“What do you mean huh? How many times do you want me to repeat myself? It doesn’t count if you bite yourself! What a bother, I swear there’s nothing I hate more than having to say the same thing twice.”
“Blast it all, but I’m clearly injured, why aren’t you protecting me…” Having his request rejected so directly, the Eldest Prince looked more like a little brat who felt wronged than a cat prince. Not satisfied with the treatment he received, he yelled at the mysterious room: “Get out here and help ! If I lose my succession rights, where do you think you lot will stay? Who else will provide you all with such luxuries?”
“Oh, that’s easy. Even if you fall, there’s still your sister and little brother, don’t tell me they can’t afford to provide us?” Even though I still hadn’t had the chance to catch a glimpse of this mysterious cat, I couldn’t help but picture him as an utterly shameless kitty, someone(cat) that truly desired to be punched.
“Besides, ever since you grew up, you just keep getting less and less adorable by the year; Meisian is just so much cuter compared to you. I say, how about you just give up already, honestly, I’ve thought about moving out of this dump for a while now.”
“That’s right, that’s right, little Meisian is the cutest, she loved clinging to me the most in the past, nyah” Came the voice of another elder.
“You rotten cat, she likes clinging to me more!” A different elder exclaimed.
Fourth elder :“No, that’s me, nyah!”
“Despicable, after all I’ve done for you freeloaders, you guys actually chose to abandon me the moment I’m in trouble…”
Ignoring the Eldest Prince’s howl of grief, the first elder spoke up once more in a lazy drawl: “Anmi, you guys can just take your time with this little chat of yours, even if that little brat chews himself to death, we won’t step out so don’t worry.”
Based on that conversation, I was pretty sure that Weiderly was at the end of his road already. However, I still had to say: ‘These so-called elders…don’t tell me they are all a bunch of morons as well?’
With that promise from the unknown elder not to interfere, Anmi was a lot more relaxed as he turned to face the Eldest Prince, a slight smile plastered on his lips: “Well then, Your Highness, about what we were discussing before…”
‘Guards, check; elders, check. Yup, that’s all the obstacles gone now; I just can’t imagine how this Eldest Prince even has the slightest chance of a comeback anymore. I guess this marks the end of our quest then, once we get the verbal confirmation we need, I can find out how to enter Abaddon.’
In the face of Anmi’s vice-like pressure, all Weiderly could do was flash him a very awkward smile: “About that, Anmi…I think we should sit down and have a good talk instead?”
“I don’t think there’s anything left for us to discuss. Furthermore, with all your trump cards spent, why do I even have to bother with such a hassle?”
“That devil over there…the fact that you’re helping my little sister must mean that she promised you some kind of reward…that’s why you’re here, right? How about this, I’ll double whatever she promised you, no TRIPLE! So how about delaying this Anmi over here for me? As long as you help gain the crown, I’ll give you even more benefits.”
‘Hmph, to think he actually managed to unearth this tiny glimmer of hope after all the pressure we put on him…’ I quietly thought to myself. Truly, his ploy was a rather ingenious one. Devils were basically the representation of deceit and betrayal however not everyone was so. Take for example, No. 3 and Big 4, they’d never betrayed me, not even once, for now at least…The two of them were still perfectly loyal subordinates…once more, for now at least…
“I’m sorry but I don’t have a habit of betraying others.”
“Is my reward too little? I’ll give you five times then…TEN! Ten must be enough, right?!” Grasping at straws, the prince threw me an almost pleading look as he said that. In his mind, I was probably some kind of messiah right now…the one devil who could possibly save him. It was almost ironic the way I somehow became his one and only hope at a comeback despite the fact that I was here to beat him up.
“My words are priceless, once a promise has been made, I intend to see it through to the end. Even if I’m unable to accomplish it, I’ll still do my best.” As the saying went, ‘Do unto others what you would have done unto yourself’, there was no one who liked being betrayed, me included.
“…d*mn it, why did I have to meet a devil with such scruples!? Don’t tell me those legends were lying?” Seeing that I was no longer a workable avenue, he immediately shifted his target: “Those two Cerberuses over there, if you will help me take down Anmi, I’ll award both of you a piece of land. Once I become the Cat King, I’ll confer a position second only to me –all the cats in this world will be beneath you save for one! Aid me, I’m sure defeating Anmi is easy for you two.”
“…I’m sorry, we only listen to Mis–Mister Mo Ke.” Having said that, she glanced at me to show who was she referring to.
“…” Finally out of options, the beaten prince slumped to floor in despair. It was the kind of posture where one’s neck, back and belly all faced the ceiling. For animals, showing one’s belly had a multitude of meanings from trust, acting cute, servitude and admitting defeat. As of right now, he was probably admitting defeat.
“Since you’ve made that gesture, I take it you’re giving up your succession rights then. With the Elders’ Consortium as my witness, I believe Your Highness won’t go back on your word.” As he said that, Anmi turned his eyes towards the room where the elders hid themselves. “Elders, if you’ll be my witness.”
“Mhm, since Weiderly has give up, then as the representative of this Elders’ Consortium…”
‘I guess this is it then. Since the elder has spoken already, I doubt he can do anything else. How lucky, this quest ended up being even easier than I’d thought.’
“Hold it, who said I’m giving up!” It was at that moment when everyone assumed the prince was defeat that he suddenly stood back up and resumed his upright and orderly posture.
Seeing him act in such an odd manner, Anmi couldn’t help but furrow his eyebrows in unease. He stood stunned for a couple of seconds before asking: “Your Highness, your trump cards are all spent and still you wish to fight?”
Anmi’s words were essentially the same as before but this time however, the Prince wasn’t that dejected cat we dealt with before. He had regained his regal bearing and confidence as he stared right into Anmi, lips curling into a devious smile. “Who said I have no more cards to play, don’t you remember? Right when you first came in, I brought up that matter about your betrothal to my sister…”
“…you…what are you trying to say…” The winds had taken a sudden change; from Anmi pressuring the Prince just moments ago, the scene now played out in reverse as the hunter now became the hunted.
“Do you still not understand? Don’t play dumb with me, I know you know what I’m talking about.” The moment Anmi’s eyes started to waver, Weiderly knew he had made the right bet. With that cryptic answer, Anmi was instantly bathed in a cold shower of his own sweat…
“…Your Highness, if all you wish to do is joke around, then…”
“Haha, who’s the one joking around here? If you are really dead set on making me give up, there’s honestly nothing I can do about it, that’s assuming you really want to of course…the moment you dare to do that, I’ll immediately set off to see my little sister and tell her about the betrothal our Royal Father set up before his death…at that time…nyah hahaha…”
“…are you that heartless?”
“What do you mean heartless? You forced me into this. Besides, you’re ten times more vicious than me, what right do you have to point fingers at me?!” As he said that, he lifted up his bitten paw and waved it before Anmi. Weiderly then guffawed and said no more.
The tables had turned: it was now the Prince who was doing the pressuring.
“Mercy…” Perhaps he was no longer able to endure the pressure, or perhaps he really did not want to marry the princess, either way, he collapsed to his knees with a resounding thud. “I beg you, don’t mention this to Meisian or else…I don’t want to live either…”
Finally, I couldn’t stand this scene any longer; the plot twist was simply too much for me to bear, in fact, I doubt anyone other than those two even knew what was going on!
“Hey, Anmi…exactly what are you trying to pull here?”
Turning around to face me, he spoke up in a voice as deep as the abyss and just as devoid of life: “I just don’t want to get married to Meisian, is that so wrong?”
On the surface, his request actually didn’t sound all that wrong at all…but this was a princess we were talking, what’s wrong with marrying a princess?
‘Don’t you know how many people dream of marrying a princess?! Are you dumb or have you just gone senile? Most people won’t even get such a chance in all eight of their lifetimes and yet here you are acting so unwilling?!”
“Don’t tell me that in the eyes of you Purgatory Shadowcats, Princess Meisian is the kind of cat who can cause blindness just by looking at her ugly face?”
“Rubbish! My little sister is more beautiful than any flower in this world, how could she be ugly!?” Before Anim could even answer, Prince Weiderly jumped in to defend his sister.
“You devils are the ugly ones here, that furless body of yours, those ears strangely situated at the side of your face and that bizzare nose…heck, even your teeth aren’t as sharp as ours…what’s worse is that you have no whiskers at all…”
“Hey, I’m talking to Anmi here, can you hold on for a second, Your Highness? I’m not done questioning him yet.”
“Oh, go ahead then.”
“…thanks for your cooperation.”
“No problem, you’re the guest here after all, such courtesy is only to be expected. As long as you don’t hate yourself for being ugly, it’s fine…after all, it’s not your fault that you were born ugly, it’s kind of your fault for coming out to scare others though…”
With regards to their sense of beauty, I truly had nothing to say…still, it wasn’t like I could not understand where he was coming from. We were from different races after all, it was only natural that we viewed beauty through different lens. I bet humans looked ugly in the eyes of pigs as well, not just cats…
“Since Meisian is an absolute beauty in your clan, then why aren’t you willing to marry her?”
For some odd reason, what was a discussion about the throne suddenly turned into marriage counselling in just the short span of two minutes…it almost seemed like I was reading some kind of gossipy forum right now. Even stranger had to be the fact that I was somehow a participant in this whole mess…well, who told me to be his companion. As his companion, I couldn’t just stand idly by and watch him get driven into a corner by Prince Weiderly. Besides, who knows what might happen if I let things proceed like this…
‘I’ll just counsel him for now, I just hope it’s not too late…’