Kiss the Black Cat: Chapter 6
First published on Ainushi
Slight changes to the names here.
Leader ⇨ Captain
Imperial Guard Knight Corps ⇨Royal Knight Order (RKO)
Royal Palace Magic Corps ⇨Royal Palace Magic Order(RPMO)
Tech Corps ⇨ Tech Order (TO/TMO)
Edit: It’s fixed now
When I returned to the prince’s palace, it seemed as if I’d already become well-known amongst the peers around the prince, I was greeted with a 「Welcome back, Earl Curtis」innumerable times. I was picked up by the cat loving ladies-in-waiting, and carried to the prince’s room.
The prince, smiled and raised a shout of joy upon seeing me.
「Welcome home! Isn’t it great, you came back home properly!」
Internally thinking that’s because I’m a grown up man on the inside, I drew closer to the prince. Ever since being petted by the prince the night before, I’d gained a favourable impression from him. Considering that the age of seven was the prime of mischief, he was quite well-behaved, and despite my worries that even my tail would be caught and abused, the prince spiritedly caressed me.
Until the prince entered the bedroom, the guards remained stationary in the room with their numbers as is. During that time, on account that it was good that I could too loaf off my responsibilities, I relaxed and dozed off. The problem was during night, when the manpower reduced.
Because today was the day when the guard duties began in right earnest, the captains of both the Royal Knight Order and the Royal Palace Magic Order visited the prince’s side and explained the plan for guarding him. The prince placed me on his lap and petted me whilst listening to them with an uneasy face.
It was a matter of course, any one at that age being told that their life was being targeted would be fraught with worries. In the first place, he was a prince of a peaceful country.
Sensing the emotion of fear through the trembling hand that was petting me, I swayed my tail and lightly struck the prince’s stomach in an attempt to soothe him.
At first, the guards were a bit surprised at my presence, but without anything being said I was accepted. It was convenient for me, but the worry that Is it fine? once again floated in my mind. Especially the Royal Palace Magic Order. I thought that they really should have investigated a bit whether I was really an ordinary cat or not.
Should I develop such a magic tool once this job ends?, I wondered whilst on top of the prince’s lap.
「Regarding the Night Guard duties, since his highness Chennel is uncomfortable with people entering his bedchamber, only one person shall accompany you.」
When the the captain of the Knight Order said that, the prince and his attendant nodded. The attendant made a face full of regret and bowed his head at the thoughtfulness towards the prince.
「Basically, I shall be accompanying you. I’m the captain of a squad of the Royal Knight Order, Legato. Pleased to meet you.」
Legato who was behind, came in the front, impeccably greeted and showed a slight smile towards the prince.
「Legato is competent man, and I think he’s a match for a thousand by himself, so be at ease. There shall be a few knights and magicians on standby beside the bedchamber, and they will be ready to jump in in case anything occurs.」
At the words of the Knight Order Captain, the prince and co. nodded in relief, and showed a smile to Legato, who was selected to protect them. Legato, having a serious atmosphere, wasn’t the type that was amicable and easygoing, but he wasn’t as intimidating as he seemed.
More importantly, I uncomfortably felt Legato’s gaze on me, and looked up towards the figure near me. Looking from the perspective of my cat body, Legato who was tall in the first place, seemed to touch the skies. Making eye contact with me, a cat, he made a perplexed face.
Perhaps, he’s bad with cats, I wondered.
Because that gaze wasn’t an endearing one used to look at something cute, but one that seemed to be worried of something. I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that the captain of the Knight Order, despite being strong, was bad with small animals.
「Do you perhaps dislike Earl? Ah, by Earl I mean the little one here, it’s his name. His formal name is Earl Curtis.」
The prince sent a worried gaze towards Legato. It seemed he was anxious of what to do if the reply was “I dislike them, so please send this cat someplace else”.
Legato hurriedly waved his hands in dismissal at the prince.
「No, it isn’t that I dislike him. Rather, I wonder If he dislikes me, I have a tendency of being disliked by animals right from the past…」
When Legato smiled wryly, the members of the Knight Order who were there too smiled, irresponsible talk like「You certainly aren’t liked by animals」「It’s difficult even with a horse as company.」popped up.
I see, such a person exists too I thought in surprise. I had often played with animals for the sake of my transformation magic right from young, so I was quite liked by them. You can’t judge a book by its cover, thinking so, I looked at Legato with great interest.
「I see! But Earl is smart, so it is fine. He won’t hate the Knight-san who has come to protect me.」
Because the prince said so while smiling, I chimed in agreement with a pleasant 「Nyaー」. As for me being smart, I’m a human so that’s not a problem. Legato, saying 「Pardon me」, nervously extended his hand towards me. When I stayed still, that hand patted me once briefly.
And then, looking at my figure that didn’t particularly dislike him, he raised a voice in slight surprise 「Don’t tell me…」.
Just how much has he been hated by animals in his life, I burst out in laughter, but maybe because I was a cat all that was seen was my whiskers trembling.
And thus the meeting with the guards ended smoothly, and the prince, who was even more tired than usual, retired to his bedchamber early. He didn’t even get to sleep soundly the day before so he must surely be tired.
The body warmth of the person hugging me, being that of a drowsy young child, was considerably high. Dismissing the attendants and the guards, the prince crept onto the bed. I curled up close to the prince’s face. Legato sat on the chair near the door of the bedchamber, and set his sword such that it seemed it would fall off anytime.
As expected, a competent man such as him was good at erasing his presence, and Legato lowered his breathing to an extent where it seemed as if he wasn’t even there. It must be hard to keep this up the whole night, I sympathised.
Our situation of being unable to sleep was the same, but there was a difference between him who was sitting still without moving a muscle with a sword in hand and a cat lying about restlessly on a soft bed.
However, I was able to relax a lot more than the day before. The guard was Legato. Apologies to the guard from yesterday, but there was a difference in level of competency. Legato was certainly strong enough to become squad commander. We entered the royal palace around the same time, and it could be said that we were some sort of colleagues, and I thus could see Legato’s strength at display at times despite being in different positions.
Rather than having many unskilled Knights, the prince was safer under him alone. Because there was such a man acting as a guard, the burden on my shoulders too had lessened a little. If it was an ordinary assassin, I’m sure he could handle it, it’d be fine if I went about assisting him till the guards in the neighbouring room jump into the fray.
Unlike the joy in my heart, from Legato’s point of view, he was the the only guard in the bedchamber. And there was the prince and a cat. The sense of responsibility must have been heavy. He couldn’t doze off either.
Because he was the squad commander, it wasn’t as if he could sleep in the daytime either, I sympathised with him again thinking he always gets the short end of the stick, doesn’t he? That was also one of the reasons my sense of closeness gushed forth.
Even though he was running on the glorious highway of success, and he was an excellent man in addition to his good looks, maybe it was his modest nature or his nervous temperament, he was something of an unsung hero. There were many times when I felt like saying “He can tackle anything seriously, but wouldn’t it be better if he knew how to get along well in life?”.
Even if I said that, Legato would only get offended, so I won’t say it though.
The prince at first was unable to sleep soundly and his eyes opened many times and he petted me, but that stopped past midnight and he slept soundly till morning came.
Legato must’ve been quite good at erasing his presence. It was to the extent that even I, would suddenly realise that I’d forgotten Legato’s existence.
In the midst of dozing off, looking at the prince’s little sleeping face, I felt that doing the mission together with Legato was slightly fun, even while thinking that it had turned out somewhat strange.
But, that was that.
「First is sleep!」
When morning came, with the number of guards increasing, I’d part from the prince side and the first thing I’d say was always this.
I lay still on the bed for about 10 hours. Without anything to do. It was to the extent of looking at the prince’s sleeping face or being lost in my thoughts. Legato was outside the prince’s field of vision, and staying still in order to not wake up the prince, I couldn’t see legato’s figure. Legato didn’t seem to have any indication of moving at all, I respected him, thinking Don’t you need to even pee? I wondered if it was a result of training. For me there was a restroom in the bedchamber for cat use just in case, I can go if I want to. But Legato couldn’t afford to leave the room.
「Because I’m a cat, it isn’t as if I can read a book either…」
My colleague accompanied me in grumbling while doing other things.
On one hand I felt happy that Legato was there, but on the other I couldn’t act as I pleased under Legato’s watch. When the prince slept, I could behave in a manner deviating from that of a cat, but under Legato’s watch, I couldn’t do strange things.
It was to the extent of wanting to ask Legato 「How does Squad commander-dono kill time?」, but had no means to ask. Or maybe I should try asking casually during the next meeting.
With a 「Aren’t you bored?」
Because the squad commander-dono would get angrily ask 「Are you making fun of me?」 if I, who never talk normally suddenly asked him that.
「I don’t have anything to do now, let me get some sleep.」
I laid down on the divan that had become my usual spot lately. My mind felt foggy. Even up until recently I have stayed up the whole night engrossed in my work, but it’d be a different story if it continued.
On the other hand, it’d be troublesome to hand over the work of being a liaison to someone else, I somehow continued to work even during day time like usual.
Legato too, only had to guard at night, but because he worked even during daytime, I’d sometimes catch sight of his figure. But he didn’t seem tired in the least bit. Amazing. With that thought in my head, I admired him.
Surely, the one who was sharing the greatest pains is Legato, but it couldn’t be helped that the other side hadn’t realised my existence.
And thus my days were spent grumbling complaints to another tech order member who didn’t give much of a reaction, and getting sleep in whatever little free time I had.