“Why is it everytime I visit, I find you two lazing about…” Anmi greeted the two guards with an unabashed tsukkomi you would expect from friends or close acquaintances.
“Sir Anmi, what are you doing here? Didn’t you say you wanted to stay away from this fiasco? Don’t tell me you’ve finally seen the light and decided to help Princess Meisian?” Replied one of the guards with an awkward smile. From the looks of things, this probably wasn’t the first time they were caught skiving.
Anmi gave a quick but discreet glance at Sinmosa before saying: “Well, the reason is…complicated, mhm. How about helping me send word to the princess first. Just say that I have guests with me.” As he said that, Anmi made a show of how important his position was in the clan. “Carry on then, my affairs aren’t to be delayed.”
In the midst of all that, Anmi continuously winked at the guardcat.
“Sir Anmi, what’s the matter? Your eyes keeps on blinking so quickly, is there something stuck inside?” Asked the silly guardcat, clearly not getting the intention behind his actions.
“No…it’s nothing…” Anmi’s body immediately stiffened.
I bet he really wanted to kill himself right now. Knowing him, he must’ve wanted to send some kind of secret message to those cats but they were too stupid to realize that. Truly, was a there any better phrase to describe this situation than ‘what’s scary isn’t an opponent on the level of God, rather it is the dumb-as-a-pig teammate who you should fear.’
‘Heh heh…maybe I should ask them in Anmi’s stead: “Does your family know that you’re this stupid?”’
“Just go!” With that howl, Anmi clearly ran out of patience for the two pig-cats.
“Alright, I’ll go report in.” The guardcat who replied then proceeded to jump over the castle wall… ‘Jump over the wall? Isn’t there a perfectly fine looking entranceway over there, why climb over the wall?’
I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why that guardcat decided to jump over the wall like that but judging by all the cat steps on the castle wall, it clearly wasn’t some kind of ability unique to him. As everyone knew on Earth, cats were extremely agile animal who could scale anything with a bit of effort; given that then, it wasn’t all that surprising to learn of their wall climbing ability in this world.
The walls and cat steps were all pitch black and if one wasn’t looking hard enough, he would most likely miss them entirely. That was why I didn’t notice it till now.
A short while later, that guardcat came climbing back over the wall, nimbly leaping off each step and covering the entire ten meters in mere seconds. Upon touching down, the guardcat greeted us: “The Princess has decided to welcome you all personally, please enter the castle.”
“Just pass through that hole and you’ll reach the main hall for receiving guests.” Anmi gave a gentle leap, climbing over the greater half of the castle wall before we even had to chance to react to his words.
Seeing that, the two Cerberus glanced at each other after which Sinmosa asked: “Should we enter?”
“Yeah, after all that trouble it took us to get here, there’s no way we’re leaving empty handed.” I nodded my head and then took the first step ahead of the group.
“Wait for Mo Na, Mama…” Mo Na rushed off with Cinderel in tow, following closely behind her were No.3 and Big 4.
Seeing that we had all left, Sinmosa gave a helpless glance at her husband before following closely in our footsteps.
As we continued walking through the hole-like entrance, Sinmosa spoke up as if talking to herself: “Strange, why would the Purgatory Shadowcats not use this entrance? Is it just a force of habit?”
With regards to that question, I had previously given it some thought as well but soon tossed it aside. After all, we weren’t some researchers studying the habits of Purgatory Shadowcats; such mundane matters really didn’t matter at all.
“Haha, they really entered it.”
“Ahahaha, they entered the hole, they entered the hole…”
Not long after we stepped into the entranceway, the ominous sound of cat laughter came echoing from behind us. ‘Exactly what did they mean by ‘entered the hole’? This is clearly the main entrance don’t cha know.’
The first thing we saw upon entering the castle was a field of black grass and some strange trees formed of rock. Right ahead was a two hundred meter tall, three-storied stone structure that was both wide and long, almost like those universities from Earth. From a distance away, the joined structures seem to form a prone ‘T’.
There, Anmi stood waiting for us at the entrance of the first floor. This time, it was a normal looking entranceway with a couple of stone doors and a door frame.
“You…took the hole, I see.” Seeing us approach, he took the initiative to receive us with a wide grin on his face.
“What are you smiling about?” For some reason, that smile of his gave me the creeps.
“Oh, nothing.” He looked left and right before continuing: “Alright, since we are all here, let’s go see the Princess then, the faster we meet her, the faster I can return to my land.”
“We’ll see about that.” Ever since we stepped into the castle, that fellow, Anmi, seemed to be acting a little strange… ‘Best not let him get ahead of himself right now.’
The moment we stepped into the building, we found ourselves in a hallway decorated with a bunch of strange ornaments like fish skulls, dried fish tails and even growing Meowberries. From time to time, we would come upon pools of lava ten meters square in size. Within its crimson liquid, I spied the familiar silhouette of Flame Devouring Fishes. ‘Were they there for decorative purposes as well?’
The entire hallway took us roughly five minutes to traverse after which we found ourselves in a vast hall where Princess Meisian sat.
If I had to describe the hall, it had all the exoticness you would expect from a different race. The ceiling was at least five meters high with a bunch of ropes hanging off it. Each rope had a complete set of fish bones attached to it. Was it decorative as well? Or was there some other purpose I didn’t know of…
The entire hall was devoid of anything table-like or even chair-like, instead there were cushion pads on the floor that were meant for sitting, probably.
Princess Meisian sat quietly atop a black platform close to the wall. Unlike the Purgatory Shadowcats, her fur was completely pitch black; only her eyes weren’t black, being golden instead. Moreover, her body was extremely petite, resembling more of a normal housecat than anything.
Next to her platform were several platters, one bearing Meowberries, one bearing some kind of dark red fruit juice, another bearing Flame Devouring Fish meat while another contained a serving of barbecued Ashen Fur Mouse. Seated there with delicacies at her side, was there any clearer sign of her position than that?
Other than Princess Meisian, there were ten other cats who were probably bodyguards. Unlike those two guardcat at the entranceway, they were noticeably more lively. If I had to guess, they were her personal guards, kind of like the Forbidden Guardsmen of ancient China.
“Your Highness, Anmi has come bearing several friends, they wish for your Highness’s aid.” While he might have been rather dismissive of this Princess, he at least knew to keep his head down in front of the person herself and show the expected etiquette.
Meisian lazily scratched her head with a claw before speaking in a slow drawl: “So even you knows how to return…after ignoring all those summons I sent out, what changed your mind all of a sudden?”
“…” His face stiffened after which he muttered in a slightly exasperated tone: “Your Highness, we have guests…”
Before he could even finish speaking however, the Princess curtly cut him off: “So what if we have guests? Just because we have guests, I can’t scold you?”
“…yes yes yes, Your Highness is always right.” Fearing any further loss of face, he wisely chose to shut up instead.
‘Speaking of which, this Princess of theirs is rather forthright, how interesting. I bet Anmi finds her boorish instead.’
“Hmph, since there are guests here today, I’ll let you off the hook for now. You’d better be grateful for the magnanimity I showed today, got it?” Seeing Anmi cave in like that, she instantly felt a sense of satisfaction and smugly harrumphed at the poor cat before turning to us: “So you’re the guests that potato, Anmi, spoke of?”
While that wasn’t the most courteous of greetings, I fully intended to show her my friendly side.
I took a step forward and with my left hand behind my back, I bowed, right hand placed at my chest. That, right there, was the greeting used by male aristocrats which I learned from reading mangas: “Greetings, Your Highness the Princess, My name is Mo Ke, a devil who had just come from the Prison of the Dead. My original destination was Abaddon but due to some unfortunate accidents, I ended up in Purgatory instead. I’ve long heard of the Shadowcats and their vast knowledge, thus I come bearing an audacious request. I hope that you will impart upon me the knowledge of how to enter Abaddon, this lowly one would forever be in your Highness’s debt if so.”
“You wish to know the method of entering Abaddon?”
“That’s right.” I smiled as I looked her in the eyes. However, I ended up having to endure several seconds of silence before receiving an answer; perhaps she didn’t find my formal greeting to her liking?
“Why should I help you?” Princess Meisian lowered her head and took a sip of her fruit juice before taking a bite of Ashen Fur Mouse meat. Mouth still chewing, she spoke in a slightly garbled voice: “How would it benefit me if I were to help you?”
‘Come to think of it, I don’t really have anything to offer her…but still, aren’t you a princess? Is it really alright for you to be so utilitarian?’
Seeing me stay silent for so long, she suddenly changed the topic: “Oh right, how did you guys enter the castle?”
“The main entrance of course.”
‘Where else but the main entrance? Don’t tell me they expected us to climb the wall like cats…’