his left hand because of the loss of the pendant, and the end of the blood-stained staff poked into the fine sand. A few thousand meters away was the end of the memories…
Here he personally destroyed the Tin Soldiers Regiment Group, killed Ann’s brother, and killed the Hero he had dreamed of.
Nemo lowered his gaze.
The emotions of sorrow and regret were still there, but after gaining insight into everything, the guilt that seemed to crush him before had reduced a lot. Long memories wrapped them all in and finally turned into solemn and quiet respect.
This was no longer a simple source of intelligence; feelings made his calculations complicated and unstable.
After all, apart from position and purpose, there were still many things worth stopping for. The pale humanoid Demon King bowed his head slightly and solemnly saluted the long-abandoned battlefield.
Respect his opponent as well as himself. Respect the irreversible past, respect the future that wouldn’t be repeated.
After the ceremony, Nemo squatted down and pressed one hand on the ground.
First there was a little light, then the entire blue sky. The top-level illusion was activated again. A Roadside Town full of sunshine but empty of people appeared at the bottom of the Abyss, swallowing the desolated battlefield, and he himself was standing in the familiar library, next to the old wooden table, with the false sunlight passing through the branches in front of the door, casting patches of light on the dark wooden tabletop.
Pulling away from the highchair in the fantasy, Nemo leaned his staff against the wall and sat firmly at the table. There were still a lot of books piled up on the table that had been returned to their place. He picked one casually. The text on it was no different from what he remembered.
It was just that there were no human voices.
Nemo didn’t create false pedestrians this time. Not because he didn’t want to do this, but simply because he couldn’t do it. He stretched out his hand for the second time, and an illusion resembling Oliver Ramon appeared at the door of the library. Unfortunately, only the body shape was similar, and his face was extremely blurred.
Of course, he remembered Oliver’s facial features, but the sense of incongruity was always present, and he always felt that the illusion he created was missing something crucial. Nemo retracted his hand and turned the pages of the book in his hand again. The illusion twisted for a moment before gradually dissipating.
After the phantom dissipated, Nemo’s gaze lingered meaninglessly in the void for a few seconds.
For some reason, the sunny scenery in front of him made him sadder than the terrifying pile of corpses.
Nemo couldn’t name the emotion stuck in his chest at this time. It was warm and heavy with sharp thorns, making his breathing fast and urgent. After a moment of contemplation, he tried to tug at the corners of his mouth, showing a smile that no one could see.
There was no pain that made it impossible to breathe, no heartbreaking sorrow, but a few drops of transparent liquid fell on the page. When he saw them, he realized that his cheeks were moist.
During the long and quiet journey, Nemo seriously considered the possibility of going directly to the surface for a while, but if he pushed down that fence, countless superior demons would definitely take the opportunity to invade the surface and completely destroy everything. But if he used the old method, he had to use an external force to close his cognition, but this time, no one would take his head away.
A solution hadn’t appeared so far, and every path led to a miss and destruction.
For as long as he could remember, Oliver had always surprised him. Perhaps with all his computing power, he couldn’t guess the next move of this ordinary lover, just as he couldn’t figure out what kind of expression Oliver, on the surface, had right now.
…Please surprise me one more time, Ollie.
The Demon King didn’t cast a cleansing spell. He wiped the blood stains on his hands with a handkerchief, wiped away the tears from the pages of the book, and continued to read the long-winded book describing forest herbs. If he ignored the unoccupied silence, the scene was warm and ordinary.
What was the second half of Flint’s song again?
“Beautiful Sandra, my beloved.”
He seemed to want to break the silence, recalling Flint Lopez’s voice. Nemo hummed softly in a careless manner.
“Are you waiting at the end of the road, watching my burning soul. I would like to give up the rest of my life to look at you one more time.”
The Central Church, The Holy Land, Hatfield.
Hamlin Elmer opened his eyes and looked at the sun that he hadn’t seen for a long time in shock. He shook his groggy head, struggled to get out of bed, and fixed himself on the floating chair. After repeatedly confirming that this was the first floor, Hamlin rushed out of the window directly.
There were two dragons collapsed in the yard. The blue dragon looked extremely weak. It lay on the ground, rolling its eyes vigorously, but it didn’t mean to move. The red dragon put its long neck on the back of the blue dragon and snored while sleeping.
The members of the Dragon clan hadn’t left yet. Hamlin swallowed and looked to the other side…
A stout black horse hung its head meekly, motionless. The leader of Tumbleweed was saddling the horse alone, with his back to him. Although his aura was a lot weaker, Hamlin was very sure that the knight was Oliver Ramon.
The other aura that had been accompanying him was nowhere to be found.
“Mr. Ramon!” Hamlin drove the chair forward and opened his hoarse voice. “I—”
His back was frozen for a while, then Oliver Ramon turned his face.
Hamlin stiffly held back the half-word he hadn’t had time to say.
The leader of Tumbleweed was in very bad condition.
In this church, Hamlin had seen countless negative feelings, but he wasn’t even sure whether the other party’s emotions were negative at the moment. It wasn’t despair caused by sadness, nor was it remorse, grief, or uncertainty. Oliver Ramon looked as if he was separated from the world. Those green eyes were indeed looking at him, but they seemed to be looking at a non-existent point in the void.
Hamlin couldn’t understand the other person’s emotions. Too many things were mixed, and he could barely find a feeling that he was more familiar with.
Mr. Ramon was smiling politely, but his whole being exuded a strange sense of loneliness.
“Hamlin.” The other party’s tone was very soft. “What can I do for you?”
“I… After we came out, the fanatics wanted to cause trouble for Mr. Cross. Something seemed to happen later, and I wasn’t very sober at that time. Is Mr. Cross okay?”
“Mr. Cross is still resting. He will be fine.” Oliver nodded. “As for what happened, you can ask the Preceptor Bishop. I submitted the mission report not long ago, and now he should have finished reading it.”
As he spoke, he took out a piece of horse snack from a small bag and carefully fed the black horse. The treat was a little too dry, and the shape wasn’t delicate; it seemed homemade. The black horse chewed in small bites and snorted cautiously.
“Um, okay.” Hamlin retracted his gaze. “I… I haven’t had the chance to say it. Now that my eyes are back, I’m not a member of the choir anymore. I want to thank you. Thank Tumbleweed—”
“My teammate told me that at a critical point, you provided Mr. Cross with mana. We should thank you.”
Oliver smiled and shook his head.
“About your legs… My teammate said that because they never existed, he can’t give you a new pair, but you can go to a necromancer named ‘Medes’. He may have other ways. I have already written down his location and put it in a black envelope on your desk.”
“Thank you, I’ll be sure to pay him a visit! Having said that, where are you going?” Hamlin tugged at his nightgown, which was completely unsuitable for formal conversation. He lowered his gaze a little blankly. He had lost his eyesight for too long, and even if he wanted to hide his embarrassment, he hardly knew where to look. “If you are not busy, would you like to visit my house? I think my brother will welcome you too—”
Not knowing if it had been too long since he had observed others, Oliver Ramon smiled again, a smile that was dull and tired when the sun was clearly shining so brightly.
“I’m very sorry, Hamlin. Some other time.”
The knight in black armor put away his horse snacks and looked in the direction of the gate, as if waiting for something.
Hamlin subconsciously followed the other’s gaze.
A middle-aged man in a uniform robe stepped into the backyard with the emblem of the jeweler Tristan’s family on his chest. He glanced at the two dragons in the yard, twitched his neatly trimmed beard, and barely maintained the stability of his expression.
“Your order, Mr. Ramon.” The middle-aged man bowed slightly and glanced at Hamlin a few steps away from the corner of his eyes.
“It’s okay, I don’t mind.” Oliver nodded at him.
The middle-aged man first took out the neatly folded parchment roll and quill pen from his pocket, and then took out a small box with a delicate design from his chest. He stamped the ring on the mechanism at the top of the box and drew a rather complicated array in the air, before the box clicked open.
“Your order: a pair of wedding rings.” There was well-trained politeness in that person’s tone. “The bill has been paid. This is the feedback contract of the Tristan family. In the next ten days, you can find someone to identify gems and materials. After confirming that it is okay, please sign here.”
Oliver looked at the pair of simple and generous rings inlaid with black gems. A few minutes later, he took the paper roll directly and signed his name.
“Thank you for your trust.” The middle-aged man raised his eyebrows quite unexpectedly and continued to recite his thanks in a well-trained manner.
Oliver nodded politely, and then never looked at them again. He seemed to have completely forgotten Hamlin and the middle-aged man, and even the two dragons. The young leader of Tumbleweed gently rubbed the pair of rings with his fingers, moving gently as if they would be melted by his body temperature.
After nearly half an hour, he remembered the existence of other people in the yard.
“…I’m very sorry, Hamlin,” Oliver repeated. He carefully put the box in his pocket and sealed it with a large array. “Another day. I… have something else to do.”
“Okay.” Hamlin moved his stiff neck and nodded vigorously. He tore his gaze back from the pair of rings, trying not to make himself look too curious. It seemed that Mr. Ramon was planning to propose in the near future. Since he has such sweet expectations, the loneliness and exhaustion that surround him may be just him seeing things.
“I wish you success. I—I mean the marriage proposal,” he added in a low voice, secretly glancing at the spire of the church in the center of his eyes. “Brother told me, Mr. Light, right? Praise Zenni. Uh, although it’s not appropriate to mention it here, but… but I hope you can be happy.”
Oliver turned over and got on the horse, squeezing the reins tightly. Excessive force caused his knuckles to turn slightly white and lose their blood color.
“We will,” he replied, still smiling. “…But first, I need to formally introduce him to my companions.”
He wasn’t seeing things this time, Hamlin thought in a daze.
No matter how he looked at that smile, it was extremely sad.
The author has something to say:
This arc is finished!!!
…The next arc is the last. _(:з”∠)_
Then there will be a few extras like this (^ρ^)/
What a heart-wrenching arc. Now everything has come together. There’s only one more arc after this and then a few extras. Below is the arc summary.
After Ann ascended to the throne, Tumbleweed temporarily split up while Ann got things in order as Queen of Alban. Nemo and Oliver went to investigate the Gatekeepers. With the help of Telaranea, they were able to find the Gatekeeper who transacted with Flint Lopez, who gave him a new arm and a cradle to save Oliver as a baby. In return, Flint gave him information that he found at the bottom of the Abyss.
Meanwhile, Jesse followed Adrian, who was idle as he tried to search for a being that he had some connection to in the past. Then they were summoned by the Pope. Per the contract signed, Tumbleweed was to act as escort to the Laddism Church reconnaissance team. It seemed that someone or something had sabotaged the teleportation gateways connecting the Abyss to the surface. The reconnaissance team had to journey into the Abyss to investigate, and Tumbleweed’s job was to protect them. Joining this team was also Godwin, who wanted to investigate Nemo Light, and Debby.
To test whether Nemo could return from the Abyss, they infiltrated the Mercenary Guild to send Pandorater back into the Abyss. Using Oliver’s newfound power, they were able to merge through the walls and free Pandorater and sent her back to the Abyss and were able to test that Nemo could return to the surface despite his current cognition.
Thus, the team gathered in Return Town, the city closest to the surface from the Abyss, and ventured down. During an investigation of the first teleportation gateway, it was discovered that the teleportation gateway was meddled with and that someone had changed the coordinates of it. The reconnaissance team then changed their goal to repairing the gateways.
Things seemed to go well until they reached the Gravity Maze and encountered Witherspoon, who Nemo had sent back in arc 2. Bagelmaurus stepped up to the plate and merged back with its original body and fended off Witherspoon, saving the team.
When the reconnaissance team reached the last two gateways, the team had to split up, with Nemo and Oliver going to the gateway closest to where the Demon King was, while Jesse and Adrian went to the hidden emergency gateway. Here we learned that it was Aurorae who had tampered with the gateways, trying to delay the future expedition.
Adrian and Jesse fell into a trap at the emergency gateway, and Jesse exhausted all his powers in order to save the team. The team was able to escape, but Jesse reverted back to his beast form, which now Arian realized was the being that he had been searching for all his life, because it was the being that saved him when he was young. However, the beast didn’t look human, and the people on the team immediately attacked it, using it as an excuse to really kill Adrian as they deemed him to be an apostate. Adrian defended Jesse and ultimately got killed. Jesse woke up and taught everyone a lesson, and it was finally revealed what everyone suspected. He was the “god” of the surface, and all surface creatures provided him with energy. Feeling bored, he took an interest in Adrian, who was the only single star in his starry sky that never wavered even the slightest. He wanted to see Adrian waver, but to the very end, he never did. Jesse, through some confounded feelings, gave Adrian a piece of his flesh and resurrected him.
Meanwhile, Nemo and Oliver’s team fell into a trap set by Aurorae. The trap was going to annihilate the entire team, so Nemo devised a plan. Oliver was to split the space in the Abyss and transport the team out, while Nemo stayed behind as the tether. Thus, the team was able to escape their impending death, but Nemo was dragged into the bottom of the Abyss, where he encountered the remnants of Ulysses.
Nemo and Ulysses had an epic battle in which Nemo emerged victorious. This was now where we learn the truth behind everything. The world in which Stray was set in was actually on top of a giant creature named the Pillar of the World. In the void (space), it found an empty space to curl up and sleep near the sun. Civilization then started to develop on top of its body, which became the surface. Along the way, a flying cocoon entered its realm and made a proposal. Having just one source of magic pathway would eventually lead to stagnation and less evolution, and there would be less information for the Pillar of the World to collect, which would be detrimental to its evolution, so if it gave the cocoon a little part of its energy source, the cocoon would create a new magic circuit in this world to advance evolution and civilization. The Pillar of the World agreed, and this is why there’s abyssal and surface magic/creatures.
At first, the Pillar of the World would reward the strong creatures who ventured into the Abyss with bone jade, but then realized that these creatures became greedier and kept wanting more, wanting to further dig into the Abyss for the bone jade. To deter them from harming it, the Pillar of the World took off a piece of flesh, which became the first “Demon King”. Now strong warriors would battle this Demon King and when its defeated, it would give out the bone jade, all while the Demon King would relay all necessary information to the Pillar of the World, keeping the balance in check and giving it more data for its growth.
It was about 1,000 years ago that the Pillar of the World learned of an organization called the Gatekeepers, which had the ability to create a new “God”. This scared the Pillar of the World, as if this new God was created, a new magic system would be born that would inevitably suck away the current system that provided the Pillar of the World (Nemo) energy. Not only that, both Jesse Dylan and Nemo had put limits on how much power a creature under their rule could ever have. With a new circuit system, there were no limits to what they could control, and this could eventually overtake Nemo and become the new master of this world.
Thus, Nemo devised a plan. Using the last Demon King (Ulysses), he convinced Flint to take his skull out of the Abyss so that Nemo could ascend to the surface without breaking the “law”. Nemo’s original goal was just to be the last reconnaissance for the Pillar of the World before it made the decision to fly into the sun and cause a huge catastrophe that would wipe out most of the life that was born on it in order to kill the potential new God that would eventually be born and could usurp it or move a bit to kill most of the surface.
Well, as we all know, things didn’t go as planned and Nemo set out on his own adventure. The Pillar of the World never regarded “emotions” as something necessary and even deemed them to be a weakness, so whenever it collected information, it would filter that out. Nemo finally learned the truth when he fell into the bottom of the Abyss and was flooded by all its memories, knowing now that he was the consciousness of the Pillar of the World, a piece of flesh that it threw off so it could do its investigative work, similar to how superior demons would throw their flesh off to reach the surface.
Now that Nemo had fully regained his cognition, he was now bound to the bottom of the Abyss by the law, while Oliver was still on the surface.
Hamlin Elmer, who was Oliver Elmer’s brother, worked as part of the choir. He was part of the reconnaissance team assisting the Laddism fanatics with spiritual sacrifice as he had ample magic but was born handicapped. He joined as part of the choir, but had his eyesight taken away per the contract until he completes his servitude or buys out his contract. With his help, he was able to provide Adrian some last-minute resistance before Jesse woke up and thus was spared from a disastrous fate. Now that Oliver Elmer was rich due to Oliver’s bet, he planned to leave the choir, buy back his eyesight, and get out of dodge from being a choir member.
Aurorae past was revealed. He was a lantern-blind bug born at the bottom of the Abyss. They are superior demons but with primitive minds. But he was special. He was born with intelligence but lacked legs and thus couldn’t move. Due to him being intelligent and different, he was abandoned by his own kind and left to waste away at the bottom of the Abyss. Ulysses at that time, was experimenting with ways to reach the surface and decided to nurture the abandoned Aurorae and gave him a name.
Aurorae mistook this “kindness” and considered Ulysses his father. He kept going to the surface and coming back to report it to his father, as he thought his father wanted to know more about the surface. Ulysses created Telaranea for Aurorae so he wouldn’t have to keep splitting off his flesh (which would have had a serious negative impact), but Aurorae refused to use it, so Ulysses considered Telaranea a failed experiment (which is why Telaranea had contempt for the Demon King). Ulysses also experimented with trying to split off his own flesh using the corewen flat snake (Bagelmaurus), as no other demon could handle a piece of his own flesh.
Aurorae thought his father wanted to see the beautiful surface. Thus, on his last trip to the surface, he became Aurorae the Demon Slayer to keep the world order intact so if his father ever got the chance to reach the surface, he could see the beautiful view as how it was. This was to atone for his “sin” for “abandoning” his father, as he feared going back to his dying body in the bottom of the Abyss, where he would spend at least a hundred years in the darkness as his body slowly rotted away.
Eventually, he found out who Nemo really was, and they had a heartwarming reunion, during which Aurorae passed away.
That’s it for the summary. My god, it’s really long, but there was a TON of information to unpack. I may have missed some important things, so let me know if I did.
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8 thoughts on “Stray Ch245”
This is awesome arc! Thank you for translating this novel
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Thank you for the chapters!
Thank you so much. This story has been a real highlight in my life lately. It makes me feel even when I just feel numb.
And you’ve done a fantastic job translating.
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This arc is so amazing,,,
This arc hurt
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oh haha.. we have one more arc? let’s do it, nothing can hurt me anymore (´°̥̥̥̥̥̥̥̥ω°̥̥̥̥̥̥̥̥｀)
My god that was one big chunk of arc. Love it!!