“So we’re fighting then?” Anmi abruptly cut off Gaiuz while adopting a combative stance. Having learnt from that painful lesson in Weiderly’s castle, Anmi decided to settled this mission as soon as possible. After all, his weakness was painfully apparent for all to see and in a war of words, his mouth cannon simply didn’t compare to his opponent’s.
As for me, I was inclined to agree with that decision as well lest Gaiuz pulled the marriage card like Weiderly. At that point, Anmi would undoubtedly turn on us again and we would have to go through another tragedy….
“Anmi, what are you so worried about, are you worried that I would bring up the matter of my sister’s betrothal to threaten you? Don’t worry, I won’t do that, would never in fact.” Ignoring the cat’s hostility, Gaiuz waved his hand dismissively and signalled for him not to overreact. “Honestly, that foolish brother of mine is truly clever with those petty tricks of his, to think he would even make use of our little sister’s happiness as a bargaining chip.”
“…” The moment the word betrothal left the Prince’s mouth, Anmi knew that things were about to fall apart. In an instant, his shoulders slumped over as if he was some kind of deflated kitty. “What are you trying to say here?”
‘Don’t tell me this is going to end in another marriage threat…that’s such an overplayed meme at this point!’
“What am I trying to say?” He repeated Anmi’s words before suddenly blowing his top a second later. No…it would be more accurate to say that he was extremely displeased as if he was looking at an annoying cockroach right now. “There’s no way you would ever be able to give my sister happiness, how would you even? Why…why did my little sister have to marry a cat like you?”
Anmi jaw fell wide open, clearly confused by what he just heard. Thus, Gaiuz repeated himself once more: “Why must little sister marry you? Why did that moron of a father have to marry her off to you?
“…that…it’s not like I wanted that either…” The moment Meisian was mentioned, Anmi immediately caved in as he had been severely wronged. Looks like that childhood trauma from the Elemental Segregation Platform was still fresh in his mind…just the mere possibility of having to step on it terrified him.
“Don’t want it? Are you saying my sister isn’t pretty enough? AHH! Which d*mned eye of yours made that call, I’ll toss it into the lava lake!” As he continued talking, the Second Prince gradually devolved from that well-mannered cat who gave off good vibes to an irate cat…truly a Jackal and Hyde situation we were witnessing right now…
‘Didn’t you just say that you didn’t wish for the two of them to have any relationship? So why are you acting so furious now that he specifically stated his aversion to that? What a conundrum…’
“Gaiuz, what are you trying to say here?!” By now, even the deflated Anmi knew to snap back given how much the Prince had just berated him.
“What am I trying to say?!” Gaiuz coldly harrumphed before saying: “Exactly what kind of dementia made that braindead old man of mine choose you? Isn’t it obvious that I’m a better choice for my little sister?”
‘F***, so that’s what this is all about, you’re just a damn Siscon…if your father were to betroth his daughter to you, then he would truly be mad.’
The moment the conversation moved onto siblings, the mood instantly turned awkward, especially for Sasani and Sinmosa who were suddenly struck by how small this world was…
“Ahem, Your Highness, please control your emotions.” Amidst the growing awkwardness, the previously silent Lohmi cleared his throat lightly to remind the Prince of his impropriety: “Your Highness weren’t you saying how you wanted to discuss a certain matter with Sir Anmi?”
“Mhm, that was rude of me.” Gaiuz straightened himself out and from his slightly elevated position, peered down at Anmi: “I know exactly what that foolish brother of mine is thinking right now, he wishes to force me out of this fight by using you, does he not? After that, he plans on using that marriage to handle our little Sister. Unfortunately for him, it never occured to his tiny little brain that I really had no reason to follow his plan at all.”
Speaking of brains, I couldn’t help but recall what Anmi mentioned the first time we met. Back then, I asked him why was he hiding in his territory catching mice while a civil war was ongoing. His answer then was a resolute: “Because they are all morons…”
Naturally, I had no way of understanding what he meant by that then, but now I did…those siblings were truly off their rocker…
“Anmi, I’ll give you two choices now, first, continue fighting me or two, help me.”
“…Gaiuz, I think you aren’t getting the picture here, we’re here to beat you up, why in blazes would I help you instead?”
“The one who doesn’t get it is you, Anmi. If my older brother triumphs over me, what do you think his next move would be? To sell you off. After all, you’re the only cat who played with my little Sister for an extended amount of time when she was young…nyah…I should just kill you…” As he said that, his Siscon mode started taking over once more.
Anmi, on the other hand, nearly choked on his own spit as he spluttered: “…Weiderly is going to sell me off to Meisian? To trade for her succession rights?”
“Of course he is! If it wasn’t for you, why would my little Sister even bother with the throne!” Gaiuz’s brows furrowed the moment those words left his mouth, a hint of hysteria flashing through his feline eyes at that very instant. “Why else would she if not for the privilege a Cat King has to pick their own mate!”
“That…how…why…would she go so far for me…” As if struck by lightning, his entire kitty face went pale as he stood there shellshocked.
“I’m not entirely sure about the exact details but still…I bet your brush with the Elemental Segregation didn’t go too well, right?” Ignoring the slightly crazed and mumbling Anmi, Gaiuz continued: “Well things are different now, as long as you help me seize the throne, my older brother can’t blackmail you and the moment I ascend, I will announce my marriage with Meisian!”
‘Another d*mned Siscon…’
With that in mind, my eyes unknowingly drifted towards Sasani. Knowing exactly what my gaze meant, all he could do was flash me an awkward smile but nothing more… ‘How boring…’
“I…understand…I’ll do as you say.” For sake of avoiding the platform, Anmi had no choice but to hang his feline head in shame and accept the Second Prince’s offer.
Now that he had caved in, Gaiuz then turned towards us outsiders with a thin smile: “A wise choice, as for you all…” While the rest of that sentence wasn’t spelled out for us, having gone through this exact situation once already, we were more than experienced enough to know what came next.
“I understand the situation as well…just proceed onto what we have to do…I need a way of entering Abaddon, whoever becomes the Cat King has nothing to do with me at all.”
Honestly, what else were we to do then? Scruples be d*mned, I say, it wasn’t like that was the first time we did so anyway. Since that unreliable traitor of a cat, Anmi, caved in with just a few words, there really wasn’t much meaning to any further obstinance on our part. After all, I wasn’t the first one to pull the trigger here, us devils were just innocent bystanders so why not just go with the flow.
“Very good, I do in fact know a way to enter Abaddon but I won’t tell you now; I will only do so once I ascend. For the following days, I’ll have to trouble you all to stay in my castle. I’ve already thought of a plan of action so I just need you all to cooperate. I plan on having a three-way negotiation between us siblings. At that point, I need you all to step in as outsiders and restrain the both of them. Once you do that, I can officially become the Cat King.”
Having laid out his plans, we were sent away soon after. Lohmi led us up up to the second floor of the castle where we found ourselves in an identical room; even the furniture inside our room was identical, down to its placement…
‘Even the gossiping cats are the same…all that nonsense about bipedal creatures…and not eating Ashen Fur Mice…even that feeling of being treated like a spectacle is the same.’
The moment Lohmi left us, we surrounded Anmi once more. This time, we said nothing but merely glared at him.
“You…you…let’s be clear here, anything but the face.” Surprisingly, he didn’t try to resist but merely covered his head with his paws and put up a defenseless posture.
Well, with all that fur on his face, I doubt anyone would notice the difference anyway.
“Forget it, it’s not like this is the first time…” Seeing how spineless he was at the moment, I truly couldn’t bring myself to get angry anymore: “Well, what are your plans?”
“Plans?” Anmi was stunned for a moment before saying: “Help Gaiuz become the Cat King, of course. What else is there to do but that?”
“Do you truly feel nothing for Meisian? Gaiuz said so himself, the only reason why she is even in this fight is because of you.”
“…don’t joke around, that platform isn’t as simple as you think. It will forcefully separate your element away from you…that feeling…those who had never experienced it before will never understand.”
In other words, he fully gave up…
‘Fine, for that reason alone, you betrayed us twice…not only that, each time we confronted you, you would put on that pitiful face of a victim as if you were even more innocent than us…how should I even deal with you? I can’t even think of any words to describe you anymore.’
Still hugging my neck, Mo Na immediately threw a jibe at Anmi: “It’s just a marriage, it’s not like she expects you to die.”
“You just don’t understand…that sensation…it’s worse than death…” Anmi sighed once more but didn’t argue back.
Perhaps it was truly as he said, the Elemental Segregation Platform was the most cruel form of torture in this world, but there was still something I had to ask: “Then does Meisian truly love you?”
Hearing that, Anmi opened his mouth to speak but just as he was about to say something, the words got stuck in his throat: “I…don’t know…I really don’t know…”