Regardless of whether or not Anmi knew…time marched on. During those days we spent in Gaiuz’s castle, we mostly lazed around while the staff serviced us. Even though I specifically said that Mo Na and I didn’t want barbecued Ashen Fur Mice, the servings came unabated…even though my eyes clearly said that I didn’t want to be a sideshow, the kitty cats still continued circling around us…truly an unpleasant few days…
That was our experience with Gaiuz’s cats in a nutshell.
Roughly a week passed uneventfully like that till finally, Lohmi came looking for us with a message stating that the Prince wanted to meet us.
Even without that meeting however, I could roughly guess what he wanted to say: the meeting had been set and all the parties had agreed.
The moment we met, he said just that.
“My little Sister and that foolish brother of mine have agreed to the discussion. Even though we call it a discussion, it will probably end up as a competition between our armies in the end, with the final victor ascending. However…as they say, a little guile never hurt anyone, your mission is to hide in the Cat Nest I prepared for you and capture the two of them once the time is right.”
Having said all that, Gaiuz’s gaze couldn’t help but sweep over Anmi. Seeing the latter in such a distracted state, a flash of annoyance crossed his eyes after which Gaiuz glared at the cat. However, Anmi didn’t respond to that. “Sir Anmi, exactly what has you so enamored?”
That finally did the trick in catching his attention, but Anmi still wasn’t all that spirited as he said: “I don’t wish to see Meisian.”
“Don’t wish to? Fine, I don’t want my little Sister to see you anyway.” Gaiuz curled his lips further in annoyance and raised his voice: “At that time, I just need you to settle that foolish brother of mine, as for my little Sister, leave her to me.”
Gaiuz then waved his paws, signalling that we could leave.
Just like that, the basic premise was all set with Lohmi filling in the details as needed.
“His Highness usually isn’t like that. It’s just with matters concerning Her Highness, Meisian…he tends to get a little…heated, nyah.” As we walked out of earshot of the guest hall, Lohmi explained thusly in a slightly apologetic tone while walking alongside us: “Honestly, I can’t agree with His Highness’s behavior…I’m sorry, that was inappropriate of me, nyah.”
“It’s alright, we won’t tell.” Badmouthing one’s master as a servant was a taboo in an aristocratic society like this. In situations like that, a servant might have been dragged out and beaten to death but given that this was the Purgatory Shadowcats we were talking about, I bet the punishment would probably be something along the lines of no meals for a day…
Either way, we didn’t plan on ratting him out. Compared to Gaiuz’s irate behavior, Lohmi was a lot more likeable.
Having sent us back to our guest room, Lohmi left us, but not before saying: “Truth be told, His Highness’s behavior…isn’t appropriate…nyah…I misspoke again…” He then left in a hurry.
So exactly what behavior was he referring to? Naturally, he wasn’t talking about his master’s desire for the throne but rather it was the act of liking one’s own sister…I still clearly remembered Anmi mentioning that even the Purgatory Shadowcats frowned upon such a relationship between close relations…Sasani and Sinmosa must’ve wanted to bury all three of their heads when we touched upon that awkward topic…
Still, what did Lohmi mean by those words? For a close aide to speak like that…were there not restrictions against marriage between close relations?
Back then, Anmi only mentioned that the Purgatory Shadowcats weren’t capable of such acts. Those were rather non-committal words considering the issue in question. In light of that, I highly doubted that there was actually a complete ban on such behavior even though, being highly intelligent lifeforms, they naturally knew the dangers of doing so.
At least that was the conclusion I came to.
I had a million questions in my head right now but no matter how much I thought about them, I wasn’t going to get an answer so I finally decided to ask our resident expert instead: “Anmi, what did Lohmi mean by those words?”
With regards to that question, he raised his head and gave me a deadpan look that was somehow still infuriating even though I knew that he was merely depressed. “Lohmi is a female, don’t tell me you all didn’t realize that?”
“…well, you know…you Purgatory Shadowcats all look the same to me…besides I have difficulty differentiating faces…”
‘Hmph, I’ll forgive you for now since you’re down in the dumps. Looks like all that talk about Meisian really had a lasting effect on Anmi, but still…to think Lohmi is actually a female…awkward…sometimes this problem of mine just leaves me in such an awkward position.’
“What do you mean look the same, Lohmi’s fur is clearly more vibrant than mine and her body is more petite than mine too. Also, her scent is completely different from mine and her fur is a lot puffier. Besides, our faces are completely different, nyah! Did you even try looking at us! Don’t tell me you can’t tell us apart when we walk side by side?”
“I’m sorry, I’ve been using my sensory abilities to tell you two apart up till now…” I sheepishly smiled at him before saying: “You two really look so similar…”
“Hmph, you devils are the ones that look similar. I swear whenever I look at you lot, you all seem the same to me, especially that No.3 and Big 4 of yours. They might as well have come out from the same mold for all I know. Had it not been for my sharp nose being able to differentiate their scents, I would be the one having trouble instead!”
‘Fine…I guess this is what people meant when they say that foreigners all looked the same to them…sometimes, I could’ve sworn that those actors on the big screen were all the same people had it not been for their different clothes and hairstyles.’
“Hmph, Mo Na and Mama are the ones who look normal here! How dare you compare Mo Na to those ugly potatoes!” She then pointed her little finger at No.3 and Big 4 who were listening in on the conversation all this while. Ignoring how wronged they felt, how pitiful they looked or awkward it was for them, she then turned her finger onto Anmi’s snout before loudly yelling: “Cinderel, get him!”
“Ruff, ruff!” Upon hearing that, Cinderel immediately lunged at the cat, widdle teeth sawing furiously away at his thigh. She clearly wasn’t going to be able to hurt him but because Anmi was afraid of hurting the little puppy, he had no choice but to flee. Thus, the two ran around in circles while Mo Na flew behind, egging on the puppy throughout with a boisterous laugh…
Seeing the three of them horse around so happily, whatever displeasure we felt towards him gradually disappeared.
Thus, another few days passed by uneventfully and finally, the day of reckoning came when Gaiuz personally led us to the site. In the first place, the three castles were positioned roughly in the shape of a triangle so the site was naturally situated right in the center of all three castles. By travelling in a straight line, it roughly took the same amount of time from each castle to reach the discussion site.
Unlike the previous battles, this battle required a round of negotiations between the three siblings so they had to set off their armies this time around.
‘Ehh? Set off? Just as I reached the castle entrance, a thought suddenly occurred to me and I paused in shock.’
‘I thought the whole setting was that the Shadowcats couldn’t acclimatize themselves to the environment of Purgatory…so how are they going to leave that platform of theirs? This doesn’t make sense at all, I clearly remembered Weiderly staying on that platform no matter how much we pressured him…’
“Didn’t you say that the Shadowcats can’t live in Purgatory’s environment, so how is Gaiuz going to remain on his platform then?”
As they said, when in doubt, ask.
“…” However, the moment I said that, Anmi gave me a scornful look as if he was looking at an idiot. “Who ever said that the platform wasn’t mobile?”
“That thing…can move…?”
“Of course it can.” Anmi nodded his furry head before walking up to the entrance and saying thusly in a slightly exasperated tone: “Just see for yourself.”
Looking in the direction of his gaze, all I saw was the sight of Gaiuz sitting atop his platform that was roughly ten meters wide and an inch and half thick. Naturally, that black platform was the Elemental Segregation Platform,but that wasn’t the issue here. What was so amazing and bizarre was that it was actually floating in mid air, in clear defiance of gravity. In fact, there had to be at least a meter’s worth of distance between it and the ground…
“That platform can actually fly…why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“Did you even ask me about it?”
“…” When he said it like that, I really couldn’t help but agree that this really had nothing to do with him. “But I don’t remember Weiderly using that function even when he was cornered.”
“That’s because the speed of the platform is really slow and requires quite some time to activate. That’s why Weiderly never thought about doing that.”
“Oh I see…”
Seeing me flabbergasted, Anmi proudly said: “Didn’t I say so before, the Elemental Segregation Platform is one of the three greatest inventions in our clan. Since it is worthy of such a lofty title, it naturally had to do more than purge elements. Back when it was first invented, its inventor already thought about this issue of mobility. As long as the Shadowcats remained in Purgatory, they would forever be bound to the Elemental Segregation Platform, that’s why the inventor specially added in this feature so that they could move about freely!”