Perhaps it was because I was a little too engrossed in my worries and ended up showing them on my face, Mo Na who seemed to have picked up on my mood, and was busy hugging my neck while gingerly asking: “Mama, why are you frowning?”
To avoid worrying her any further, I forced out a smile before lightly kissing her on the forehead: “It’s alright, it’s just that there are some matters your Papa can’t figure out, the more he thinks about them, the more engrossed he becomes.”
“What’s worrying Mama so much?”
“Nothing important, sweetie, don’t worry, your Papa is fine.”
While the changes in her body concerned me, that much was certain, there was nothing I could really do about it at the moment except to continue observing her. Fortunately, the Grimoire didn’t seem to want to hurt her, I just hoped that remained true for the future as well.
After having that little chat with Mo Na, Sinmosa and the others returned from their foraging. Their harvest wasn’t bountiful, merely five fruits were handed to me by Sinmosa using her mouth. At the same time, Big 4 handed over four fruits they picked from their side.
While nine fruits might not have sounded like much, considering this was Purgatory, such a harvest honestly wasn’t that bad.
I handed over the fruits to Mo Na before instructing her thusly: “Keep the fruits in your little box for now, those are for Cinderel so don’t try and steal them.”
“Hmph, like I would even.” Mo Na carefully stowed the fruits.
Having settled that matter, our group continued eastward in search for the Purgatory Shadowcats. Because we were still in the outermost regions of their territory, the cats we would most likely encounter would be solitary ones, two at the very most. In some sense, it would probably be more accurate to say that we were hoping some adult cat would stumble on us, rather than us stumbling on them.
Thus, while we travelled through their lands, we took extra care to observe our surroundings. Whenever we encountered those dark red strawberries, we would naturally stop to harvest them.
Other than plants, the lands of the Purgatory Shadowcats had lava lakes as well. However, they were noticeably smaller and shallower; creeks would probably be a more apt name for them.
Within those bodies of lava, there were traces of Flame Devouring Fishes. There were however, quite a number of Demon Flame worms. Moreover, judging by the depth of these ‘lakes’, I highly doubted any Demon Fire Salamander would even be able to live in them.
For now, those were our basic food sources. The worms became our main food source while the fruits we harvested were all handed over to Mo Na for safekeeping. Whenever Cinderel got hungry, she would head over to find Mo Na for those fruits.
For the most part, hellhounds were meat lovers, while they were able to consume souls as well, those were more of snacks to them; it was fine if they had them, but it didn’t matter that much if they didn’t. Because of that, the majority of the souls we harvested ended up being consumed by Mo Na and I. As for Cinderel, she ended up joining us in the Soul Squad as well because of her unique constitution.
Just as we were munching on our respective food sources and wondering how long more it would take for us to encounter a Purgatory Shadowcat, a black and red shadow came speeding right at us from a distance away.
First to react were Sinmosa and Sasani, who until not too long ago, were chewing on worm meat. The couple warily glanced in the direction of the approaching figure and howled.
Before the shadow even entered visible range, we heard a piercing cat meow. However, thanks to its lightning speed, I still wasn’t able to visibly discern what kind of creature it was; not that it was even necessary anymore since that meow=– gave me all the information I would ever need.
The Purgatory Shadowcat standing before us resembled a normal cat except it was a lot bigger. It had a mostly black coat of fur that had red patterns streaking all around. As for its size, it was roughly the size of an average Chinese dog, moreover, its eyes were golden yellow. However, because it was furious right now, those beautiful pupils were marred by streaks of red instead. It opened its mouth and howled, showing off a couple sets of razor sharp teeth in the process. The fur on its back stood up simultaneously as if to show exactly how angry it was right now.
“Grrrrrr!” Naturally not one to take such a provocation lying down, Sinmosa and Sasani immediately put up an aggressive front as well. Yet even though the two of them were noticeably bigger than that cat, their stature seems almost diminished in comparison.
The Purgatory Shadowcat in question clearly didn’t like the hellhounds either. Its angry hissing didn’t stop for a second as it arced its back and circled the hellhound couple. Moments later, its pressure wave came rushing out in full force, forcing the couple to retreat a few small steps back. Because Sinmosa and Sasani blocked the majority of its pressure for us, we were mostly left untouched.
“Sinmosa…can you communicate with it?” Seeing as we were the ones seeking their aid here, I didn’t want to get into a fight right away with a Purgatory Shadowcat. Thus I made sure to remind Sinmosa not to act rashly, if possible, I wanted them to communicate with words instead of claws.
“Devil?” Finally noticing us, the Purgatory Shadowcat made the conscious switch to the tongue of the devil. “Impossible…there are actually devils still alive in the Remnants of Sable Radiance?”
From its tone, I could clearly sense the shock it felt towards our mere existence. However, was it really to be blamed for that? After all, the devils all disappeared 80 000 years ago and this entire region was sealed up for some unknown reason.
“Don’t be surprised…even though I find it hard to believe myself…” Thankfully, the Purgatory Shadowcat standing before us knew how to speak the tongue of the devil despite what it just said. Given that they had the ability to Dreamwalk however, that really wasn’t anything to be surprised about.
In order to facilitate communication between us, I smiled gently and took several steps forward till I was merely five meters away from the Purgatory Shadowcat. I opened up my arms as a show of peace and said: “Please don’t be alarmed, the only reason we are here is because…”
“I don’t care if you’re a devil or a hellhound, all I know is that you all are a bunch of despicable thieves so die!” Without even allowing me to finish my sentence, the cat viciously swiped at me; it clearly didn’t intend to be reasonable at all.
“Watch out.” Sinmosa and Sasani rushed out from my flanks to shield me.
The two dogs clashed with the cat in all out brawl amongst the grass. Although the two hellhounds were significantly bigger than the cat, and although they had the numbers advantage, they still didn’t seem to be able to come out on top in this melee.
“Blast it all, you all actually dare to gang up on me?! D*mned thieves, trash! Stupid dogs!” As it hurled insult after insult at us, it backpedalled furiously while dodging the double-pronged attack from Sasani and Sinmosa, at times throwing a couple of swipes of its own.
Perhaps it was because of its superior abilities or perhaps because Sinmosa and Sasani didn’t wish to deal a killing blow, the Purgatory Shadowcat managed to successfully escape from their encirclement.
Taking advantage of that, I tried to reach out to it once more, hoping to calm it down in the process. “We aren’t thieves. We come here,with sincerity in our hearts, in order to seek the aid of the scholarly Purgatory Shadowcats…”
Unfortunately, before I could even finish that sentence, a huge surge of mana burst forth from the feline figure.
“A thief is a thief, don’t try to cover up your despicable ways!”
Having pulled away from us far enough, it began channelling an enormous amount of mana infused with the elements of fire and shadow. As the flames roared to life on the cat’s body, their crimson brilliance fed the strange snaking shadow beneath the cat, causing it grow ever bigger and ever more terrifying.
Those flames were most likely born out of some novel usage of the fire element. Compared to that however, what truly grabbed my attention was that seemingly autonomous shadow…the way it wriggled about reminded me of my own Shadow Guardian.
“Be careful, it’s able to cast two types of elemental magicks at the same time.”
Having evolved into the Purgatory Shadowcats, these felines naturally picked up the fire element as well. However, that didn’t mean that they had completely forsaken their shadowy nature either. Instead, their shadow element fused together with their newfound fiery powers, giving them even greater offensive capabilities.
“Mama, are you all right?” Mo Na reached out to grab me, all the while hugging Cinderel close to herself. “That kitty is dangerous, Mama.”
“Master, please stay behind us.”
“Hold on, stop fighting for a while.” I squeezed my way through No.3 and Big 4, walked up to the center of Sinmosa and Sasani before calling out to that cat: “That Purgatory Shadowcat over there, Mister Shadowcat, is your name Anmi?”
“Despicable thief, you actually know of my name?” The Purgatory Shadowcat was stunned for a moment before becoming even more furious: “Since…since you know of my name, you still dare to steal my things. You all are trying to provoke me, aren’t you?!”
‘That dumb cat probably has its stupidity level maxed out…I don’t think we can even communicate with it.”
“Hey, that big kitty over there, you keep saying we’re thieves, then how about telling us exactly what it is we stole?” Mo Na flew up to my shoulders in an angry huff, stood right up, cupped her hands around her mouth like a makeshift loudhailer and yelled: “Don’t tell me you’re trying to slander us?!”
“D*mnable thieves, how could us noble Shadowcats ever stoop so low as to slander someone else?!” Anmi turned his angry gaze onto Mo Na before yelling at the top of his lungs: “The stolen goods are right on your person, don’t even try to deny it!”
‘Somehow I think I know where this is going already…’
That mention of stolen goods being on us immediately reminded me of a certain activity we partook in since entering this region: harvesting fruits. It just so happened that said fruits were on Mo Na right this very instant…
Naturally, if I could figure this out, so could Mo Na; she wasn’t a moron after all. Opening up the tiny box at her waist, she picked out two dark red fruits and then twiddled them around her fingers before smirking at the cat: “Are you talking about these?”