For the mainly fire leaning Purgatory Shadowcats, the fire elements within them were an integral part of their body and purging them would harm their core well-being at best; at worst, it was a form of delayed suicide.
Having had to down a ton of nourishments in order to recover, Anmi learnt his lesson regarding that dastardly platform. It was then that little Anmi finally regretted crossing that uncrossable gully with Princess Meisian…
‘I guess the saying really is true then, a newborn calf doesn’t fear the tiger…a young one is a brave one…truly, was there anything kids didn’t dare to do?’
For the next two days, we spent our time resting in the Prince’s castle during which we gained a deeper understanding of the habits of the Purgatory Shadowcats. Simply put, they were all a bunch of crazy cats, end of story.
‘Never try to figure out what a cat is thinking, because the cat itself doesn’t know…’
Throughout those two days, we would often hear the random cat nyahaha(laughter) or two while we walked the castle’s stony hallways. The reason being that they found bipedal creatures highly amusing…furthermore, they would often critique our appearance as if we were some kind of rare creature. Just stepping out of our room placed us in the spotlight right away. At times, I wondered if we were really guests or just that new gorilla in the zoo.
Even though I clearly stated that Mo Na and I did not eat meat, the cat serving us food still did so anyway…When I confronted the cat bearing the platter of grilled fish and mice, the reason he gave me was this… ‘Why should I listen to you just because you said so? Won’t I lose face then?’
Other than that, there was still a whole list of exasperating experiences, all of which I had already given up on tsukkomi-ing. I guess that’s why insanity was often compared to the starry sky: You could see them but never understand them.
On the third day, Prince Weiderly invited us all to the great hall for an audience –most likely, it was time to act.
As we stepped into the giant hall, we found the Eldest Prince sitting atop his platform once more. Just looking at his sitting posture, I had to admit, he really had a regal bearing. Unfortunately for him, I had seen his depths; that d*mn potato was just a showboating moron. No matter how refined and regal he acted, his internal potato-ness would definitely sell him out.
“The reason I’ve called for you all here today is because the time has come…” Upon seeing us enter, the Eldest Prince stood up and immediately issued us the mission: “The battle will start soon, this time it will be a three-way battle with my moronic little brother participating as well. At that time, his defenses will be low. All you need do is charge in and just do what you did to me, to him. Remember, he must give up his succession rights!”
‘What the heck is do what you did to me, to him…’
Before leaving however, Anmi threw these last few, stern words: “Remember our deal, once we take care of Gaiuz, you aren’t allowed to threaten me with this matter!”
“No problem, it’s not like I want you to be my brother-in-law anyway.”
“That had better be so.”
Having settled that matter with Anmi, the Eldest Prince then turned his gaze onto me: “Once you’ve settled my foolish little brother, I’ll defeat my little sister myself. As for when I ascend to the throne, I’ll tell you the method to enter Abaddon so don’t worry. I keep my promises.”
“As you say.” I obediently accepted his order. What else was I to do then? For the sake of entering Abaddon, all I could do was try my best and complete this mission.
Just like that, our mission went from taking down Weiderly to taking down his little brother, Gaiuz.
Gaiuz’s castle wasn’t that far off from Weiderly’s, roughly a day of travelling was all it took for us to reach our destination. Along the way, we did in fact meet some of the Second Prince’s troops though we circled around them instead of greeting them.
“I honestly thought you would go up to them and grab a snack or something.” Frankly speaking, I expected Anmi, that sociable cat, to greet them and then ask for some barbecued Ashen Fur Mice. Instead, he took the initiative to lead us away.
“I already had something to eat at Weiderly’s, besides, I’m not in the mood to talk to those morons.” Having said that, we resumed our journey.
Upon reaching the Prince’s castle, we found ourselves staring…at another carbon copy of the previous two castles. That’s right, all three of them looked exactly the same, even down to the cat steps on the castle wall and that panelless hole…truly a strange phenomenon but real nonetheless…
Unlike our previous two visits however, not only were there two guardcats stationed at the castle entrance, there was also another Purgatory Shadowcat standing there waiting. The moment we entered his field of vision, that waiting cat revealed a smile on his face.
“Anmi, so you’ve really come…it’s been a long time, nyah.” Without giving us any time to react, he took the initiative to welcome us before warmly greeting Anmi. “Come then, His Highness is waiting for you all in the hall.”
“Lohmi, were you specifically waiting for us at the door?” Instead of reciprocating his warm greeting, Anmi instead voiced out that nagging question in his head: “Don’t tell me Gaiuz already expected us to come a long time ago?”
“That’s right, His Highness knew that you all would come so he had me stationed at the entrance.” Lohmi nodded at Anmi before smoothly turning his gaze onto me: “This must be Mister Mo Ke then, it has been a long time since the Remnants of Sable Radiance has seen a devil, you are probably the first we’ve seen.”
“I just so happened to end up here because of some misfortune.” Truth be told, the fact that our opponent sent someone to greet us was surprising…based on that, the Second Prince probably had spies implanted by the side of Weiderly…speaking of spies, those guardcats by Weiderly seemed a little suspicious…for them to fall asleep during a fight…
“Either way, I pray you would honor us with your presence, His Highness is most fascinated by your presence, come, let’s enter the castle.” Lohmi courteously extended his paw in welcome. Naturally, I wasn’t one to snub such politeness. What happened next however, stunned me. Instead of climbing over the wall, all I saw was him slowly walking into the entrance…in other words, the infamous ‘hole’ in ‘Cats climb the wall and Dogs crawl through the hole.’
Having taken a couple of steps, the cat realized that we weren’t following him at which point he merely smiled and repeated that same line from before: “His Highness is waiting for you all in the hall.”
“About that…aren’t you going to climb the wall?”
‘How should I say this, do I have to remind you what the hole means…’
“Ah, is that what concerns you, nyah.” Lohmi gave us a wry smile before proceeding to explain as such: “I assume this has to be the effect of that saying, ‘Cats climb the wall and Dogs crawl through the hole’. Truth be told, that saying wasn’t meant to belittle the other races but it ended up being misconstrued by my clancats over time. The real intention was to explain that each race had its own strengths and weaknesses and that we shouldn’t look down on them for that.”
“To think there’s such a maverick amongst the Purgatory Shadowcats…”
“Please don’t say that, those are actually the words of His Highness. His Highness even said that no matter how lowly a creature was, they all had their mission to fulfill in life. We shouldn’t look down upon it just because it is weak and neither should we cower in fear in front of the strong…” Judging by his tone, this cat was probably a diehard fan of Gaiuz. Throughout our short jaunt through the hole, Lohmi would constantly tell us about the Second Prince while not forgetting to throw in a praise or two.
‘Well, not like there’s anything really wrong with that, I’ll just take it as storytime.’
Another point to note was that unlike the other guardcats at the previous two castle entrances, Gaiuz’s guardcats were remarkably lively; they neither lazed around nor slept while standing guard.
‘For him to be able to whip those lazy cats into shape…this Second Prince must be a formidable character…’
Under Lohmi’s guidance, we quickly entered the guest hall where we found Gaiuz, just like his siblings before him, sitting on the Elemental Segregation Platform. As for his appearance, there really wasn’t much to talk about there…they all looked the same to me so I relied on my soul sensing ability once more.
“Your Highness, I’ve brought them in.” Upon entering the guest hall, Lohmi announced our arrival in a clarion voice.
At that, Gaiuz warmly nodded at the cat after which Lohmi smoothly made his way to the side of the Second Prince. It was then that I realized that there were no other guardcats beside Gaiuz other than Lohmi.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you all, guests from a distant land. My name is Gaiuz, one of the candidates for the throne of Cat King.” Unlike the regalness of Weiderly and the brashness of Meisian, Gaiuz’s demeanor instantly endeared him to me though it had to be said that I wasn’t sure why that was so.
“Gaiuz, I’m sure you know why we are here.” Not intending to beat around the bush at all, Anmi immediately jumped straight into business. “There are no guardcats here and our combined might is more than enough to defeat you. Also, don’t even think about relying on the Elders’ Consortium while I’m here.”
“Anmi, I see you’re still as direct as before. It has been a while since we last met, how about we have a chat instead.” Gaiuz calmly proceeded to say: “According to what I’ve gathered, you were supposed to help my little sister and yet you ended up as a tool arrayed against me by my foolish older brother. Truly fascinating…the way the world revolves so quickly…”
“Hmph, you’re still as long winded as before. Well I can’t be bothered to deal with all that…”
“I won’t give up my succession rights…”